Friday, September 25, 2009

Romantic Times Recycled

The following is recycled from a post I did last year for the Romantic Times "Fresh Fiction" blog:

No Manolos, No Makeup, and the Romantic Interest is Bald

“She flowed into his arms and they stood silently for a moment: two middle-aged people, much encumbered by heavy winter outerwear and vintage emotional baggage, but, for the moment, in perfect harmony.”

So, I get the invitation to blog on Fresh Fiction and I accept joyfully, especially since the kind folks here at Romantic Times have named my recent release In a Dark Season “Pick of the Day” (5/25/08). I start checking out some past blogs and then I see the covers of featured books. Hmmm. Flowing hair, heaving bosoms, and more six-packs than a convenience store. Oh dear! This isn’t what I write – do they really want me?

Mind you, I have nothing against tempestuous heroines and hunky heroes – I’ve drooled my way through a Judith Krantz title or two before this. But when I began to write in 2000 – at the age of fifty seven – I’d already spent about ten years, looking around for role models -- older women who were aging in the way I hoped to. It seemed as if the media was crawling with gorgeous twenty-somethings and the occasional cute, feisty old lady and in real life there was a great middle ground of women trying desperately to give the illusion of being younger than they really were. I was looking for women who were unapologetic about aging -- un-lifted, un-dyed, and un-Botoxed. I was looking for women who didn’t feel defined by their age – women to whom age was irrelevant.

My Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries have as protagonist a woman ‘of a certain age’ -- not beautiful or even beautifully dressed -- but a woman in her fifties whose long braid of dark hair is shot with silver threads, a woman whose knees aren’t what they once were, and who wouldn’t know a Jimmy Choo if it stomped on her instep. (Wouldn’t feel it either, as she’s usually wearing hiking boots.)

Elizabeth doesn’t dwell on her age or her hot flashes or her weight or her graying hair – she just gets on with solving the mystery – traveling up and down the dark hollows and coves of her mountain county (Signs in the Blood), weaving her way through the quirky art scene of nearby Asheville (Art’s Blood), exploring the world of the Cherokee (Old Wounds), or deciding what to do about the man who wants to marry her (In a Dark Season). And yes, he’s balding.

Really, Elizabeth’s age is peripheral to the story – this is NOT “Geezer Lit.” But she is aging gracefully -- and my greatest pleasure is hearing from the many women who feel like she’s a friend they look forward to visiting every year.

My very favorite email was from a woman who wrote: “Elizabeth makes me want to stop dyeing my hair and be who I really am.”

Amen, sister!

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Poetry24 said...


It would seem that it's not only the youngsters who feel the pressure to be this or that instead of being themselves.

A welcome post that eloquently sums up the importance of feeling comfortable with who you are as a person.

Eliane Zimmermann said...

now I am connected to a wonderful fast line at the german-austrian-swiss border. you were so incredibly right, the place I showed in the photograph is just a few miles away from the tiny town were Heidi 'lived', there is a touristic attraction named Heidi-Park. well done! cheers from the lovely Bodensee, i hope I can post some nice pics from here, today it is still very dizzy. eliane

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Age gracefully - now that's my goal. I'm thinking only men can become geezers. Surely not Elizabeth or any of us.

As I write this (probably because I think about food so much), I think Julia Child aged gracefully. She never apologized for her looks or her mary jane shoes. And she ate (in moderation) everything she wanted.

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Martin. I think women feel this pressure more than men but men are certainly not immune. It seems as if our culture (American -- I can't speak for the UK) disdains age -- maybe because the young are the greatest consumers?

Eliane -- I saw on your blog that my guess was right and was amazed! But something about the town in the valley and the mountains all around brought Heidi to mind at once. Such a lovely book! Now I'll have to read it again.

Sam -- you're so right about Julia -- if ever anyone seemed to be comfortable in her skin, it was she!

Unknown said...

Vicki - When I turned 50 this year, I realized I had no idea what color my hair actually was - so I stopped having it colored - and I have to say I really like my gray hair and not having to be a slave to the colorist every 6 weeks. Talk about liberating! Age is more about being comfortable in your own skin and by the time you reach 50 you just don't care what other people think anymore. Beside 50 is the new 40 isn't it LOL!

Vicki Lane said...

So true, Liz! At fifty I didn't care what other people thought of my appearance; at sixty, I flat did not give a damn -- I'm kinda waiting breathlessly to see what seventy brings.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I LOVE this post.

I stopped coloring my hair after we moved to the NC mountains. Truthfully, I'm not sure I would have ever stopped if we had stayed in Atlanta. I'm quite pleased with my silver hair now, actually. And it came into my life about the same time boots and jeans and long flowy skirts replaced high heels and suits. And my little pick-up truck replaced my Mustang.

Yep, your Elizabeth - along with your very own self - are wonderful role models.

Miss_Yves said...

I think I recognize Joan Baez !She's beautiful whith short and grey hair!
And I suppose that your novels' main character has got many features from yourself!

The last picture is full of humour.
However, I'm not ready at all to stop coloring my hair !

I'd like to translate my posts for you, and for American or English readers... but it's really too long and too difficult for me .
I should be ashamed to make a lot of mistakes ...Thank you to try to read my posts , and to be interested by my photos .

Vicki Lane said...

Kaye - when I lived in Tampa, people dressed up just to go to the grocery store. What a relief to come to a place where the dress code, such as it is, is very relaxed!

in my youth I dyed my hair for fun -- dark, strawberry blond and various stops in between. Then I got to where I preferred my own medium brown -- and as I grayed it just didn't bother me.

Miss Yves -- I enjoy trying to puzzle out your posts and the comments! Don't worry about translating -- maybe I'll learn some French!

Yes, that is indeed Joan Baez -- what a beauty!

My character Elizabeth dresses like I do but she's ten years younger, many pounds lighter, and generally better looking.

I didn't mean to suggest that there is anything wrong with dyeing one's hair -- if one likes doing so. It's the folks who feel they HAVE to that I feel sorry for.

And I just don't like going to beauty salons -- I was dragged to them in my youth by my mother who was only trying to make me pretty, as she saw it. But it left a permanent (oops, a pun) scar.

Karen Mc said...

I prefer calling it "aging truthfully", no hair dye, no facelifts, etc. Most of the lady elders in my family share the same thoughts so I have had great role models..................hey, I have never even been to Biltmore House, what does that tell you! My grandchildren think I am so deprived............

Vicki Lane said...

Well, I have to say Biltmore ouse is worth a look if you can hit it in an off season. The greenhouses alone and the servants quarters too are amazing.

You're lucky to have had role models like that!