In most books, particularly those in the romance genre, all the characters are young and beautiful. We all want to be young and beautiful, I know I do! And, I like to read about them, to a point. Alas, not all of us can be beautiful even when young.
When writing my Baer series which is set in a small town in the boonies of Wyoming, I find that older characters give the town life. I love exploring those that came before, and trying to unravel what they were like as young, impetuous people.
In each of my books, I have 'older' characters. The McIvey's own a local cafe and are the strong, steady, dependable couple everyone seems to rely on in times of trouble. While they aren't perfect, and they have a few squabbles here and there, George McIvey is known to plant one on his wife, and give a little love pat to her bum on occasion. They also dance, drink, and are very opinionated. Their opinions however, are laced with the wisdom that comes with age.
Using older characters gives me a chance to use some amazing quotes from older folks that are in my life and have passed through it. In my latest book, Baer Facts, Eleanor Fontaine makes quite the impact. She is sassy, pretty, more than over-the-top opinionated, she's got a crush on a U.S. Marshal and she's sixty-five. As the story evolves you discover she has quite the past. It is this past that makes her such an asset to the young and newly appointed Sheriff Matt Baer.
I think many authors miss out on an opportunity to deepen their story when everyone is young, beautiful and perfect. Even in the movies, it's is difficult to find an older character, particularly female. Even when you have a male lead that is seventy, his leading lady is usually never older than thirty-five. Seriously? What the hell to do they talk about? Give the man a sassy woman of his own age - there's some dialog!!
Person of Interest (yes, I am a fan) is one of the few shows that gives the lead, Mr. Reese (James Caviezel) a lady friend, Zoe (Paige Turco) that has a history, is her own independent woman, and is in the same age bracket - refreshing, and the dialog and sparks - humm.
Here's a little intro to Eleanor:
If there was such a thing as a curse, its name was Eleanor Fontaine and it was sitting in the sheriff's office the next morning smoking a cigarette.
"Eleanor, you know you can't smoke in here." Matt warned, hanging up his jacket.
"I'm not smoking, the cigarette is. See," she pointed to the lit end, "all the smoke is coming from there."
Matt rubbed the spot between his eyes, pushing his cowboy hat back on his head. "This is a non-smoking public office, it's against the law."
She sorted through a stack of papers, tossing a dozen envelopes into the trash can without opening them. "This is a tiny-ass office in the middle of nowhere. In the thirty years I've worked here, I've never seen the public come in here unless they were under arrest." She looked over her glasses at him. "Frankly, those sorts deserve second-hand smoke."
"You should quit, it's bad for you anyway." He knew there was no winning this argument and he needed help in the office, any help. Matt bent down and began pulling the envelopes out of the trashcan.
Eleanor took in a deep draw. "I smoked in the Army, quit when my kids came and promised myself if I lived to be sixty-five, I'd start again, so I just started." She blew out a lung-full of smoke. "I enjoy it and besides how many years can I have left? I might as well enjoy them." Again, she tossed another handful of unopened mail in the trash can.
"You need to open these, they might be important." Matt snatched them up.
"Fire me next year, that's when my pension kicks in." She crushed out the cigarette in a thick crystal ashtray, she gave him a squinty look, "until then you need me."Damn, she was right.