I’m too sexy for this book! Am I talking about myself again? Eh, I think I better confess it was a YALC panel event, and it was rip roaringly entertaining. So of course, I want to share it with you. The chair James Dawson started off the proceedings by donning a fetching crown, announcing his role as Queen of Teen! Well, he deserves the title as he now has his first YA book out, Hollow Pike, watch out, witches never sleep! A very fetching Queen he was too. I was sitting next to my teenage daughter, well she’s eighteen, and still a teenager, just, and I heard her giggling just as much as me throughout the proceedings. This panel event was an absolute MUST.
James Dawson introduced us to the panel of fellow authors, Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles who were more than happy to join in with a frank and illuminating discussion about sex and sexuality in YA. There was no skirting around the issue, sex reared its head and was allowed out to play.
Should writing sexy scenes be an issue in YA?
Why not write sexy scenes? Cat didn’t feel that writing sexy scenes should be an issue. Non said that she was a “horny and curious” fourteen year old. She wanted to read ‘horny and curious’ books. Beth was fifteen when she started writing Kissing Booth.The Kissing Booth was winner of the Most Popular Teen Fiction Watty Award, and was also shortlisted for the Young Adult Romance Novel of the Year in the 2014 RNAs. Non Pratt’s Trouble touches on a subject that all parent’s dread, teenage pregnancy. The overriding opinion of all the panellists: kids are exploring anyway so why not write what’s happening, rather than pretend that it isn’t happening. Well, this takes me back to my teenage self, I remember reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I don’t suppose I told my mother I was reading it but there you are. We’ve all been there, done it. Nothing has changed.
What’s the process of writing a love scene? How do you get in the mood?
I don’t go out and buy a flower. Maybe she should! This Passion flower is getting me in the mood! She watches romantic movies, and reads chick lit, and tries to write with her younger teenage self in mind. What would she have wanted to read at that age?
Likes sex to be graphic, realistic. In order to get in the mood, “she hammers it out!” Her words! She writes her favourite scenes first, drinking, fighting, and sex scenes! Hey, Non, don’t hold back!
She has a sexy time playlist, via twitter which includes Prince but stays clear of Rod Stewart. She likes to write revenge sex, check out her book, Undone, in Goodreads it is described as ‘A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal.’ Don’t get on the wrong side of Cat, she scratches!
Gatekeepers reaction to sex in YA books.
Fear creates taboos. Parents and children don’t like to think about each other having sex. This sounds fair comment to me! Non didn’t have to alter her sex scenes but she did have a problem with the bureaucracy that tends to accompany school visits. She found that form filling, and opposition on the grounds of parents not liking it or on religious grounds were evident in school visits. All of these can of course be a problem for writer’s of YA ‘sexy’ books.
Parents don’t like to see sex in YA books. They like to see good, worthy content. It’s crazy. Cat hasn’t had too much trouble with gatekeepers (agents, editors). She has never had to change her books, even though there is an oral sex scene in her book. Cats just get away with so much don’t they?
Is aware that some of her readership tends to be younger, say eleven years old, so she writes her books with that in mind. When Beth goes on Goodreads she find that parents sometimes have problems with content. Hey, stay away from Goodreads, they’re bound to tell you off!
The chair, James Dawson has so many enlightening things to say. He announces that kids are at the mercy of google and it is better to read a novel than to be subjected to much harder hitting sexual images on google. I absolutely agree.
With that in mind should there be age ratings on books? All the panellists said…………………………. you guessed it NO.
Has Fifty Shades of Grey paved the way?
Both Beth and Non were published after 50 Shades came out so did this make it easier for them?
Beth felt that Fifty Shades has lifted the taboo to a certain degree.
Fifty Shades was titilatting, and there were fourteen and fifteen year olds reading Fifty shades.
James Dawson steered the panellists onto the subject of Taboos.
Non’s taboos: Religion, alternative hole use! Her words! Prefers good vanilla variety sex, and recommended Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove. This sounds a great read. Thanks for the tip Non.
Religion. Depression. Wary of graphic sex due to the age of her readership.
Torture. Yes, I agree with her on that one.
What about New Adult?
Don’t believe in New Adult, think it is a marketing tool.
It’s a way of labelling books for gatekeepers.
Excited when she heard of the term New Adult, she thought it was about kids going to University. She would like to see books about that time in a young adult’s life. I agree.
In Cat’s opinion violence is more disturbing than sex. Sex is private. Violence is more visable, nobody complains about children killing each other in the Hunger Games. A very valid point.
The panellists were influenced by the following authors:
Laurie Halse Andersen’s Speak. Liz Bankes’s Undeniable
Sarah Dessen, John Green, Stephanie Perkins, Courtney Summers
My final thoughts on I’m too sexy for this book!.
This was the most entertaining and funny of all of the talks, and makes me wonder whether I should write sexy YA? Could be fun!
Well, that’s about it folks for sex in YA. I hope I haven’t misquoted anyone. If I have made any mistakes, or omitted anything many apologies.
Disclaimer: I couldn’t hear a damn thing so don’t blame me if I got it all wrong!