Is sixty the new forty?

Although I’m encouraged by all the young readers and writers I meet on Goodreads (“young” is a relative term, of course), fiction writers shouldn’t ignore baby boomers and older readers.  People are living longer, and older people are more likely to be avid readers because they’re less likely to be distracted by streaming video, social media, video games, and so forth. Normal seventy-year-olds aren’t fanatical Twitter users either in general, with certain infamous exceptions.

I’ve already written a few books where aging is a subtheme. The first, The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan, is where DHS agent Ashley Scott worries about retirement and being alone, and uncovers, among other things, a government conspiracy that “solves the problem” of aging agents and scientists who might blab Top Secret information in their senility. Scott is Detective Castilblanco’s friend.  He too has thought about retirement as his wife and he adopt a relative’s children (see Family Affairs and Gaia and the Goliaths—the entire detective series is on sale now at Smashwords until December 24).

Rembrandt’s Angel is my main fictional bow to themes involving aging. Scotland Yard Inspector Esther Brookstone kicks some butt even as she ponders retirement; she becomes obsessed with recovering a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two.  Esther is in her sixties; her paramour is in his forties.  She proves sixty is the new forty in this torrid love affair which heats up the novel.

While I can easily identify with this older age group, I was also a university professor and worked closely with gen-Xers in my old day-job (generally preferred to and more simpatico than the older and arrogant “gurus”).  I can identify with this age group too.  And, as a father and grandfather, I can identify with even younger people.  So, even though Ashley Scott, Rolando Castilblanco, and Esther Brookstone are older characters in those books I mentioned, they relate well and listen to younger ones. In fact, like many older writers, I enjoy writing stories about young adults. The Secret Lab is a YA sci-fi mystery, for example, about some precocious tweens, and I’m making final changes to a new YA novel for next year.

The best book is one that appeals to all age groups.  I was surprised at an event a year ago where I was signing two print books, The Midas Bomb (Second Edition, and #1 in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series”) and Rogue Planet.  The surprise? An eighty-year-old woman was interested in the sci-fi novel, and a twelve-year-old girl was interested in the mystery/thriller (it has adult themes, but the mother was there, insisted her daughter could handle them, and gave her permission for the purchase).

Writers shouldn’t slight any age group, although it might take several novels to cover them all.  And with fiction, it’s never easy to predict which readers will be interested in a particular book (making “writing to your market” a bunch of malarkey).  Who knows? Maybe a twelve-year-old will have a keen interest in art and see a lot of her grandmother in Esther Brookstone!


Rembrandt’s Angel (a mystery/thriller from Penmore Press). To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. This book is available in ebook format at Amazon and Smashwords and the latter’s affiliate retailers (Apple, B&N, Kobo, and others). It’s also available as a print version at Amazon, B&N, or your favorite bookstore (if not there, ask for it). See the review and interview at Feathered Quill.

In libris libertas!

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