Facebook Pixel

January 7, 2009

Are They Old Enough?

I’m off on my mini-vacation today, but I’ve scheduled some posts, and I’m posing some questions for you all while I’m away. And don’t forget that Emily Bryan is here on the 9th giving away her upcoming release. You don’t want to miss that!

A few years ago, I read an interview with Linda Howard. She was talking about her MacKenzie series. (The first book in this series is called MacKenzie’s Mountain and it’s just awesome. I remember the characters clearly, even though it’s years since I read the book. The first line is “He needed a woman. Bad” and Linda Howard hooked me right there.)

Readers, including me, were clamoring for books about the MacKenzie children. I remember Linda Howard saying that she couldn’t write the story because the characters were children in her mind. She needed to give it time, at least a few years, before she could think of them as adults. Huh! I thought. How silly. This is a fictional world.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I’d written several stories in my Middlemarch Mates series, but the story for the two youngest Mitchell siblings, Joe and Sly, just wouldn’t gel for me. In my mind I thought of them as unruly teens and way too young for the naughty goings on that I wanted to write for them. My solution was to write other stories while they grew up. I packed them off to University while I waited for them to mature. They make a brief appearance in Leticia’s Lovers (coming in Feb) and to my surprise they have grown up. Oh, they still like to tease their oldest brother, Saber, and in Leticia’s Lovers they were plotting and trying to think of a suitable sex toy gift to embarrass their sister-in-law Emily and by extension, Saber.

I’m thinking that 2009 is the year for Joe and Sly to meet their match. They won’t be laughing quite as much by the time the heroine and I have finished with them.

I started thinking about this subject again because I’m reading a book written by Pam Crooks. In the first book the mother is the heroine and in the second book, the child is the heroine. I haven’t finished them yet but it will be interesting to see how I feel when I’ve read them both. (note: there was a publishing gap with the books coming out in different years)

Question: Do you agree with Linda Howard? Do you find it difficult to write/read about characters who were children in a previous book?


  1. moiraeknittoo

    I can understand Ms. Howard’s POV, but truthfully, for me? No problem at all. Otherwise I wouldn’t read 75% of the stuff I do about things like Harry Potter. Or I wouldn’t have made the leap so easily from the first to the second series of books in David Eddings’ _Belgariad_ and _Mallorean_ series. Or, if we really want to go back, even the Black Stallion series, to which I was utterly devoted as a child. Alec grew up within just a few books when I was reading them, but the shift from child to adult was pretty easy in my head.

    Fantastic question though!

  2. Christina Phillips

    Interesting question. I hadn’t thought about it before, but so long as the characters are shown to have grown and matured (as mentioned before, the Harry Potter series – I had no problem with Harry etc snogging because they’d aged both in the books and in my mind) I don’t see there’s problem.

    Have a great holiday, Shelley!

  3. Amy Ruttan

    Johanna Lindsay did this in her Viking trilogy. The first story the hero of the third book was born, in the second book she writes about the daughter who never made an appearance in the first book, I guess making it plausible to think of the baby grown up.

    Hmm, I’ve never really thought about that. I just age them in my mind, but then I haven’t written any stories about children that are born in my books.

  4. Leah Braemel

    I’ve just encountered this phenomenon. I’ve a character in Personal Protection, Kris, who at 24 is the ‘newbie’ of the bodyguards. Since the idea of the hero of an erotica being my son’s age is just too icky, I’m going to write his story last and hopefully some time will pass both in the story and in my own mind.

  5. Alice Audrey

    I’m having a similar problem with the regular Friday post Suzie’s House. The character named Ben is Suzie’s 13 year old son. He’s taken center stage lately because I’m trying to make him grow up. It hasn’t been easy.

  6. Joanne G.

    Hi Shelley. Perrennial lurker but this post grabbed me.
    I’m thinking of Nora Roberts’ Stanislaski series and Taming Natasha with the daughter Freddie. Freddie later got her own book Waiting for Nick – Nick was also a character in the the Stanislaski series. It doesn’t work for me, seeing the kids grown up and getting their own romance. Everyone in the previous book has now aged – especially the first hero and heroine. It’s different when its a saga or something but, for whatever reason (I’m not going to analyse,) I don’t like seeing the kids grown up in a romance.

  7. Julie Robinson

    Interesting question, Shelley. I never really thought about it. I think as long as they weren’t too young—like if they were 16 and in the next novel they’re 21 or so, I just age them in my mind between novels.

    Have a relaxing time on your little vacation.

  8. Dayanna

    Hmm, i have to agree with some people to some degree. You have done well by them allowing for them to grow a bit, we have noticed as you tell us the story of the others first. Now i think we are ready for them because some time has passed by, and we are all DYING to know what will happen with them. :evil:

  9. Amy W.

    No, but it’s all about time lines I guess. I read a lovely series (don’t ask me the name, something Caulder) and the first one was back in the old west. We then went through each generation and the time line advanced to present day. Fabulous! So I guess if you could write starting in the past that’d be one thing or make the sequels take place in the future that’d work too. But what do I know, I just devour the books. I’m much too impatient to actually sit down and write one out.

    Back to the original question that as long as the time line makes sense I have no problem reading about different generations getting their groove on.
    -Amy W.

  10. Nancy Henderson

    Never thought about it before. If the characters are believable, if enough motivation is shown for their thoughts and actions, anything is believable. At least in my warped mind. LOL
    Have a great vacation!

  11. N.J. Walters

    Love, love, love the MacKenzie family! I do understand Linda Howard’s POV.

    With my Jamesville series, there was seven or eight years in-between the first book, where the heroines two brothers were teenagers, and the time when they were adult enough for me to write their books.

    I think it’s natural to need some time and separation to allow the characters to grow up in your mind.

  12. Julie Robinson

    Right on, Dayanna! Now that I think about it more, I can say it would not bother me. I mean, everyone ages, right?!
    Except for me of course
    :grin: Juile

  13. Shelley Munro

    Thanks for all your comments and thoughts.

    I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. I think it’s actually harder for the writer than the reader – the progression in age, I mean.
    My Mitchell brothers definitely needed to age in my mind. As I mentioned I have some very naughty things in mind for them, and they needed to grow a bit older. Dayanna – watch this space. :mrgreen:

  14. Dayanna

    Shelley you tease!

    You are going to make me squirm before you bring them out, aren’t you? :evil: