Does Age Matter?

Maria Colette posed a good question recently: does age matter? And why are all urban fantasy protagonists in their twenties?

Like Ms Colette, I can’t say my twenties were a favourite time of my life. Certainly if I had to pick a decade to live over again, I don’t think that one would top my list. But I can see why authors place their characters there: there’s work struggles, relationship struggles and finding yourself struggles. Plus, twentysomething is not too old for teen readers, and not too young for middle-aged readers, and who wouldn’t want to reach as wide an audience as possible. I’m also thinking twentysomethings have enough energy to meet all the daily requirements of being an urban fantasy character (action, romance, supernatural abilities).

But have we seen enough of the twentysomething character? I wouldn’t mind seeing more thirty- and forty-somethings. These age groups have more life experience to draw upon, so perhaps we’d see less of the ‘bumbling idiot’ plotlines. They also have more at stake– the career, the established life (car, house), and maybe even a family. But I do have one caveat: no ‘child in jeopardy’ stories, please!

What do you think of the twentysomething character? Too much? Are you ready for something different?


6 comments on “Does Age Matter?

  1. I personally think mid-twenties is perfect age for characters. They have a little worldly experience, are still struggling with who they are, where they are going, what they want from life. And most are not seriously attached yet, which allows for the “love interest.”

    Older characters/people are not as inpulsive, not as quick to act and react. Older people have thing/people/jobs/relationships to consider and it can slow down the story. IMO And I’m too old to still identify with the coming of age, I’m just a 17 year old for Christ sake story.

  2. I’d love to see more 30-somethings in UF. Julie Kenner’s series has a demon-snuffing soccer mom heroine, which is awesome. It would be cool to see even more heroines of every age. So many UF characters have the ability to be older and still kick ass, so it’s surprising to me that we don’t see more of these characters.

  3. I never thought much about protags age. I wouldn’t mind reading about different age groups. I can associate with *ahem* older characters.

    I agree with Tom that the Twenty-something character is just old enough to no better but young enough to try it anyway. That makes for tension and exciting reads.

  4. I’d like to see more characters who are over thirty. One of my favorite characters in paranormal fiction is Elena Michaels from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, and I think she’s thirty two in the first book (Jaime Vegas, who’s in her forties, is also cool!). On the other hand, I’m also really fond of Rachel Morgan in Kim Harrison’s books, but she behaves in a way that wouldn’t be appropriate for a thirty something. Thus I think that a character’s age should fit how they act.

  5. I WOULD like to see older characters, perhaps as secondary characters. But the 20’s/early 30’s heroines just make sense. Plus it’s an extremely flexible age range– think of who you are/were at 21 compared to who you are/were at 30.

    In their early 20’s, they’re old enough to be on their own, but not so old that we wouldn’t expect them to NOT do stupid things, particularly since they are just coming out of the teen years and still have some of that sense of immortality. This age also gives the author a lot of potential room for the heroine to grow/mature through the course of a book or series.

    By the late 20’s/early 30’s, though, we’re going to expect much more depth to a heroine and can accept a level of jadedness that would probably seem not quite believable in a younger heroine who is still learning who she is. And while we can accept mistakes from an older heroine, they could not be the TSTL type mistakes that we might be more forgiving of in the younger heroine.

    In the opinion of this 51-year-old, anything older than early 30’s in a traditional UF/DF story with a kick-butt heroine, and there will be a good chance it’s going to stretch credulity. I mean, an older heroine works brilliantly for crime procedurals or mysteries, but I’m not sure a book/series could continue to be labeled UF/DF without the “kick-butt” designation.

    So, maybe this goes back to “What IS the definition of UF/DF?” and would an older heroine REALISTICALLY work within that definition?

  6. Not to toot my own horn, but Megan Chase is thirty-one and Greyson Dante is thirty-seven (and they both have birthdays coming up, which may be lame of me but hey, I know when their birthdays are so why not tell people?). 🙂

Comments are closed.