First, I want to make it clear that anything I write in this post is my opinion and my opinion alone. I am an author, but first and foremost, I am a reader. So, could someone please explain to me why 95% of the female protagonists in paranormal fiction seem to stop aging at 35? Now before you jump on me, I am aware of older female protagonists in mysteries, and occasionally a romance or thriller, there’s even a genre called matron lit. I’m pushing fifty, but I love urban fantasy and paranormal fiction, I want a female protagonist who is someone I can relate to, someone closer to my own age and build.
After years of reading books I love, I realized there was an under representation of strong, yet flawed, 40-something, female protagonists. Just because a woman is over 40, or may not be a size two it doesn’t mean she has nothing to offer to the paranormal fiction arena. When did it become okay for the male of the species to get better with age, but women are supposed to just act like life has ended once they’ve married and had kids? What about the women who whether by choice, or not, have no children? What is wrong with the idea that a woman can continue to be a well-rounded role model for all women long after the mainstream media decides she needs to be put out to pasture?
This is where I came up with my goal of creating a character that was what I, as an over 40, divorced, childless, female wanted to see. A woman who could kick ass and not be perfect. Yes, she’s prone to melodrama, foul-language, and an extreme addiction to chocolate, but she’s real. She’s modeled after several women in my own life all of whom are amazing and have a lot to offer the world.
One of the things that I focus on in my book is the forgotten woman. The woman who was tossed out like trash because her partner decided he wanted a new, younger, fertile model. Yes, my MC wallowed in self-pity, binged on chocolate, and endless marathons of Supernatural, but when it counted she was an active, strong, kick ass woman. A woman who likes to break the fourth wall in her narrative, loves cheesy, nerdy jokes, and has no problem ogling a hot guy (pun intended). She’ll fight for the collection of strays she brought into her life and home. The family she chooses to create to make up for the lack of a natural family.
In fact, two of my major characters are 40-something women who are not restricted to quietly hiding in the shadows or hovering over their children’s lives. Neither of them are antagonists, they are strong women who have lived life, yet still have a lot to offer. Yes, one of them is a witch and the other is her not-quite human best friend, but they are the characters I want to see and those I believe a lot of women would like to see as well. The story isn’t about my protagonist, or her best friend, finding a man at this stage of their lives, although that may happen at some point. This is about recognizing your worth as a citizen of the world, about realizing the mistakes of our past create the person we are today. Accepting our flaws and trying to move beyond them. Plus, if you can throw a little humor, eye candy marathons, and some good chocolate into the mix isn’t that what we all want? Yes, some women want the romance to end all romances in their lives, there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are women who are happier being single, living out their dreams, instead of wishing for things to be different. Women who believe size is just a number, that you can be sexy and fat (there’s that dreaded three letter word) at the same time. Women who know that being a true bad ass, strong woman is knowing when to accept help and when to go it alone. Do you agree? I would love to get others’ opinions on this subject.
V. L. Cooke