We need something to bridge the gap. An entire genre that’s underrepresented in the literary world is books for women aged 40+ — Yes, us – middle-aged women looking for more mature and unadulterated fun (please, no older women behaving badly or silly, I beg you). We definitely want strong female protagonists, but we also want to read about more than just what it’s like to live in the big city with a terrible boss and wandering lover. Instead, we want to read about issues that reflect our reality. Not the happily ever after. So, meaningless jobs, failing marriages, MIA kids and aging parents. Did I mention aging bodies? And now, on top of all these worries and concerns, the growing uneasiness going on in the world.
So, for those women over 40 and who love to write, keep on writing if your main female character is over 40! But do keep it relatable. Give us anything except first jobs, first romances, and anything else we hens have already dealt with and have (gladly) moved beyond.
And while many of us don’t like being referred to as ‘hens’, or whatever they call us, we’re definitely the ultimate untapped market. We’re active, healthy, literate, and we’ve got money to spend. On top of this, roughly 3.5 million baby boomers are retiring each year—with Gen X not far behind. So that means we have all the time in the world to read. The problem is, there just isn’t enough available for those of us who want something more relevant, but not too heavy books. What chick lit authors and publishers must recognize is that their audience is aging. We’re seeking characters like ourselves—older, wiser, flawed of course, but still fun.
If you’ve been to your local bookshop or online store lately, you’ve surely seen the awesome marketing machine of chick lit with the colourful cute covers of dreamy landscapes, snowflakes and sprinkles on cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with these books or the amount of exposure they’ve received. They often feature strong female protagonists, although many of them are single millennials swiping left in their search for love, struggling for independence, or on a noble quest for political correctness.
As ‘a woman of a certain age’, I am delighted to share this guest post from Carolyn Clarke today. Carolyn is the founder and curator of https://henlitcentral.com/, a blog focused on ‘life and lit’ for women over 40. Her debut novel, And Then There’s Margaret, is published today and I’m going to be reading it very soon so watch out for a review early next month.
Forget Chick Lit, We Need Something Older
Carolyn Clarke believes that books for women over 40, that address the real issues in their owns lives, are vital….
But what if you’re a woman who’s dealt with all her childhood traumas and who’s never heard of Tinder? What if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted read, but just aren’t interested in the frivolous romps, typical angst and adventures of a 20, or even 30-something? It’s getting a little boring for us hens.
The good news is we seem to be heading in that direction. Hollywood, at least, seems to be getting it. There’s an increasing number of movies and series featuring mature stars and related topics. Just think about shows like Grace and Frankie, played by heavy hitter actors Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin and movies like Book Club or It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. And look at Gloria Bell, a perfect fit for Julianne Moore. Let’s face it — these days, older is in. And it’s refreshing to see the mix of funny and messy, and the messy feeling all too real and relatable. Publishers just need to get on the bandwagon too, but with good books.

And Then There’s Margaret by Carolyn Clarke (Black Rose Writing) is available now
from Amazon and all good book retailers.

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