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Friday, October 18, 2013

Guest Post from Boomer Lit Author Sharon Struth

There’s No Love Lost Here

Free love. A concept extolled by hippie and other non-conformists of the 60’s and 70’s…folks we now call baby boomers.

Boomers redefined traditional values back then and continue to be image changers now. Over fifties are
active, in good health and breaking the images associated with getting older, especially when it comes to their love lives. I remember visiting my grandparent’s house when I was a kid and wondered why they had those twin “Rob and Laura Petrie” beds but my parents didn’t. The message was pretty clear…none of “that stuff” going on in this bedroom. Now couples in this age group are seen on commercials smiling about their afternoon delight thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.

The general public seems to embrace the idea of fifty and beyond couples in their entertainment, even as it relates to romance. The movie industry has offered stories such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hope Springs, The Descendants and It’s Complicated. These films show us how the life-time experiences of baby boomers makes them perfect candidates for fiction with characters who are rich with complexities and issues. Beauties like Jane Fonda, Rachel Welch and Meryl Streep show us that being older doesn’t mean you’re not desirable or capable of love. Come on, who wasn’t rooting for Meryl Streep and Steve Martin at the end of It’s Complicated?

What about in books, though? Some mainstream publishers seem slow to embrace the idea that Romance + over fifty hero/heroine = retail success. Generally speaking, the bigger publishers seem to believe a romance with a vampire or shape-shifter is more believable (and profitable) than someone finding romance over the age of forty. Traditional contemporary romance heroines/heroes are in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, yet readers of romance cover a wide age range with over 40 percent in the 31-49 years age group.

Luckily, the world of publishing now has more options for authors. Many mid-sized and small publishers, along with self-published authors, are offering romantic novels with mature characters. The generation who brought awareness to the idea of “free love” does want to read this kind of literature. Many of those readers are divorced or have lost their spouses. They love stories about how second chances for romance can happen—even if you have an AARP card or are an empty nester.

More than once, I’ve received comments from readers about my recent release, The Hourglass (Etopia Press) that stated, “Your story gave me hope that I can find romance again, too.” As an author, those comments were a gift. Imagine giving someone hope?

I’ve decided to take the advice of the ominous voice in Field of Dreams...“If you build it, they will come.” My calling is to continue to write romantic stories for folks who might be a wee bit older than the usual romance genre benchmark. I believe if these stories are out there, then the readers will find them – both boomers and younger. They’ll find rich plots, compelling characters and the kind of love that comes to folks after a lifetime of experience, often wiser due to the passage of time.

Yes, Virginia, there is romance (and sex) after the age of fifty. And nowadays authors even write about it.

About the Author
Sharon Struth writes from her home in Bethel, Connecticut. Her writing credits include her debut novel, THE HOURGLASS (Etopia Press), award winning romantic women's fiction. She also has essays in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the anthology A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers, Sasee Magazine and

Prior to writing full-time, Sharon worked at the headquarters of Waldenbooks/Borders Books. She's a member of the Romance Writers of America and Treasurer of The Romance Writers of Southern Connecticut and Lower New York (CoLoNY). Sharon takes a look at the plights of being middle-aged in her blog, "Life in the Middle Ages." She is represented by Blue Ridge Literary Agency.


  1. Sharon, this is a wonderful post and of course I couldn't agree with you more. Hollywood has woken up to the opportunities of the silver-haired market while the publishing industry is still uncertain about it, who knows why. Maybe overly conservative? Afraid to strike out with something different from their well-tried YA vampires?

    Older women know more about both sex and love, that makes for more intriguing plots with more twists and turns...When will the publishers wake up?

    Soon I hope...

    1. Hi Claude, Yes I hope they wake up soon, too. In the meantime, we'll just keep on writing those stories and the readers will come. Thank for your thoughts.

    2. Absolutely! I write about older women too - they're much more interesting. Still out there looking for publication.

  2. Oh, yes, they sure are! I once embarrassed my young self while in my mid-fifties. A couple of friends (they're 20 years my senior) were discussing a couple who were quite elderly but vibrant. "I'll bet they still have sex!" I said. My friends stared at me, incredulous. "Well, why wouldn't they?" OMG, I'm still redfaced. But as to your point about over-50s, I didn't want to take years to find an enlightened agent/publisher who'd publish my over-50 novel, so I did it myself. Brave new world out there. Best wishes.

    1. Lol, great story Lynne! Glad you took the plunge and got your story out there! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I felt this was a thoughtful post and I share the feelings of other boomer authors about this matter and I'm going to write what I'm going to write, but I honestly fear this is a mountain too high to climb. Heroines and heroes of romances are in their 20s to early 30s at the oldest because the heroes and heroines of movies and television are (or at least look like they are) intheir 20s or 30s and the people who are chosen early to ascend the ranks of business and political leadership are - or at least - look to be in their 20s or 30s. That is the golden age. Ours is a youth culture. Always has been. We love lovers, people who haven't hooked up but when they do and form meaningful relationships, they entered into that dull grey purgatory called marraige and middle age and they are good only for raising the next generation and providing yuks to young people. And people in their 50s? My god, don't even go there. It's enough to upset someone with a delicate stomach.

    The fact is that as Boomers we flatter ourselves to believe we are the unique generation, that we're not bound by the same rules as every other generation. But we're not. We've for the most part had our kids, gotten hooked up, are raising kids. We are no longer romantic or sexual figures to anyone - except ourselves.

    You face the greater challenge that the people who make decisions on what books to print and what movies to make and which actors to pick for shows feel exactly the same way. They are by and large in their 20s and 30s and if they've hit their 40s and 50s they'll kill to appear to be in their 30s.

    This isn't grim older sour grapes. It's reality, in everything from the job market to writing to entertaining. Old is bad. Young is good.

    All that said, this isn't a declaration that the war is over and we should just lie down and die. There have been and will be break out successes and projects that make money will tempt whiz kids to - just this once - do something for the old folks becuase it will bring in cash.

    I am writing stories about sexually vibrant - and sometimes stupid - 50 and 60 somethings because I know sex does n't vanish no matter how much our children and grandchildren wish it would and that men and woman in their dotage are just as likely to screw up their lives as horny 20-somethings.

    Im going to write this stuff because I like to write it, but I have no great dreams that we will transform society. I hope I'm wrong, but one of the good things about living for a while is that you completely lose hope in the perfectability of mankind and realize how intractable cultural patterns really are.

    But, if i', wrong, Vive la revolution and let's wecome all the hot and sexy grannies and GILFS that will make our male lives more interesting!

    1. Hi Daniel,
      I understand your point. Young, hot images sell. I suppose that's what keeps some publishers from grabbing onto romance with older characters. But I suspect for women it may be different than with men. The women who read my book The Hourglass-- from ages 38 and beyond-- found the early fifties hero quite sexy and desirable. Yes, they wanted him. The truly related to the heroine, who in her late forties WAS, in many cases, just like them. People want to relate to characters. I just read a romance with a 26 year old heroine. While I envied her (and enjoyed the book) I couldn't relate to her. Not her size (which was perfect) or her lifestyle.

      I think you're right, though. We probably won't transform society (like those darn vampire books!) but I know there are readers who want this stuff. Haha, love GILF's :-)
      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post Sharon. And very, very true. Yes people over 50 still have sex. And some of it would knock would make a 20 year old blush! I think as people become older now, they are more informed, less conservative and more willing to go after what they want, including feeling good, which with the right partner, includes sex.

    1. Haha, yeah and if a 50 year old didn't know the blush-worthy stuff before, they do now after the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey :-)
      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Daniel may have a point, but books have two advantages. First, readers create the images in their minds, so they don't have to focus on wrinkles and sags. Second, we don't have to please everyone, only a certain segment of the market. The trick will be to for the readers to find the books. Too bad "Over Fifty Romance" isn't a listed category.

  6. That's so true about books. The image becomes what we want the reader to see. I have attended book groups who read my book, and they always ask "Who would play the hero and heroine?" I keep it vague because I don't want to make them see that person (and possible flaws). Yes, I wish Over Fifty Romance was listed as a category. Thanks for stopping by, Beth!

  7. Sharon, I have your book on my Nook, and I look forward to reading it. I wrote my first 'mature' novel a dozen years ago, have re-written and updated it about 4 times and still haven't found a home for it yet. I'm not giving up. In the meantime I've published 2 novels with 20-30 something characters to try and get my name out there. There's something for everybody.

  8. Hi Patty. Yes, it's really a balancing act between wanting to get published and writing what feels right to you. Congrats on your other books getting published. I'm glad you're not giving up on the stories with older than 30 year old characters. That must be a sign that there's something worth saving there. good luck and thanks for stopping by!