A number of years ago I told my niece’s husband not to worry that he (a young dad with a toddler son and new baby daughter) no longer had time to write.  “You can write at any age,” I remember saying, giving several examples, including that of his aunt-in-law, who’s first published writing appeared when she was fifty.

Not long after that I read the term “Silver Scribbler” in an article by Marjorie Kehe published in The Christian Science Monitor of February 8, 2010.  Kehe gave examples of many VERY mature successful authors, including Millard Kaufman. Kaufman was 86 when he began his first novel, A Bowl of Cherries, and 90 when it was published “to enthusiastic reviews,” Kehe says.

I know one of my favorite cozy mystery novels, The Maine Mulch Murders, was written by a woman in her late 80’s–I wish I could recall her name now.

It seems Nephew James has a long time to work on his writing career.

I know, only partly because I am a participant in two Facebook groups dedicated to senior writers (or as someone put it, “Prime Time Authors”),  that most, if not all, reading this blog are what might be called Silver Scribblers, and that’s assuming we are allowed the title even if we color our hair.   Yes, a writing career can take off after Social Security or some pension affords a cushion that allows us to spend time writing, and choosing our publishing pathways,  until our writing begins to sell.  We’ll probably never be rich, but we will be self-employed business owners, and that title is blessed by IRS standards!

By the way, speaking of the IRS–one of the mystery fan lists I participate in has recently had a discussion about whether or not a writer who hasn’t been paid for published work is truly an author.  It began when someone’s nephew (I think it was a nephew) said she wasn’t really an author until she got money for her writing.  Harumph.  Fortunately, no one that I know of on that list supported the young man’s opinion.  In fact, seems to me his statement is kinda like saying a waddling woman with a bulging belly and no “other” children can’t be called a mom.  Say what?

Moving to yet a third topic, this one about the age of readers, not writers.  I have just read a post on the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Facebook group that quotes Bowker as saying 55% of  works that publishers designate for kids 12 to 17 are sold to and read by adults over 18–the majority of those aged 30 to 44.  Now, that sure gives one something to think about.  “Why?” being the opening question.

Is it because the words in young adult stories are simpler — easier to grasp, and fewer adults are accomplished readers these days?

Is it because plots are also simpler, maybe less violent, less inclined to include stomach-turning details?

No, that really can’t be.  Think of Harry Potter.  Or are Harry, and books in a similar vein, the exception?

I’m puzzled.   What do you think?



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  1. Paul McDermott Says:

    Radine, here’s one possible explanation (it works for ME!!! lol)

    1) Write what you KNOW
    2) Write what you PERSONALLY would like to READ (if someone else had written it, and you had to PAY for it!)
    3) We as Writers can ‘become’ the YA central character and feel YOUNG AGAIN (this might be the most appealing aspect of it, and the real reason so many people are WRITING for this target audience!)

    My thoughts, for what they’re worth …

    • radine Says:

      Great thoughts, Paul. Now, on the other hand, I write what one might call mature adult novels, though I admit some teens read them as well. Maybe my category is “SA” for Senior Adult, and the kids like “Grandma” stories? Thinking about this, BECAUSE my characters are mature, they grew up, as I did, in a time when much fiction, if not sappy, was at least “kinder and gentler.” (Agatha Christie instead of Stephen King?) The stories were less dark, less violent, and less psychologically “bent” than those often written by authors from 25 to maybe 55 or 60. Oh yes, in my novels and many in the same category, bad things do happen to good people, but solutions are at hand and character strength and justice triumph.

  2. Marja McGraw Says:

    I could be all wet, but I think it’s because of the subject matter. I think more authors are writing about subjects that appeal to younger or older readers, depending on your view of young and old. How many of us grew up watching movies about vampires and monsters. The old movies weren’t so graphic, but they seemed like it at the time. Just a thought.

    • radine Says:

      Wow, Marja, that clicks with me. YA reading may give us a step back into the days of our earliest experiences and reading, and into a gentler time. I’m going to have to try this out. Anyone here write YA or want to recommend an author or book? (I read three Harry Potter books and quit the series because, alas, they got too violent for this mature adult. Why punish myself with stuff I don’t enjoy!)

      I have been afraid to say I never read vampire books, except for Dean James’ funny (and too short) series–so, never say never, Radine–partly because a (former) Arkansas writer I like as a person writes them, and other series featuring “un-normal” people. I tried one of her’s and didn’t get beyond 50 or so pages before I quit forever. I also am stopped by graphic violence.

  3. terrysthoughtsandthreads Says:

    I retired last year from a middle school, where parents were very invested in their offspring’s education. I cannot tell you how many parents came to me in recent years (most in their thirties, some older, some younger) recommending YA books they’d read. I wouldn’t discount the idea that parents are reading what their kids are reading, so that they can have meaningful discussions about book messages. (I’m being serious here.) But on the less serious side, I will never get to read The Secret Life of Bees because of the number of mother/daughter book club members that brought that title to my attention, to my desk, and to my hand. One little chosen ‘loss’ in life, I guess.

    • radine Says:

      Terry — I hadn’t thought of the idea that parents might be yeading YA to share experiences with their children (or maybe, in some cases, to monitor what the kids were reading). That wouldn’t account for all, but it sure makes sense for a percentage. And it’s great that parents are sharing reading experiences with their children

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