Heroine Age: why so many 20s?

A reader recently asked me why every heroine of late is in their twenties. A valid question when I looked at the top books in romance right now. Can women in their forties not fall in love? Or is that age too wise for the conventional mistakes that allow a love plot to twist and turn through dramatic hills and valleys? The question was posed to me in an almost demanding way – “Why have you, oh dark Sultan of Romance, insisted on painting your delicious heroine in the light of youth?” So I sat back and thought.

My upcoming novel, On Me, In Me, Dead Beneath Me, is a story of a young woman’s struggle to control her psychotic tendencies, and having to journey out of her comfort zone in an attempt to rescue a young girl. The heroine is twenty-one, the same age as the heroine in my debut novel, Blindfolded Innocence. Coincidence? Why had I chosen, without any second thought, such young leads?

While story-line circumstances mildly dictated the heroine’s age, the real reason behind my age choice centered on myself. While I passed twenty-one almost a decade ago, I can put myself in the mind of a young woman with ease. My husband would call it immaturity, but I’d like to think of my heroines as worldly, wise-beyond-their-years, confident women. I can empathize with a twenty-something; portray them in an accurate and appealing fashion. It would be difficult for me to write from the perspective of a thirty, forty, or fifty year old woman – to understand their motivations, thought processes, and justifications. I wouldn’t do them justice and would probably irritate readers in my awkward attempt. The golden rule – to write what you know – holds true in my case, and as I gain life experiences and grow older, I will no doubt write older female leads.

I don’t know how much my answer satisfied that one, indignant reader, but I am glad she posed the question. It caused me to look at my characters a little closer, and examine my motivations, a side effect that will no doubt, improve the final result. To all readers out there – challenge us, question us, critique and review your heart out. We welcome and appreciate the insight and the improvements they bring!