“Time Doesn’t Run Out, It Runs Better”: 30 Writers Who Found Success After 30
You may have seen Forbes’ recent “30 Under 30” list. There are some GREAT creators and authors on that list who absolutely deserve the acclaim (Rupi Kaur and Clint Smith come to mind). They put together a solid list. But, as Cassandra Khaw (@casskhaw) pointed out on Twitter, these lists can make those of us in the over-30 bracket feel like we already missed out. Like success after 30 is an impossible dream.
Just because the media’s obsessed with wunderkind and child geniuses, it doesn’t mean that you become a lesser thing after the unmagical age of 30.
— Cassandra Khaw (@casskhaw) November 14, 2017
Which is definitely not the case. Cassandra next put out a call to writers and creators and literally anyone who found success after 30. The results are inspiring to read through, and they include some of the biggest names in fiction. From our biggest writers to up-and-comers, here’s 30 writers who found success after 30.
… you know what? For the kids in the back and for everyone who is worried they’re out of time, can those of you kicked ass post-30 please raise a hand?
— Cassandra Khaw (@casskhaw) November 14, 2017
At 38, I had an idea. I *thought* maybe I should try writing a book.
I did. That book is LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS. I’m 46. There’s no expiration date on having new dreams, friends. https://t.co/UTZGRaXIuO — Samira Ahmed (@sam_aye_ahm) November 14, 2017
First novel published when I was 35. Campbell Award at 37. Best Novel Hugo at 44. You got all kinds of time, folks. https://t.co/z4X0kpBgPL
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) November 14, 2017
I didn’t even start trying to publish ’til I turned 30. Sold first novel at 36. https://t.co/kgKyPHNm6f
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) November 14, 2017
Sold my first novel at age 40. Made the NYT bestseller list with my third novel at age 45.
— Bryn Greenwood (@bryngreenwood) November 14, 2017
I sold my first book at 43.
— Stephen Blackmoore (@sblackmoore) November 14, 2017
First story sold at 22. First novel sold at 37. First Hugo award won at 40. https://t.co/6KO0K3YSNH
— Charlie Stross (@cstross) November 14, 2017
Didn’t get published until 39. Turned out okay. — Kevin Hearne (@KevinHearne) November 14, 2017
My first book came out when I was 34 (I think!).
— Adam Christopher (@ghostfinder) November 14, 2017
First and second novels released aged 33, third one released aged 35, recorded and released album with my band (no label, just us, but still) aged 34, started freelancing for Black Library aged 35. I don’t get older, I level up 😀
— Mike Brooks (@MikeBrooks668) November 14, 2017
[raises hand] Way after 40. So, fuck that noise.
— Stina Leicht (@StinaLeicht) November 14, 2017
I wrote my first novel when I was 38. It didn’t get published until I was 65. Then it won a Lambda.
— Roz Kaveney (@RozKaveney) November 14, 2017
I legit didn’t even know who I was as a person until my 30s in so many ways. Some of that was pure economics – it’s hard to put time into self and creativity when you are scrambling to survive.
— Marianne Kirby (@TheRotund) November 14, 2017
First book sold at 34, and my coauthor was older ?
— Jana Grcevich (@janagrc) November 14, 2017
Wrote first book at 41. Sold my third book at 45. Nominated for a Carol Award this year. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just getting started. 🙂 https://t.co/pYJ6v3Qccu
— Christa MacDonald (@CricketMacD) November 14, 2017
Debut novel came out at 36. I think I got my first pro short fiction sale just a couple months shy of 30, but didn’t sell anything pro again till I was 31. https://t.co/vMhCAfOYaQ
— Alex GET RID OF THE NAZIS FFS Acks/Wells (@katsudonburi) November 14, 2017
I didn’t start working at OMNI till after I was 30 and was basically spinning my wheels with regard to career until then.
— Ellen Datlow (@EllenDatlow) November 15, 2017
*hand up* First fiction published at 47.
— Kelly Robson (@kellyoyo) November 14, 2017
I began a professional writing career at 38, published my first book at 48 and turning 50 was 100 times more awesome than turning 30. https://t.co/nHmxQm0jer
— I, HUFF (@SteveHuff) November 14, 2017
I got a GED at 30, got into Stanford and Reed, graduated at 36, and am now a journalist at MSNBC who only has to work *one* job to make ends meet.
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) November 14, 2017
Got my first book deal at age 37 and my second one at age 39. Still feel like I’m just getting started. https://t.co/cxvbzPR3mC
— Rebecca Phillips (@RebeccaWritesYA) November 14, 2017
I was 30 when my first published novel came out. 29 years later I am still publishing. I have not been a breakout bestseller or critical darling ever. I’m still here.
DO NOT GIVE UP. You don’t know when or how it may happen. — Kate Elliott (@KateElliottSFF) November 14, 2017
Military commission at 34. 1st novel at 38. TV show at 43.
Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. https://t.co/8NbQaHBxSy — Myke Cole (@MykeCole) November 14, 2017
I published my first book at 31. In many ways, I’m glad I didn’t publish in my 20s. First, my writing sucked (more) then. Second, I am emotionally better equipped to handle publishing now. https://t.co/Ip1LU5ek35
— S. Jae-Jones (JJ) (@sjaejones) November 14, 2017
Me? First book published at 34. Didn’t start getting pro short stories published until about 30. https://t.co/dkGnLY0Vmk
— Beth Cato (@BethCato) November 14, 2017
By 30, I had published one book. After that, in 25 years, I’ve published 50 novels, hit all the bestseller lists, & toured 14 countries.
— Rachel Caine (@rachelcaine) November 14, 2017
I was a freelance journalist and the author of several write-for-hire nonfiction children’s books, eeking out a small living doing that. My first novel, CRANK, was published when I was 49. Now have 13 NY Times bestselling YA novels and three novels for adults.
— Ellen Hopkins (@EllenHopkinsLit) November 14, 2017
Started my current job (and career) on my 33rd birthday. My first book came out when I was 43. I’m just getting started.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) November 14, 2017
At forty, I won a Hugo, visited Scandinavia for the first time, bought property all by myself (again, for the first time!) sold my first horror novel, and took up deer hunting and keeping chickens.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) November 14, 2017
First published at 32! https://t.co/Q3B4dAzjwZ
— Andrea Cremer (@andreacremer) November 14, 2017
And, finally, from the tweet that I read first (and inspired the title of this post, because YES).
Left school at 15. Qualified as a (medical) doctor and had first novel published after 40. Time doesn’t run out, it runs better.
— Joanna Cannon (@JoannaCannon) November 14, 2017
This is just a very partial list of authors and other creators who found success after 30. Hit Cassandra’s original tweet to see even more replies of people who did big, beautiful brave things not caring about age. Then, check out our list of eight writers over 80.