Shannon, here, but only for a bit. Today, I have a wonderful guest blogger with an equally as wonderful guest post. Kendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author. Even better? She’s broadening the horizon for female characters by featuring a protagonist in her late 20’s, a very underrepresented group in fiction, and today, she’s writing about why it’s so important that we give this group a bit more attention. Welcome, Kendra!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.
Where My Girls At? by Kendra L. Saunders
Getting older is weird, isn’t it? I guess for some people it happens at a pace that feels normal, and you sense yourself progressing from a teenager to a young adult, falling in love, getting married, settling down, having a kid, or getting divorced and floating around in a mansion with only your fine champagne, pool boy, and fancy lingerie collection to keep you company.
For me, aging has been a cyclical waking dream of confusing beginnings and ends, exciting adventures, and a few too many sinus issues to keep track of.
Maybe it’s the artist lifestyle, but I never followed the well lit path from an early romance to a kid, steady job, functioning car, and 10pm bedtime. I’ve lived in Texas, New Hampshire, Idaho, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New York City. I’ve been a cool/cute music store clerk, a waitress, a skincare saleswoman at NYC’s 34th St. Macy’s, a telemarketer, a caterer to celebrity guests (yay Oprah), a marketing guru for YA books, and a retail cashier, among many other jobs. I’ve attended New York Fashion Week (twice, and counting), had a book signing at BEA in New York City, spent two amazing weeks in England all by my lonesome for research and recreation, and been front row at some of the coolest concerts ever.
I’ve also lived in a haunted apartment, dealt briefly with bedbugs (eww) and saw a gang leap out from behind a parked car and shoot someone right in front of my eyes in Brooklyn one night while I walked home.
Between all of these adventures and misadventures, I’ve picked up female friends from all over the world, from every pay grade and lifestyle choice. One thing that many of us have in common is that we are in our 20s-40s and still putting the pieces together. The women of our modern world have a new set of challenges that they haven’t before… we live in an expensive world, we work hard for what we have, and less and less of us are finding (or keeping) romantic partners, for a myriad of reasons. Many of us are finding our partners when we are older than ever before, too.
After working for a YA publisher, I saw firsthand that many readers of the increasingly popular YA genre are not actually teenagers, but ladies 20-45yrs who enjoy the fun storylines and fast pace of YA novels. At first I wondered if I had just missed out on something huge and everyone else was reliving the best years of their life. My own teenage years were a blur of anguish, loneliness, religious confusion, and abuse. Did everyone else really have all of these great adventures and romances in high school? I mean, maybe some people really did fall in love with hot vampires, go on adventures to Ibiza, sip expensive champagne, and hang out with fashion designers when they were 16. Hey, the Kardashians exist! It’s possible, sure.
But the truth is, there’s a scary gap in entertainment between sexy seventeen year old girls and the middle age stresses of traditional femininity. Bond girls seem to get younger and younger with every Bond movie. Even the chick lit category seems to be moving younger and older respectively. (Thank God for you, Sophie Kinsella. Please never stop writing!)
Women looking for exciting stories featuring female characters are flooding to the YA genre, because that’s where all the fun stories are.
I don’t see many of my friends in pop culture, and Amy Schumer can’t carry the almost-30-heroine torch alone.
With my upcoming book Dating an Alien Pop Star, I have a female protagonist who’s a lot like the women I know. Daisy didn’t have the easiest time in her teenage years… or her early 20s… or her mid 20s. Somewhere in her late 20s she decided to take a major risk and throw away the safe life that had been pushed on her, and move to New York City. Of course she’s kidnapped by aliens almost immediately, because nothing ever, ever, ever goes how you expect it to in New York.
Daisy also falls on the demi side of the sexuality spectrum, so she’s avoided hookup culture and finds herself at the crossroads of 30, single, and not sure if she feels as guilty about it as society says she should. She’d really like a partner, but until she finds one worth her time, she’s going to take care of herself and her dreams, thank you very much.
It gets discouraging for people like Daisy (and me, or you) when we see all the great, fun, exciting stories only going to beautiful CW-channel teenagers or twenty-one-year-olds who are preternaturally wealthy and well connected. Those stories are fun, sure, but they shouldn’t be all we see. We need first time love stories with a twenty-seven year old woman. With a thirty-five year old. With a forty-one year old. There are vampires, princes/princesses, and cute firemen to be met, even if you’re thirty-one. There are quests to go on, even at thirty-six. There are adventures for aromantic/asexual women who want to do something amazing and don’t care about falling in love. If guys can have movies and books about their life at every single age from 10-98, shouldn’t us ladies?
Kendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author who writes books about magical, dark-haired men, interviews famous people, and suggests way too many bands to you via whatever social media platform she can get her hands on. She writes with good humor because humor is the best weapon for a girl who can’t learn karate (or ballroom dancing). She is the author of upcoming sci-fi rom-com DATING AN ALIEN POP STAR, upcoming fantastical comedy THE UNLOVE SPELL, the magic realism novel INANIMATE OBJECTS, the dark comedy DEATH AND MR. RIGHT and the poetry collection GEMINIS AND PAST LIVES.
Find her online at www.kendralsaunders.com, on twitter at @kendrybird, and on instagram @kendralsaunders
Dating an Alien Pop Star: Amazon
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