Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Never too old to be a chick?

By Cindy Roesel

I’ve been writing book reviews for many years, including a few for CHICK LIT CENTRAL and lately have been finding myself not completely relating to the wonderful chicks in their 20s and 30s. I remember those days, but let’s just say if I HAD kids, they’d be experiencing their 20s and 30s. So I was recently talking with Melissa A. about how I wanted to start reviewing more novels about women like me. Then we started talking about the term "Chick Lit" and I wondered at what age do ladies stop being chicks?  As we talked about the labels used to identify books about women my age I learned they’re calling them HEN LIT and MATURE LIT. Take a look at Wikipedia – its’ right there – matron lit, hen lit, boomer lit! The idea that I’m a HEN or even that I’m MATURE is so far from reality! That really annoys me! I’m more girly than most girls I know! Check out my picture on Facebook. It’s recent, not touched up and I think I happen to look pretty good! Lots of us gals in our 50s look great and WE ARE NOT CLUCKING HENS! What the heck does that even mean? Fifty really is an in-between age. You’re looking ahead at what’s coming up and hopefully wiser from your past experiences. It isn’t about your looks. So isn’t CHICK LIT really a state of mind? It’s a state in MY mind, lady! You can be a chick at ANY age! I’m here to tell you that as long as you are a modern woman with sass, class and in my case, some brass, there will be room for more chickies in the nest! I LOVE CHICK LIT CENTRAL and LOVE BEING A CHICK!

Speaking of chicks, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte-AKA the chicks of Candace Bushnell’s novel, SEX AND THE CITY--are approaching 50-something, if they're not there already! (Samantha is the first to hit this age group.)  And in case you haven’t heard, the big buzz on the Internet is Helen Fielding is coming out with a third installment of BRIDGET JONES DIARY just as her first BJD is celebrating 16 fabulous years!

In BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY, Bridget is 50-something. It seems the novel, which hits theatres October 13th this year, already has Helen/Bridget fan’s panties all in a twist and planning parties. I haven’t read any of the galleys or advance review copies, but the chat on-line seems to be Bridget is up to her old ways, only she’s doing it in the landscape of social media! That could be a good or bad thing. But keep in mind we hear that she’s single again and she’s intimately involved with her old friend – alcohol....and she’s writing EVERYTHING down.

Of course, the book will probably eventually make it to screen. Hollywood hasn’t had a great track record of being too kind to 40-plus women either on first dates, twisting in yoga, wearing wedding dresses, whining in restaurants, traveling to Paris, London, New York or (Insert City). One may argue Sex and the City and Bridget Jones (both books) defined the modern woman for the late 1990’s. Will  BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY or E.L. James’ FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Trilogy initially define the early 21st century woman? Only time will tell....

I’m excited by a lot of the fiction I’ve been reading by chicks lately. Let me list a few novels to toss into your beach bag, along with your sunscreen.

GEODUCKS ARE FOR LOVERS, debut novel by Daisy Prescott, set in the Pacific Northwest
THE WIDOW WALTZ by Sally Koslow, about midlife reinvention
ELIZABETH the FIRST WIFE by Lian Dolan, where an ex-husband makes his ex-wife a deal she can’t refuse
THE GLASS WIVES by Amy Sue Nathan, an unexpected example of what defines family

When considering this whole chick-age relationship with her readers, I can’t think of an author who has a more seamless relationship than Claire Cook. Claire wrote her first novel at age 45 in 1995 and just came out last month with her 10th novel, TIME FLIES. What an amazing woman and author! We could only wish for a career like hers.....

Right now, while I complete the sequel to my first novel, the goal is to finish the book, so I'm not focused on any of the character's ages. We are beyond that. At this point, everyone seems to be at their perfect stage of "chickdom" and womanhood.


Connie said...

Golly, I hope age doesn’t keep one from being considered to be a “chick.” i am 67 and I adore chick lit! It is the happiest, most down to earth genre ever and always leaves me laughing and happy. So, I hope that it won’t get to the point that I’m asked for my ID before I can buy a chick lit book. ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the Geoducks shout-out!

My motto is "grow up, not old". :)



Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this! It falls into the category of "I wish I had written it"! Those of us older "chicks" are just wiser "chicks" and we can read and write the books that speak to us and our continuing sense of fun. Can't wait to read your new book. Best, P.

AiringMyLaundry said...

I think you can be a chick as long as you wish!

I cannot wait for the new Bridget Jones book to come out!

Susie Orman Schnall said...

I loved your post! As a 42-year-old woman, I am shocked every time I hear those radio commercials that say, "If you're over 40..." and they are implying that that is OLD! Crazy! The heroine of my novel On Grace is about to turn 40 in the book and it celebrates this wonderful time in women's lives. When we finally get to start being who we are! I do have to say, though, that while I have no problem reading books about 20-something women and they're a lot of fun, I do very much enjoy reading about women my age just because it's more authentic and relatable. Thx again for the great post!!

Janine said...

I believe as we get older, we just have more life experiences with us. I'm proud of my age and to have all the knowledge I have. I wear every one of my gray hairs and wrinkles proudly. I don't have any children either, but I have nieces and a nephew that fall in those age groups. I can honestly say, I don't wish to revisit those ages. I'm proud to be a 48 year old chick.

J. B. Everett said...

Chick-lit, for me is an attitude--finding "happy" within the chaos that is life. It's relevant at any age. Perhaps the publishing industry links the genre more tightly to the age of the main character, but the spirit of the story isn't limited. At a smidgen shy of fifty, my life feels like a more grounded version of my twenties, looking at everything with a fresh lens.

Martha Reynolds said...

Love this post, Cindy, and I love YOU!
My female characters are usually over 40, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

lol! I so remember when I first heard the term "Hen Lit" - I was very much against that. "Lady Lit" wasn't much better. Back then I had a blog called "Chicks Over 40" - so I think you can be a chick at any age.

I'd love to think this is making a comeback because not only do I love reading it, but I love writing it.

Thanks for posting this!

Unknown said...

Fascinating subject, Cindy! I thought a lot about the labels before I pitched Thin Rich Bitches. My main character is 40 years old and divorced, with a 10 year old child. So was it Mom Lit or Divorce Lit or Chick Lit? I decided to avoid all of the labels, assuming that Chick Lit would define the genre not the age of the main character. So I agree! Chicks can and are all ages!

Books Etc. said...

This is a great post! I'm still firmly in "chick" territory but I can understand this. Thanks for sharing!

Jackie Bouchard said...

Love this post and have also thought a lot about this topic. When I wrote "What the Dog Ate" and signed my agent, I didn't know what genre to call it. My agent said it wasn't chick lit cuz the m.c. is 41. She called it "hen lit." Good lord, I hate that phrase! I told her no way would I ever call it that, so we settled on pitching it as "humorous commercial women's fiction." What a mouthful!

I feel funny calling my book chick lit because I do think folks expect the heroine will be 20 or 30-something. And, yet, I myself - like you - think I am a very young 48 and I definitely consider myself a chick still (NOT a hen!!).

Hoping the older (but apparently not wiser) Bridget Jones will do great things for advancing stories with chick lit heroines of (slightly) advanced years!

Great post!

Tracie Banister said...

"I’m here to tell you that as long as you are a modern woman with sass, class and in my case, some brass, there will be room for more chickies in the nest!"

Love this so much I had to repeat it! :) This was an amazing article, Cindy! And it's a very timely topic, one that I've discussed with many of my author friends. What happened to 40 being the new 30? Why do women of a certain age have to classify themselves as "mature?" All the labels are so insulting. Hen Lit is the absolute worst; it has so many negative connotations. I, for one, like to write about heroines of all ages (In my first book, the lead characters ranged in age from 24-48.) All the stages of a woman's life are interesting, funny, and fraught with challenges. So, I think they should all be celebrated and enjoyed, in real life and on the page.

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson said...

A few months back I read that chick lit characters are no longer chick lit characters after age 35. My character is 40 something. When I read "hen lit" I might have had a little panic attack. I do agree that I don't relate much to the 25 yr old somethings anymore. My daughter is 21. I refuse to be considered a hen lit writer. I did also read something that said chick lit is a state of's an attitude. That made me feel better.

Unknown said...

Now that I think about it, all of us chafe against the ___-lit labels and there are no similar labels for books that appeal to men! Those books have never been pigeon-holed as "6-pack ab lit" or "balding lit" or "divorced-Dad lit." Hmmmmm . . . !!!