When People Ask Writers the Wrong Question

11 Nov

Last week I wrote a blog about When Writers Ask the Wrong Question and found myself asked the wrong question as a follow-up.

I was asked: If you’re all for exploration in YA, why is your story so sweet?

First off, Yes. KISS is a sweet adult contemp. Second, Yes, all of my stories will be sweet. Third, what does that have to do with other people’s YA?

I’d start by saying that I’m not for free for alls in the YA world. There are things out there that are great books, but I wouldn’t hand to 90% of teens. But, for those 10% maybe their vital. I also wouldn’t hand sweet YAs to a lot of teens either. They’re just not interested or past that. Just because the audience that needs or wants a book is small, doesn’t mean that book shouldn’t be written. Sometimes, it means it should be written.

Teens (if you’ve bothered to talk to one lately) are individuals just like adults are individuals. They are not a Mass Group of Cyborgs. They have different tastes, needs and things they enjoy. And so, books for teens should be different, just like books for adults.

As for my books, I love Romance and Rom Coms and Chick Lit and Humourous Women’s Fiction and whatever else we’re calling these books at the moment. But, sometimes I max out on the sex! sex! sex! in some of them. Sometimes I want more than the how-fast-can-we-find-a-flat-surface I often feel bombarded with. Sometimes I just want the sweet part of falling in love.

And so the real question has nothing to do with what’s going on in YA. It has to do with what’s going on with me as a writer. I write sweet because I wish there was more of it. Because I think sweet is a great source of love. Because I don’t think sex is needed to fall in love. Because I think friendship and respect and laughter are great foundations for love.

Is hot sex to follow? Boy, I hope so. Do I need to write that to tell the stories I tell? Not really.

I’m a strong believer in “if it isn’t needed to move the story forward, then it isn’t needed” and that’s where my stories fall. That doesn’t mean my characters are dull or passionless. It just means you don’t get to spend time with them naked.

And seriously, naked strangers are typically just weird anyway, right?

~~Caitie~~

3 Responses to “When People Ask Writers the Wrong Question”

  1. melanie_unabridged November 12, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    I like the way Tamora Pierce handles sex in her Tortall books, it happens, it’s normal, it’s acceptable, and most importantly it’s 100% safe (yay for fantasy perfection). I took a cue from her and used those same ideas in my WIP. The sex I use is to show a difference in the relationships of my main characters but also because teenagers have sex so having couples in my WIP that don’t would be unrealistic.

    • Caitie Quinn November 12, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Those are two great examples. In Tortall the teens are adults. It’s a different scope of understanding around sex. Teens today definitely are having sex, so ignoring that factor is short/narrow-sighted.

      My one thing seems to be that some YA books make it look like ALL teens are having sex. Being really active in teen’s lives I know this just isn’t true. I also know from talking to several girsl (and even some boys) that the books and media make them feel like they SHOULD be having sex. That they’re literally the only ones and that there’s something wrong with them. It’s a hard narrow line to walk to find reality. If you don’t deal with sex it’s not realistic. If everyone is having sex, it’s not realistic. It’s a struggle.

      • melanie_unabridged November 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

        Yes, yes, and yes! I agree. I am in graduate school for teaching and spend every day in the classroom. I think teenagers need information and support in their decisions.

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