Some books can stand the test of time– and some just get older (AKA the aging thriller).
I’ve recently been revisiting some romantic thrillers by two authors I read religiously in the 80’s and am finding that, while the stories are still enjoyable, there are many things about those books written by one author that are disconcerting. This disorientation is partly because they are set in the U.S., in an era I lived through, so I am very aware of the cultural landscape and can’t dismiss the differences between the book and reality as being caused by foreign locals. But the difference is also due to abiding changes in how society operates. Stories without cell phones, Kindles or social media are… well… odd enough. Add to that the jarring cultural reference point– songs no longer popular, films no longer shown even as late, late movies on cable channels, shoulder pads, sun tan oil, and Adidas as the latest and greatest innovation in footwear– and you have a world that feels very anachronistic. It might even feel hostile to a younger reader who never knew a world without Snapchat and Instagram or never leaves home without sunscreen.
The other writer used more exotic locals and people in her story, and the heroes and heroines were not connected to the police and therefore not using the latest tech to solve crimes. She doesn’t mention movie titles, or songs on the radio, or trendy fast food, or long gone stores in the mall. Though still lacking cell phones and tablets, those stories don’t leave me with the same stranger in a strange land feeling I get from the other writer. Or from books set in the 50’s or 20’s or some era I did not live through myself.
Naturally, this leads me to wonder about my own novels and whether they will age gracefully, or will readers in a decade be left scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss was about. I have some leeway because I wrote a lot of historicals and paranormals where mundane technology plays no part, but will my cozies be all but unreadable in 2025? It is a puzzlement (and if you don’t get the ‘puzzlement’ reference it may be because you are not as old as I am :-)).