Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sex and the Single Teenager

Recently, I had a conversation about how “far” can you go in a GBLTQ young adult romance. I’ve beta-read young adult, but I write about adults for adults—this is unchartered territory for me. Can you have open-mouthed kisses, touching with naming of acts and parts? What if both characters are under age eighteen (read: legal consent)?

It’s a bit grey out there folks, and I don’t mean Shades of.

Middle grade fiction is pretty cut and dried in this area. New Adult books (kids 18-25—out of the parent’s house and on their own) can test the limits, just like adults only books. It’s the 14-18 year-old group giving us fits. Here’s my take:

Since both characters need to be under eighteen, I'd prefer them both at least sixteen--fifteen is too close to childhood to me, and at that age, a year can make an enormous difference in maturity. In some states, you can marry at sixteen, and that seems to be more comfortable.

With regard to the sex—shouldn’t have anything explicit. To me, "explicit" means graphic descriptions of the acts and naming of parts. The bedroom door is nearly "closed."

Is it okay to have the characters nervously shed their clothes and retreat to the comfort of the bed, burning with an unfamiliar need? Can one of them say, "Have you ever...done anything with another guy?"

There are YA books out there that push the envelope right past New Adult into eighteen-and-over audiences. To me, these are adult books that happen to be about teenaged characters.

Where would you draw the line?
Once upon a misspent youth, Whitley read and wrote stories under the covers at night. At some point, real life intervened, bringing with it responsibilities and a career in the medical field. After years of technical writing, Whitley became enamored of romance and took on the challenge of giving it a try. Inventing characters and putting them through paces in interesting ways turned out to be addictive, and along the way, Whitley discovered that two heroes is twice as nice. A pot of coffee, quiet, and a storyline featuring a couple of guys makes for a perfect day. Stop by and feed your fix for heat between the sheets with erotica and M/M romance.