Sunday, July 22, 2007

ELIZABETH OLDFIELD'S VINTAGE BABES

I first met Elizabeth Oldfield just as my third book, Instant Fire, had been published. A group of Mills & Boon authors had been invited to tea at the historic Brown's Hotel in Albemarle Street for afternoon tea, by the fabulous Charlotte Lamb. A very memorable occasion for a very new author.

We met in the cloakroom; I was trying to get my shaking legs under control, while she was so cool, so authorly. But then Elizabeth Oldfield was the author I'd been advised to read when my first Mills & Boon was turned down. She was the stellar author held out as an example...

Now, for the first time in several years, she has a new book. Not a straight romance, but a book for the baby boomer generation. A story to make us all realise that the first chin hair isn't the end of the world. Or having a life...

Here's Elizabeth to tell you a little about it.

After writing 40 Mills & Boon romances over 18 years, I retired from the romantic genre. I wanted time to relax, go travelling with my alpha male husband and, finally, to attempt a long-held ambition of writing mainstream women's fiction. VINTAGE BABES is the result.

Whereas a proliferation of chick-lit is targeted towards younger females, few books cater for the older women - yet more than 50% of women readers are over fifty. VINTAGE BABES explores the sometimes scary, sometimes comic business of being female and of 'a certain age'.

Carol - divorced, fifty-plus and a reporter on a small-town newspaper - has one grumble; the way friends and family will try to fix her up with a Mr Wonderful. No thanks! She's perfectly content on her own, free to wield the TV remote control and shave her legs in the bath with no-one bellyaching. Then life shifts into the kick-ass mode.

Jenny, Carol's meek plump housewife friend, is eager to find herself a job, but her husband disapproves. Can she summon up the confidence to do what she wants?

Tina, a glamorous, recently-widowed gold-digger has one major problem - she hates getting older.

When the three women work-out together with Max, an exotic personal trainer, all their lives are changed.


And here's an excerpt:

'OHOC, OHOT, WLTM a WOCA with GSOH. That'd suit you.'

I looked across at Melanie. 'I beg your pardon.'

'Own house, own car. Own hair, own teeth,' she translated. 'Would like to meet a woman of a certain age with good sense of humour for a long term relationship. Interested?'

'No thanks. And you shouldn't be logging onto encounter sites and printing out details in company time and at company expense. Eric may have let you get away with murder, but Mr Lingard would not approve.'

'He isn't here.'

'Makes no difference.'

If she had a spare moment and, I suspected, whenever she was left in the office alone, Melanie scanned what seemed to be a never-ending scroll of lonely hearts 'males eager to contact females.' When I had asked why a girl in her twenties should need to forage for dates in such a way, I had been informed that 'everyone does it.' I'd also been informed that there are specialist sites catering for vegans, poets and herpes carriers. Wow!

Courtesy of the net, Melanie had even gone speed-dating where, in the course of one evening and after sipping a free cocktail, the organisers had introduced her to eighteen members of the opposite sex and allotted her three minutes to talk to each. So much for romance! Whatever happened to old-fashioned courting?

Melanie had subsequently met up with two of the men and afterwards given me a detailed - too detailed- account of what had happened. While not wanting to go all the way on a first date and be viewed as 'easy', she had agreed to blow jobs. Crikey! In my youth, a lad would've considered himself fortunate if a girl had held his hand. Melanie had not, however, felt inclined to see either of the guys again. And vice versa.

'I am a well-mannered, healthy and intelligent businessman, looking for an older solvent lady who -'

'No!'

Melanie popped a Smint in her mouth. She sucks them continuously. ''Wouldn't you like to team up with a guy? There's a lot on offer for the silver surfer market.'
I stiffened. 'I am not a silver surfer.'

'You are nearly.'

I disagreed. To my reckoning, you don't rate as a silver surfer until you clock at least sixty and more like sixty-five. I was a long way off that. A mere chick. A funky chick, too. But I wasn't prepared to argue the point. Not with someone who regards thirty as 'past it'.

'What I wouldn't like,' I said, 'is to fix to meet a guy over the Net and find myself lumbered with a well-mannered, healthy and intelligent serial killer. Or rapist.'

Melanie rolled her eyes skywards. 'That is so last millenium. On-line dating is just window shopping. You chat for two or three weeks, then arrange a get-together in a public place. If you're sensible, it's perfectly safe. How about this one? JLFAS. Just looking for adulterous sex.'

I shuddered. I'm not saying my moral compass is superior to anyone else's, but I would never sleep with a married man.

'Spare me.'

VINTAGE BABES can be viewed at Accent Press or on at Amazon.

Question: Who is the woman over fifty whom you most admire - and why?

A signed copy of VINTAGE BABES will be sent to the provider of the most impressive answer.

14 comments:

juliemt said...

I remember Elizabeth Oldfield's M&Bs and how much I enjoyed reading them.

A woman over 50 whom I admire hugely is Oprah Winfrey. These days, most celebrities are vapid and vacuous who care only about falling out of nightclubs with the minimum of clothing. I admire Oprah because she's a woman with a social conscience who became a one woman empire due to her determination and hard work and even though she's worth millions, she uses her money to help those less fortunate. If only more 'celebs' were like her.

Becky said...

I have a few of Elizabeth's M&B Books. I love them. :)

A woman I admire who's over 50 is Hilary Clinton. Yes she's married to Bill Clinton and he kinda made a mess of things, but I have to admire a woman who can keep pushing to reach her goal over and over again without giving up. Hilary is still trying to get into office even though her husband's scandals kinda set a lot of people against her. I think that any woman who keeps trying to become president despite the prejudice against women being in higher offices, that most men have, and the scandals and controversies that she's been through is amazing and very courageous. Having a female president could change the US and be a good change at that. Hilary has been in the Senate and other high governmental roles for quite a long time and she's more than suited for the role. She has the training and being married to a former president and having been the First Lady has given her more prespective on how to run and handle the US. I think with her being president things that should have been addressed a long time ago will be addressed and resolved. She will be running for president next year and I hope she makes it to her goal. :)

Lesley Cookman said...

I also used to read Elizabeth Oldfield's books, and I'm delighted that this one has been released by our mutual publisher, who must have a penchant for slightly mature heroines!

Thanks for your comment on Kate's blog, Liz. How's Milo? And by the way, the woman over 50 I most admire? Has to be plural. All my friends in the RNA...

Jennie Adams said...

Hello Liz, and Elizabeth.

The blurb for Vintage Babes sounds great - very relatable for many, many women, I should imagine. I certainly chuckled and nodded my head as I read along.

There are two women over fifty whom I admire a lot and have learned from. My boss at my part-time work, Anne, and my sister Leonie. In different ways they've both really impacted on the way I look at my world, made me think about who I am and who I want to be. Most of all, they make life fun.

Jennie

Lynne Marshall said...

I'd love to win this book! There aren't enough books for my age group! And we're big readers.

I agree with Lesley that a huge majority of authors are to be admired and are over fifty.

Please don't take this wrong, I don't want to come off as egotistical, because I am still stunned over how I've managed to change my life. I didn't even start writing until I was fifty. My kids were raised and I suddenly had more time on my hands. I reinvented myself and followed a long and hidden dream to write books. I discovered I was a romance writer, because my favorite part in any book I ever read was the love story. Five years later I amazingly got past the slush pile and found a publisher. Mills and Boon Medicals. I'm living a dream I never even knew I had up until seven years ago, and I couldn't be happier.

Here's to the old broads!

:-)
Lynne

Kate Hardy said...

What a fab excerpt - I'm going to have to go and order this book now!

Women over 50 I admire. That's a toughie.

Can I cheat? Had my mum still been alive, I would nominate her because she was a brilliant nurse and an inspiration to an awful lot of student nurses, juggled a career and a family, raised a lot of money for the British Heart Foundation and always had time to help people. When she had to retire due to ill health, she decided she was going to follow in my footsteps and take an English degree; she started with her O level (langauge and literature) and got a grade A despite not being well enough to attend most of her lessons.

Sadly she died 20 years ago - at the same age I am now - but she would've been 61 this year. And I think she would still be raising money for charity, probably writing books, still making a difference to the lives of everyone round her, and she'd have been the most fantastic grandmother. A woman who was very far from ordinary but saw herself as just an ordinary person.

pomo housewife said...

I used to teach art at a community center, and the director and a couple of participants were in their fifties and sixties.

They were such a mad bunch - we used to do more talking than painting and they were so frank and funny about things like menopause and friends who were battling cancer, that they gave me great hope.

For the first time in my life I realized that I didn't have to get old and boring. I could be old and outrageous! (Though I don't think I'll follow Janice's example of getting a tattoo on my foot for my 60th. Maybe my hip, though...

cheers
Helen

Christina Hollis said...

Elizabeth Oldfield is an inspiration to all of us - I loved the extract, and can't wait to read the whole book! On a more personal note, my grandmother was the most impressive 'older woman' I've ever met. After leaving school at 14, she became a top cook (women were never called chef in those days!)then gave it all up to marry a professional soldier and brought up four children single handed 'off the strength' in a small house 2 miles from the nearest shop, with no transport! Until the day she died in her eighties, her hands were always busy: cooking, cleaning, sewing or knitting. Her mind was as sharp as a pin, too and she had a lively interest in everything from the weather to world events. What a woman!

Valerie said...

Hi, I am really enjoying this blog very much and come back to read everyday.

As far as which woman over 50 I admire, there are so many. There is my mother, who has disciplined herself and kept her youthful appearance, kept exercising and who is now a very healthy 70 year old. I hope I look as good as her when I get that old...hehe!! There are many authors whose books I love, whose online persona comes over so vibrant and young, then when I see a pic of them, I'm flabberghasted at how old they are!! But, really flabberghasted in a pleasantly surprised way.

Wow, I think....I wanna be like them when I grow up....*I'm over 50 myself..hehe!!*

Hugs
Valerie

Sharon Kendrick said...

Nadine - have just read this excerpt, minutes after sending you a long-overdue email....and I LOVE it. Your writing is as sparky as ever and the theme is deliciously different. Where can I get my copy?
Love
Sharon xx

Liz Fielding said...

Sharon, how lovely to see you here. There are links in the blog to Accent Press and Amazon where you can buy the books, or you could just order it from your local bookshop!

Cheers, Liz

Anonymous said...

The woman over 50 I most admire is my former Pastor for years in Decatur, Il. Syvlia Erickson. She's been a part of my life since I was 8 years old. I am now 57 and can still call her. She is struggling with blindness now because of catarats stealing her eyesight but she is still serving God. I have had her picture on my wall everywhere I have lived since marrying and I've traveled. It and another Sunday School Teacher I had (first one - now with Jesus) have been my constant reminder that if they can make it, so can I.
Jane Squires - jrs362@hotmail.com

Merri said...

The woman I admire the most was over 50 when I discovered her. She has since died but I hope she can still count because she means so much to me. She grew up in the Durham, NC area and was a local legend when I discovered her and lived in that area but is unknown to most of the world.

Her grandmother was a slave and had a child whose father was the slave owner. The slave owner's sister, Mary Ruffin, took that child and cared for her and made sure she was baptized and learned to read. Pauli Murray was orphaned at an early age and raised by her aunt who taught first grade. Pauli and her family lived in extreme poverty most of her life, a poverty much deeper than what most people ever even consider. Thanks to her aunt's influence, Pauli valued education. After high school, Pauli graduated with honors from Hunter College in New York, but in 1938, was denied admission to law school at the University of North Carolina because of her race, and to Harvard University because of her gender. These two experiences inspired her to be an activist on both issues long before the activists whose names are so familiar. Pauli Murray struggled during the Depression, and got a law degree at Howard University, a master's degree and doctorate in law from the University of California-Berkeley in 1965.
Pauli Murray was a civil rights lawyer, a professor, a college vice president, and deputy attorney general of California. I believe she even clerked for the Supreme Court, a nice twist after being denied admission based on race and gender.

When Pauli Murray was 62 years old, she went to seminary. In 1977, she was the first black woman in the U.S. to become an Episcopalian priest. In Chapel Hill NC, a town next to her hometown of Durham, She performed first Holy Eucharist at the Chapel of the Cross (my church when I lived there), where her grandmother, a slave, had been baptized. What the local people know beyond the formal records is that she read from the lectern given to that church so long ago by Mary Ruffin, and read from the Bible that Mary Ruffin had given her slave grandmother during her baptism. Pauli Murray wrote Proud Shoes, a family memoir and poetry Dark Testament and Other Poems and an autobiography Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage was published after her death.

Pauli inspires me because her life was a living example of bridges between disparate groups and interests. She inspires me because despite greater poverty than I may ever know, she aspired to inner honor of herself and others. She is also important to me because she is local and unknown to most people. Having learned the history of her aunt and grandmother as well as her individual life, I feel inspired that just maybe history and our foremothers have a way of blazing paths for us today and setting things right that we may never know at the time.

I really tried to keep this short. Lots more info about her is available

Merri said...

A PS. I am sure that Pauli Murray does not have any conection to Liz Fielding and Elizabeth Oldfield but that's what happens when I read Liz Fielding and romance---my heart gets moved in unexpected ways.