Having been nicknamed The Dragon Lady by younger students when I was teaching and being told I’m ‘a very demanding pet to look after’ by my husband, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to welcome an author who calls herself a subversive old bat to Linda’s Book Bag today! It’s lovely Anne Stormont who has kindly agreed to write a guest post for the blog all about writing for older readers in celebration of her latest book Settlement.
Settlement is available for purchase as a paperback and as an ebook here.
Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest? Can love truly heal old wounds?
Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.
Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.
She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?
When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.
But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.
Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.
Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence?
Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?
Will they get the chance to put things right between them?
If you like a complex, contemporary, grown-up romance with lots of raw emotion, dramatic and exotic settings, all mixed in with some international politics and laced with elements of a crime thriller, then this is the book for you.
Fiction For Older Readers
I’m a member of an authors and readers group on Facebook called Books For Older Readers which was started by writer Claire Baldry. It’s a great group for sharing books that feature older main characters or that in some other way may hold a particular appeal for readers who consider themselves to be no longer young.
The fact that a group like this has proved so popular surely says something about the relationship between age and the world of adult fiction. And it’s something I reckoned might make an interesting post. Especially as I’m an older reader and writer myself.
My books – including Settlement, my new one (more about that later) – are all contemporary romantic fiction and the main characters are all in their forties or fifties. My books are second-chance romances where the characters are also dealing with difficult issues such as divorce, bereavement, illness as well as working and/or caring for their families.
I didn’t begin writing until I was in my late forties so it’s perhaps it’s not surprising my first lead characters were in that age group too. I wanted to write the sort of book that I’d also want to read and have characters I could really relate to.
And, it seemed to me as a reader, there were no older female leads in the contemporary romance genre. Indeed when I first sought publication, agents and publishers told me nobody wanted to read about older women falling love and (whisper it) having sexual relationships.
However, nowadays – although there is still room for improvement – things have moved on.
Currently there are several successful authors such as Hilary Boyd, Maggie Christensen, Christine Webber, Linda MacDonald and the aforementioned Claire Baldry who all write first-class romantic fiction with older protagonists.
Crime fiction writers, too, don’t always go for youth over experience. Good examples include Ann Cleeves’s leading fifty-something police officer, the wily and inimitable Vera, and in her Shetland series the lead is taken by been-around-the-block, CID officer Jimmy Perez. Then there’s Ian Rankin’s Rebus who is well beyond retirement age. And best of all, for me, there’s JJ Marsh’s fabulous international crime series featuring the wonderfully quirky detective Beatrice Stubbs.
Literary fiction also seems comfortable with stories centred around older protagonists. Ian McEwen, Bernard MacLaverty and Kate Atkinson are just three examples of authors who have favoured leading characters who could be considered past their prime. Then there were the highly successful novels The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and a few others in a similar vein with very elderly title characters.
However, I should add that while as a reader I’m delighted that there are books like those mentioned above, I’m still quite happy to read books with younger protagonists too. This year alone I’ve read several superb romantic novels where the lead characters have been in their twenties and thirties. But it’s good to have the choice and not to feel that people of my age – and indeed twenty years younger than me – are invisible or not interesting enough to feature as credible leads in fiction.
And I should also add that my readership includes people in their twenties right through to some who are in their eighties.
Age is just a number after all and is only one factor in our personalities and interests. It shouldn’t be a barrier to inclusion or enjoyment when it comes to our reading.
Life after thirty-five can be as challenging, surprising and rewarding as it was before – if not more so. So the lives of characters in this older age group provide fertile ground for all sorts of fiction.
And so to my new book – complete with its older – but not necessarily wiser characters.
(Amen to that Anne! Fast approaching 60 I’m not on the scrap heap yet and I really do enjoy books that feature so-called older women as well as our 30 something protagonists. Thank you so much for a super guest post.)
About Anne Stormont
Anne Stormont writes contemporary, women’s fiction that is probably best described as literary romance. Her writing is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Her stories are for readers who enjoy a good romantic story, but who also like romance that is laced with realism and real world issues – and where the main characters may be older but not necessarily wiser.
Anne was born and grew up in Scotland where she still lives. She has travelled extensively having visited every continent except Antarctica – where she really must go considering her fondness for penguins. She has friends and family all over the world including in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and the Middle East.
Anne was a primary school teacher for over thirty years before taking early retirement in order to concentrate on her writing.
She describes herself as a subversive old bat – but she also tries to maintain a kind heart. She hopes this comes through in her writing.
Anne loves to hear from and keep in touch with her readers.
You can find out more about Anne on her author website Anne Stormont. She has an excellent Blog. You’ll also find Anne on her Facebook Author pages: Anne Stormont and can follow Anne on Twitter @writeanne.