No sex please – we’re teenagers.
Writing for teens is like walking an eggshell laden tightrope. I write first and foremost for my readers; twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen year olds. However I always have to have an eye on the adults involved; the editors, the librarians, teachers, the parents of those who I write for. If they don’t think my books are good then the teens who I’m trying to reach will never get to know about them.
This is why the characters in my books are seventeen.
I’ve never written a book about the sex life of a teen. Memories of my own teenage years tell me that a book of that sort would be very short and scrappy and infused with embarrassment. Apart from that it would be dull. Where’s the suspense, the mystery, the intrigue?
The books that I write are primarily crime stories. The teenagers in them have lives apart from these crime plots and these lives involve friendships and family relationships and love. Sex finds its way into my books. I wouldn’t be portraying realistic characters if it didn’t. My teens struggle with sex just as I struggled with it as a teen.
Is it all right to have sex? Will my parents find out? What will it be like? How will I protect myself? Will he still love me afterwards? Will everyone think I’m easy? Will I get pregnant? Will he still love me afterwards? Will it be painful? Will it be messy?
Most of all will he still love me afterwards?My new book JUST JEALOUS has a girl who loves a boy. He loves someone else though. She longs for this boy and tries to break up his relationship. It ends badly.
Her name is Elly. She is hungry for him but she can’t have him. When I was writing it I planned to make her unavailable, keeping herself for him. But as I wrote it the character seemed to emerge as someone with a sexual appetite. If she can’t have him then she’ll have others and also – she’ll enjoy having them.
As I wrote it I wondered how this would sit with the adult readers. Will it offend them? I heard the sound of cracking eggshells. Would my sexually hungry teen book be tucked behind the librarian’s desk? Only for certain readers? Only for year nine upwards?
Or might it be reviewed on a USA website with a warning; Some touching on top of clothes (as was my book Looking for JJ )
In the end I had to go for what worked for the story. Elly is hungry for Carl. She fulfils that hunger with other lads. This is what the story is about, her hunger and the tragedy that comes out of it.