Blog and Book Give Away: FORTY-SOMETHING FEISTY FEMALES by Linda Gillard

LG&quiltWhen ill health forced me to give up teaching some years ago at the age of forty-seven, I used my convalescence to catch up on reading. But bookshops were awash with chick-lit and I struggled to find fiction that reflected my own life. Few novels featured women of my age and romantic heroines over forty simply didn’t exist. Mature women appeared only as somebody’s mother or somebody’s wife and they never had sex (unless it was for comic effect.)

A thinking-woman’s romance
I gave up looking for fictional heroines I could relate to and decided to write a book myself, the sort of thing I wanted to read but couldn’t find: a thinking-woman’s romance that dealt with real issues, had believable characters and of course a gorgeous, complex hero! I put a sensitive, creative woman in the spotlight, ignored her age and just looked at her heart and mind.

As a matter of principle I made my heroine forty-seven – my own age. This was suicide in terms of finding a publisher, but I didn’t care, I was just writing to amuse myself. I had a whale of a time writing an off-beat love story about a sexy, middle-aged textile artist and a fragile younger man, a teacher and poet. I set their love story on a bleak but beautiful Hebridean island that I knew well from family holidays.

Elgol, Isle of Skye

“Romance for Wrinklies”?
Encouraged by my writing group, I found an agent, then a publisher for what became my first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY. It was published by Transita, a UK imprint producing books aimed at mature women. The middle-aged heroines were a hit with readers of all ages, but the books were dismissed by the media as “Romance for Wrinklies”, “HRT-Lit”, even “Hag-Lit”! (The ageism and misogyny of British culture beggars belief but hey, they used to burn us as witches, so things are definitely looking up.)

Obsession with Youth
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking female readers have been fobbed off for far too long with books about women under thirty. What is this obsession with youth? Most books are bought and read by women over forty. Why do publishers think female readers want stories about much younger women?

When EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY was published a young journalist asked me why I hadn’t made my middle-aged romantic heroine twenty-five (which would have made it easier for me to find a publisher.) I explained that I hadn’t been very interested in a 25 year-old’s take on life because I was nearly fifty. Young people don’t seem to realise that 25 year-olds are only fascinating to other 25 year-olds.

EMO GEO cover

Telling tales
Mature women have lived. Their lives have been full and varied, sometimes exciting, often tragic. Women who’ve been around the block a few times have collected some interesting souvenirs and have wonderful tales to tell. I write fiction that reflects that.

One of the things that has struck me raising a daughter is how, despite a good education, she has little sense of women in the 20th century – what we fought for, what we achieved, what great changes a woman of fifty-plus has seen. In my second novel A LIFETIME BURNING (Transita), I took five women from three generations of the same family and used their interwoven stories as a way of looking at what it has meant to be a woman in the latter half of the 20th century – what choices, opportunities and limitations women faced. It seemed to me that what you could make of your life depended largely on when you were born.

LG & daughter

Now aged fifty-seven, I feel very conscious of that. It’s a good time to be in my 50s. In previous generations, I would have been regarded as old. In fact, I would have felt old!

Standing at a bus stop one day, I was chatting to a minister’s wife. She said to me wearily, “I’m over fifty. I need to slow down.” I smiled sympathetically, but what actually went through my mind was, “I’m over fifty. I need to speed up.”

Time waits for no (wo)man. I still have a lot of living to do. So do my heroines.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Star Gazing coverLinda Gillard lives in Scotland and has been an actress, journalist and teacher. She’s the author of STAR GAZING (Piatkus), short-listed for Romantic Novel of the Year in 2009. Linda’s début novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY (Transita) combined her love of quilts with her love of Scottish islands and was short-listed for the Waverton Good Read Award in 2006. Visit her website at www.lindagillard.co.uk

Win your own copy of STAR GAZING by leaving a comment or question for Linda.  A winner will be chosen randomly on January 12. The odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.  Void where prohibited.

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posted Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 | filed under Blog, Give Away

14 Responses to “Blog and Book Give Away: FORTY-SOMETHING FEISTY FEMALES by Linda Gillard”


  1. rhapsodyinbooks said:

    I love the idea of romances for somewhat older women. I have read these books and they are fantastic! And very, very romantic! :–)


  2. JOYE said:

    Enjoyed reading the comments. I am always looking for new authors to read. The book sounds so good that I have added it to my TBR list.


  3. GSM said:

    Good for you…and for me, since I am one of those older, feisty females!


  4. Julie said:

    It would be great if more publishers realized that older women would love the chance to read about heroines their own age as opposed to the typical 20-something heroine.


  5. mindy said:

    i like that this is geared to a more mature crowd thanks minsthins at optonline dot net


  6. Kathy D said:

    I agree with the other comments not everyone trying to find love is 20 something Great book


  7. Sharon A said:

    Being 56 myself I agree that I want to read something that appeals to me. Thank you for the opportunity.


  8. scottsgal said:

    Right in my age group – I’d love to read this


  9. Marie said:

    Hi Linda
    I havent had chance to get my hands on any of your books yet but as a 30something i would be intrigued to read to see how it appeals to a slightly – i mean only slightly younger person! Have you any plans to write another novel? Or have you already began writing??


  10. Linda Gillard said:

    Hi Marie

    I’ve published 3 novels so far and all of them have heroines of 40+. STAR GAZING is available in the US but your best bet for getting hold of the others is The Book Depository -www.bookdepository.co.uk They ship free anywhere in the world. You can also get books from me of course!


  11. Alicia said:

    Linda,
    I hope 2010 is a wonderful & prosperous year for you.

    Thanks for the giveaway >^..^<


  12. Linda Gillard said:

    Thanks, Alicia! :-)


  13. Donna said:

    Congratulations Sharon A, you have won your own copy of STAR GAZING. Please send your snail mail address to me and I will pass it on to Linda.


  14. Christine Coleman said:

    Hi Linda – As you know, I completely agree with your sentiment “I’m over fifty. I need to speed up.”

    I have lots of friends in the 50+ and 60+ range whose own lives are choc full of wonderful subject matter for more novels, but I never exploit their exploits! Luckily I have a vivid imagination and have plenty of my own ideas –

    When will the publishing world wake up to this??!!