Hello, everyone! Thank you to All About Romance for hosting us today! In honor of our new release, Permanent Ink, which will be released from Riptide Publishing in a few days—and because it’ll be a central theme across the entire Art & Soul series—we wanted to talk a little about writing May/December relationships. (And we’re giving away a copy of the book! Make a comment to be entered in this drawing!)
One of the reasons why May/December relationships are so interesting is that it brings a unique set of interpersonal challenges for a couple to deal with—in addition to all the others! When people are at such different places in their lives, they bring their own experiences—or lack thereof—to their relationship, and that can make for some pretty interesting tension!
In Permanent Ink the age gap is substantial enough that there’s a generational gap too. Jericho is Generation X and Poe is very much a Millennial. Their views of the world are dramatically different, which can lead to tension but also to them being able to learn from and teach one another. Also, with May/Dec stories, and with this one in particular given that Jericho starts off as Poe’s boss/mentor, there are differing power dynamics to address. It can be a fine line to walk—keeping the relationship as balanced as possible and trying to keep the older character from coming across as a parental or authority figure—especially when kink comes into play, as it does in this story. You have to find the characters’ common ground because that’s where the love and respect develops.
Navigating these issues successfully allows for a lot of open communication and checking in which each other, which is, of course, vital for the success of any relationship. As people get older, their life experiences tend to make the gap in their ages seem less noticeable—especially when a couple has done the hard work of finding the dynamic that works for them. That’s one thing that is very rewarding about writing May/December relationships—it’s always fun to write about a couple defining their own relationship rather than letting the established “rules” of society do it for them.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention that for us as authors, and also the readers who are fans of the May/Dec dynamic, it can be very sexy as well. The idea of one character potentially learning from the other’s additional years of experience, or the reverse—the older character potentially learning from the younger one—can be very compelling. I think Millennials are lucky in that, as a whole, this generation embraces queerness and has set the idea of gender and gender roles on its ear. I recently saw an exchange on Twitter in which an older gentleman was asking for help on how to respectfully address transgender people and how to politely ask about pronouns—because he wanted to be able to better understand and relate to his son and his son’s friends. This is a conversation I couldn’t imagine having had 10-15 years ago when I was in my 20s, but it’s commonplace now, and it shows that the teaching and personal growth can happen both ways and at any age. That’s part of what we hope to explore as we continue writing this series.
Book Blurb: At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.
Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.
Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.