Anyone who knows me and knows what I write will know that my characters are often quite a bit older than a. myself and b. a lot of other writer’s characters. There are a couple of reasons for this, not least the fact that I hate child heroes. When I was a kid, child heroes were great because they had swords and fought evil, but they were children and I was a child who wanted swords and to fight evil. Now I’m older and inexplicably cynical. Looking back at my fairly short life there is no real reason for me to have become cynical, in fact I still have the mentality of a child half the time, yet I still find myself hating a lot of kids films because nobody ever dies where they should. Villains rule! Ursula totally trumps Ariel in The Little Mermaid and I dare you to argue with me.
Let’s look at it this way. Realistically, how many people under eighteen do you think could take up a sword with no training and defeat a man of thirty or forty with about ten or twenty years of training? I’m guessing the answer is none. Plus, I find child heroes too innocent. You can really only go so far with child characters and they haven’t got the life experience to have any real demons without going into some form of child abuse, which probably wouldn’t go down well with your audience. Also, I feel like the hero is smug. He or she may not be smug at all as a character, but when a child beats an adult you feel cheated. Let’s face it, this adult is clearly better than you at fighting or magic or whatever, but he’s been beaten by a child. That means that, by default, you have also been beaten by a child and are now inferior. Smug little gits.
The other reason for my older characters is the love interests. I genuinely cannot think of a story I have written where the characters were near my own age, except for the romcom I wrote which was set in a school (think Love Actually, but in a school). I find it very difficult to write about love and attraction between younger characters and I don’t know why, it’s absolutely no different than between any age of people. But the fact of the matter is I like older men (and beards). So when I write about the handsome love interest, he is always older so I have to bump up the rest of the ages to make it not weird for people (except in the case of The Company where my hero was sixty-something and his lover was twenty-six, although he spent a lot of time trying not to be attracted to her). The first case of this was in Across the Wall when I created the character of Weiss. As I was writing him I fell totally in love with him because (I wrote him) he was sweet and caring, but he also needed a cuddle, but then so did the main character.
This got increasingly awkward as she was twenty-eight and he was fifty-two and my friends, who I was reading the story to at the time, didn’t like the idea (I only ever proposed it to them as a joke because I knew they wouldn’t approve). I had to write around the obvious attraction that was occurring which cocked up the story a bit. And for anyone who says ‘They can’t have a future together’ worry not, they don’t get a future together, but not because of the age gap.
In retrospect, this is probably something I should work on for future projects.