I recently got the rights back to the rest of my backlist books, and I’m really looking forwarding to giving them a new life as e-books. I’m currently working to get cover art and formatting done for my loosely-connected trilogy, “The Three Disgraces”.
As I’m reformatting the manuscripts, I’m reading them over and it has struck me how young the heroines seem. These were, after all, traditional Regencies and young heroines were typical, including the starry-eyed 17 year old going to London for her first Season. I have never felt comfortable writing a heroine that young, but two of these heroines are 19 and the third is 20. Somehow, those few years seem important to me.
Young heroines could be considered historically accurate. Consider Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who married at seventeen. But her marriage isn’t the stuff of romance novels, and not everyone married so young.
Part of my reluctance to write a very young heroine is an instinct backed up by recent research, that the frontal lobes of our brains (which handle things like decision making and judgment) aren’t fully developed until the early 20s. It’s why really bright teenagers can still do really stupid things. Even though 19-20 isn’t quite through the process, it is further than 17.
My heroines do some silly things, but I’m fond of them anyway. Thinking of myself at nineteen, I remember being a bit clueless, but still a pretty cool person. Like me, my “Three Disgraces” mean well and learn from their mistakes. In my imagination they continue to learn and mature in the happily ever after.
I doubt I’ll ever write a 17-year-old heroine. Perhaps, if life experiences forced her to be mature beyond her years, but probably not. My inclination now is to write heroines who are in their 20s or older, but still works-in-progress. We all are, I think.
What do you think of teenaged heroines? How young can they be and still be credible as heroines?