You can start publishing at age 50

Judith Krantz, best-selling romance novelist, died at her home in Los Angeles on June 22 at the age of 91. She wrote for Cosmopolitan (about multiple orgasms, of all things) and other magazines until she published her first fiction when she was already 50 years old. I’m not about to compare myself to her in terms of success or prolific production, but it seems there is hope for writers beyond 40 like myself. Maybe when I turn half-centennial, some publisher will accept my manuscript.

Judith Krantz went on to publish ten novels and sold more than 85 million copies in more than 50 languages. Most of her work has been turned into TV movies or mini-series, many of which her husband, Steve Krantz, produced. Often dubbed “airport fiction”, her books made for easy reading material that at best was hard to put down and offered escapism. Krantz herself said of her work: “I always ask myself if what I’m writing will satisfy a reader who’s in a plane that can’t land because of fog, or who’s recovering from an operation in a hospital or who has to escape to a more delightful world for whatever reason. That is the test.”

As a successful author, Krantz lived a glamorous life that rivaled that of her characters. The appealing formula of her books boils down to descriptive details and equal parts sex and shopping. “I write the best books I know how. I can’t write any better than this,” she said. Incidentally, Sex and Shopping is also the title of her autobiography.

The Essential Judith Krantz

Guilty pleasure or not, if you want to pick up an entertaining Judith Krantz book, start with her debut, Scruples. I can also highly recommend Princess Daisy, I’ll Take Manhattan, Lovers, and Mistral’s Daughter.

“If you’re going to write a good erotic scene, you have to go into details. I don’t believe in thunder and lightning and fireworks exploding. I think people want to know what’s happening.”

Her work features plenty of painstaking descriptions of 80s outfits and loads of rich men charming women with their sexiness. But what I particularly enjoy about Krantz’s stories are the heroines, who are proactive and competent and already lead fulfilled lives even without a man.

Judith Krantz did not churn out dumb, brain atrophying chic lit but spun creative tales to high commercial success. Her work lives on to inform us about 80s fashion, French paintings, and lesbian sex.