Sex in Young Adult Books

THE RISING-final coverI am currently writing my third and final novel for ‘The Painted Maidens Trilogy’. The first book ‘The Rising’ is available now on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, and iTunes. The second book ‘The Betrayed’ will be available this fall.

Without giving too much away, in the third book (tentatively named ‘The Taking’) the main character, Serena – who is 18 – makes the decision to share herself with her boyfriend. This is not within the confines of marriage because well, they are mermaids and they don’t get married.

I’ve done my fair share of research on sex in young adult books and am admittedly nervous to include it. I want to do it right. The best article I found so far is by ‘Writing Teen Novels‘. Advice in writing sex in young adult novels includes “how important it is to be honest, to be sober and to be in a committed respectful and loving relationship before you take the leap” and “girls should decide that they are in control of their bodies and of their decision-making”.

Another great article I found is by Amber Skye Forbes. Here the author says “Sexual experiences vary widely among teenagers, which is what is so great about YA literature. It encompasses experiences from a myriad of teenagers from all different walks of life” (like mermaids – LOL) and “sex between two teenagers doesn’t always have negative consequences”.

These are exactly the points that I want to portray in my book. My work up to the scene does include a lot of soul-searching for the main character as mermaid 2to why she is choosing to do this.

My next conundrum is how graphic should I get? I have to keep it PG-13 but I don’t want to completely gloss over the event.

One big benefit I have to this is my oldest son just turned 15 – and he reads this series. I can keep myself in check knowing he will be reading the book, but I can also include everything I want him to know about it wrapped into an entertaining fantasy story.

I would love to hear your advice on the subject – especially coming from avid readers, other YA authors, parents, and even teens. What lessons should I preach (without sounding too preachy, of course)? How graphic can I get? What were some of your favorite YA books that touched this subject?

The Rising

mermaid face
Digital art by Renu Sharma

There will be some very exciting posts to come out in the next few weeks; all centered around my next series.  I’ll have a cover reveal soon, and maybe even a book trailer.  For now, I’ll have to tease you with the title and blurb:

The Rising
Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy

             Sixteen-year-old Serena is the youngest member of a dying race. Increasing acidity in the ocean is destroying their environment, but there are other threats to her species. During the full moon, when the mermaids of the Undine Kingdom surface onto The Dry to breed, werewolves chase them off. The key to the survival of the Undine race lies with Serena, who has just been given the title of Werewolf Liaison. Serena believes it may be a punishment for her secret excursions to The Dry, but then the king himself brings her to trial for meddling, and  for risking the exposure of her entire species. The penalty, should she be found guilty, is death. If the changing environment or the pack of werewolves doesn’t kill her, her own king certainly will.

Sound enticing?  Add it to your Goodreads TBR pile now!

It seems not too long ago I was just beginning the writing process on this book (May 8 to be exact – I went through my old posts), and now the novel is becoming a reality.  The book is with my editor now.  Then it goes out to beta readers.  Barring any major setbacks, the tentative release date is September 19th, 2013.  If you missed previous posts, click here for the first chapter and here for world-building with mermaids.

Stay tuned for the cover reveal – you aren’t going to want to miss this one!