“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 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. But 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. So I invented her.
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.”