Pythagoras just had a birthday.
Since I was en route home from a writers’ conference and not there to wake him with cake and a pony, he didn’t realize it was the anniversary of his birth until he got to work.
I suppose it’s like this after a certain age. Unless it’s a milestone birthday like 21 or 50, you stop caring about waking to find a banana-seat Schwinn at the foot of your bed.
For me, the most important aspect of my husband’s birthday is the chance to remind him he’s five years older than me.
There’s a window between August and October when this isn’t the case, and for two months he can claim a four-year gap. I like having him restored to his rightful place as five years my elder. I am 36 and he is 41 and that is as it should be.
We met when I was barely 19, and one of our first conversations kicked off with Pythagoras informing me it was his birthday. When he told me his age, I was dumbfounded. 24? That seemed ancient. I wondered if we’d be eligible for the senior discount if I accepted his dinner invitation.
In all seriousness, the age difference has never mattered much, except to provide entertainment when pondering what the age gap would have meant when we were younger.
When he was 16, I was 11. Though we didn’t know each other, I suspect a relationship would not have been satisfying for either party.
When he was 20, I was 15. I’m sure that arrangement is acceptable in some cultures and jail cells, but there’s an ick-factor I’d prefer not to contemplate.
When it comes to writing, I don’t give a lot of thought to the ages of the characters. The hero in MAKING WAVES is 42, while the heroine is 37 – both a bit older than in many romance novels. It was a deliberate choice based on the setup for that story, but I tend to do that in most of my romances. I’d much rather write a 35-year-old heroine than a 25-year-old one, and it’s what I prefer to read as well.
I deviated from this in a mystery we shopped several months ago with a cast of 20-somethings, and an editor flagged it immediately. She felt my books were more likely to appeal to readers in their 30s and 40s and suggested I pad everyone’s résumés to add a few years. It was an easy fix, but certainly gave me something to ponder.
As a reader, do you prefer stories about characters in your age range? What do you tend to do as a writer? Where’s the oogie-threshold when you’re considering a large age gap between a hero and a heroine, and does it matter which one is older?
Please share, I’m curious.
Oh, and for the record, I think I’ll just keep aging my characters as my career progresses. I’m looking forward to the day I get to write a 78-year-old heroine being thoroughly ravaged by her 72-year-old lover.