Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sex in Young Adult novels?

I'm currently writing a YA paranormal. In the process of researching the genre, I discovered that some of the more popular series are highly explicit sexually. Not adult fiction explicit, but for young adult readers, still pretty dang explicit. Those of you who know my work know that I write some erotic. So I'm not a complete prude. #:0) But, while I fully support a healthy sexual attitude in consenting adults, I'm having trouble with the idea of including a strong, sexual component in young adult fiction. For YA readers, Harry Potter is right up my alley, along with the Twilight series, where a healthy attraction didn't progress to more until the couple married.

My view has nothing to do with whether or not the kids who read these books are sexually active. I believe that kids should remain kids until they're old enough to make adult decisions. When adults present these options to them in books, movies, and popular culture in general, it serves as reinforcement of behavior that isn't necessarily healthy for them. I believe that young readers may take this presentation as approval and support for becoming sexually active.

A recent study found that more young people, up to age 24, are abstaining from sex today than abstained previously. Yet some of today's most popular YA series are embracing sexuality of all kinds. Is popular culture out of touch with this apparent change in mindset? Or are YA readers so invested in these sexually explicit series that a sweeter YA series doesn't have a chance?

I'm the mother of two beautiful young women. When they were small children through young adults I did my best to keep things age appropriate in their lives. Maybe that makes me old fashioned. Maybe it makes me a prude. Whatever it makes me, my girls are both healthy, happy, contributing adults, who look back on their childhoods with fondness. I'll take that over sexual enlightenment at age twelve any day!

So will my sweeter YA sell to young readers who've grown up on spicier fare? I have no idea. But I have to write what I believe in, especially when my work will touch young, impressionable minds. The rest will work itself out...one way or another.


T. Forehand said...

I agree with you. I cannot write the sexual scenes that I feel are too old for the YA audience. Bravo to you for standing by your values. Good luck with the book.
Terri Forehand

Sam Cheever said...

Thanks Terri! I'm hoping a good, fun story will be enough to draw an audience. And I'll be able to live with myself! Snorf!