The 17-year age gap between Hackett and Alice.
It’s not something that I personally have a fetish for, nor is it reflective of my real life. Ultimately, I guess I just have more of an open mind about those sorts of things.
I actually did make a reasonable effort to minimize the age gap between the two of them.
Putting Hackett anywhere in his 20s was just too corny and contrived. He needed time to finish college, gain real world experience, and climb that corporate ladder. After I researched what sort of background is typically required to become a warden, I decided that 38 was about the youngest I could get away with before it started sounding silly.
As for Alice …
IRL, I grew up in the sort of place where a solid number of my classmates got married right out of high school. Despite how it’s portrayed on TV, we really did grow up much faster than our big city counterparts, and by the time we turned 18 we knew how to be responsible adults (I, myself, started babysitting at 12, and was quite comfortable with basic childcare before I even entered high school).
It was massive culture shock to go to San Diego and discover that my 20-something peers were living on take-out and protein powder because they didn’t know how to read a recipe. What the heck?
The idea of Alice being over 30 and that ignorant was frankly embarrassing. I refuse to write about someone who spent an entire decade doing absolutely nothing, when I know what new adults are actually capable of if given the chance .
She also needed to be young enough that she was still in her enthusiastic/energetic phase of life. That meant below 25.
Throw in an exploitative ex-boyfriend taking advantage of youthful naivete, and 21 ended up being my final number for Alice.
So there you go with the behind-the-scenes thought process.