If you are a reader of lesbian fiction, especially romances, you might have noticed that most main characters in those novels are in their twenties and thirties. Books about older lesbians are a rare find. So I’m pleased to say that I got to interview an author of one of these rare books.
Jane Waterton is a fellow Ylva Publishing author. As the daughter of a bookseller, she grew up around books. She recently published her first novel, Times of Our Lives, which–as a reviewer said–is “a wonderful story that shows that love is not simply for the young.”
So let’s see what Jane can tell us about her book.
How would you describe Time of Our Lives? What is it about?
Set in OWL’s Haven, the first Australian lesbian retirement village on the south coast of NSW, Time of our Lives is the story of six residents. The book takes place over twelve months and charts the journey of these friends, as they deal with new relationships, old relationships and the possibility of second chances. Through everything, they retain their humor and sense of irreverence. It’s a book about celebration and the fact that you are never too old to fall in love.
What inspired you to write a novel about love and being older?
The idea came from a very funny afternoon with friends, all of us talking about living together in a lesbian retirement village and the mischief we could get up to. On the way home I happened to mention to my partner that those stories would make a great book. “So write it,” she said. Sixteen years later, after several stops and starts (mostly stops!), I did. I had also reached my sixties and was looking for more books with characters I felt I could relate to “Women of a Certain Age,” as I like to call them! Just because we get older, doesn’t mean we stop living, loving and raising hell! Our bodies may slow down, but our minds and hearts are still going strong and that needs to be remembered and celebrated.
What do you like about your main characters?
The characters all come from very different backgrounds and have lived very different lives. They are independent and supportive, accept each other’s differences and celebrate their joys. They’re feisty, strong women, dealing with what life is throwing at them and despite their age, still learning lessons!
Did you plot out the entire book before you started writing, or did you explore where the story would take you?
When I started, I had the beginning, the end and a faint path through the rest of the novel. I knew there were going to be 5 major characters but halfway through the book another character suddenly appeared on the page! I am still wondering where she came from, but she ended up changing the story.
What was your favorite part about writing Time of Our Lives?
After sixteen years, I could say finishing it! Seriously though, seeing where the characters were taking me, watching them grow. Sitting with my laptop, fur family and partner close by, experiencing the joy of just writing.
What prompted you to choose this setting as a backdrop for your novel?
As an Older Wiser Lesbian, myself and many of my friends are at the stage when we are considering our future. Growing older is inevitable, so let’s embrace it with laughter and joy. I also wanted to acknowledge the incredibly difficult social and historical journey that many gays and lesbians of our age have made throughout the decades. While there are no lesbian retirement villages here and same sex marriage is STILL not legal in Australia, we never give up hope! If I write it’s legal, will that make it true?
Which scene was the hardest for you to write? What was the hardest thing about writing Time of Our Lives in general?
Many of the scenes and stories in this book are actually true. Some are funny and some not so much. The hardest thing about writing the book is that it was the first one, so I really had no idea what I was doing! At the time it seemed easy…and then came the editing! I also wanted to make sure that it was a book that resonated with women of all ages, not just those who were older. That was a balancing trick and I hope I’ve succeeded.
What did you learn from writing this book?
That there are some incredibly generous authors out there, authors that will guide, encourage and nurture someone who is just starting out. The editing process was a complete vertical learning curve and I have been so grateful to have such a wonderful team behind me. Oh yes, and I also learnt that I will NEVER again write a book with so many characters!
What draws you to writing lesbian romances?
I have to say, reading lesbian romances! There are so many great books out there. The authors and stories inspire and I am just a big romantic fool.
What are you currently reading?
I have just finished Laurie Salzler’s new book, In the Stillness of Dawn, which I really enjoyed.
Are you working on a new novel? What can your readers expect next from you?
My partner and I live on the edge of the desert in a mining town in Western Australia, so my next novel is going to be set here. There has been a large increase of older women working in this region, many of them looking for a new start. It’s a story waiting to be told!
How can your readers stay in touch with you?
Or catch me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jane.waterton
I’m always happy to hear from people, so drop me a line and say hello!
Thanks for patiently answering my questions, Jane.
Readers, if you’d like to give a novel about friendship, love, and life as an older lesbian a chance, check out Times of Our Lives: