By Shannyn Schroeder
Just a few years ago, I don’t think the term “seasoned romance” existed. New adult was a new category that focused on young people in their early twenties, in college or just starting their careers, with the focus being on figuring out how to be an adult. While the concept resonated with many younger readers, those of us who are middle aged sometimes had a harder time connecting with the characters. We were past the point of rash decisions and staying out all night. We had already built our careers, been married, maybe divorced, re-entering the dating world. Where were our love stories?
Over the last couple of years, various terms for these romances have been used. I think seasoned romance seems to be sticking. While there’s not a clear consensus for what qualifies, most agree that these are romances with characters over the age of 30 or 35. They have lived life and come with baggage of having life experience.
Readers have always enjoyed seeing themselves reflected in what they read. But when a woman who is forty looked to romance, she rarely saw herself. It was as if people over forty weren’t entitled to love and romance. I’ve been married for a long time, so I don’t know the dating scene as it exists today. And I think dating for someone who is 20 is different than dating in your 40s. I look to my single friends to figure out what it’s like. Life doesn’t end after divorce or because you chose to spend years focusing on career. These people still live full lives.
As a writer, I’ve always tried to write characters who feel like real people, someone you might actually know. When I thought of the Daring Divorcees series, it was developed with the idea of showing a group of friends who are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives.
My characters met in divorce support group years ago, formed friendships, and still meet for coffee regularly even though they’re no longer part of the support group. They push each other to move forward to go after what they want. They challenge behaviors and offer support when needed.
Part of my favorite thing about writing older characters is exploring the baggage they carry. Their backstories don’t have to be tragic and angst-filled, but even if it is, they’ve worked to deal with that. They try to minimize the impact of their histories and hangups. As I said, all of the characters in my series are divorced, so they have exes, some of whom are still in the picture. In the case of My Best Friend’s Ex, Trevor’s ex-wife suddenly dies. Overnight, he becomes a full-time dad to his two teenagers. On top of being a recovering alcoholic, he has to learn to be a parent 24/7 and figure out how to help his kids through their grief.
These are realistic problems for people to face. Sometimes life can feel overwhelming and falling in love only complicates that. I loved writing Trevor and Callie falling in love when they both struggled with the idea of being together. Callie feels like she’s betraying her best friend and Trevor worries about making a move that will hurt his kids.
I think it’s important for readers to see situations like this that reflect real life experiences. And even in the midst of dealing with this upheaval, Trevor and Callie still find love.
I hope that seasoned romance not only continues to thrive, but that it becomes a normal aspect of stories. Reading about people getting older shouldn’t be an anomaly. People are living longer healthier lives and love needs to be part of each phase of our lives.
Giveaway – For a chance to win a digital copy of One Night with a Millionaire, the first book in the Daring Divorcees series, tell me (or post a pic or gif) of your favorite over 40 actor/actress.