I've got a new FREE e-read avaialble. But it comes with a caveat.
As a writer of young adult fiction, any sexual situations that have taken place in my books have been in the PG-13 range. That’s partly to maintain age appropriateness and partly because writing straight-up erotica has never been my thing. I’m not one to kiss and tell about my own sexual practices, let alone write entire scenes around those of my characters.
But then I was invited to contribute to the Real Story Safe Sex Project, a charity initiative launched by Brent Hartinger, the Lambda Award-winning author of Geography Club and many other books. Here’s a blurb about the project from Brent’s website:
The Real Story Safe Sex Project is a new way to encourage safe sex among gay and bi male teenagers and twentysomethings. HIV/AIDS is still a really serious disease, and gay and bi guys are at a very high (and rising) risk of catching it. But a lot of people don’t seem interested in talking about it anymore. So the Real Story Safe Sex Project takes a new, hopefully more entertaining approach: remind people about HIV and safe sex using entertainment and popular culture, especially projects involving your favorite fictional gay and bi characters.
So of course I accepted the offer. But here’s the thing: part of Brent’s vision was to not shy away from writing the sex behind these safe sex choices. Brent’s own piece took his Geography Club character, Russel Middlebrook, and successfully transferred him from what are generally breezy YA plots to a steamy, sex-fueled story.
It gave me a jumping off point. My book, Welcome to Straightville, deals with Devon Bennett’s budding romance with Alexander Pratt, who moves to town at the start of the novel. So I decided to use my Real Story Safe Sex submission – One Way In – to flesh out Alexander’s backstory and, hopefully, generate a little Straightville buzz in the process. The plot deals with Alexander’s life before moving to “Straightville” and his first couple days after doing so, ending right where the novel begins. The issue for me became deciding how graphic I was comfortable getting with the story’s sex scene, which depicts Alexander’s first time with another guy.
I decided to throw caution to the wind and write explicitly. When I got the draft to a presentable version, I shared it with Agent Steve, who gave pretty solid feedback. But he did ask me if I had concerns about something so explicit potentially hurting what is a YA novel since it is framed as a prequel of sorts.
And my answer was, “Yes, I do have those concerns.” But the more I pondered the situation, I decided to keep the sex in the story for a few reasons:
1. While the story sets up the novel, it does have a different motive, and that is to shed light on safe sex. So the explicit nature is in keeping with Brent’s vision, and I wanted to honor that.
2. Working on this project was an enjoyable learning experience for me. As I said, writing sex scenes was a little foreign to me and made for both a jarring and liberating process. It’s good to step beyond comfort zones, so writing One Way In allowed me to do that, and to flesh out (literally!) the journey of Alexander, one of my favorite creations.
3. Sex sells. So any buzz this story could help generate for the eventual release of Welcome to Straightville is all the better, right?
If reading gay sex stories is your thing, I’d love to hear your review of the story on Amazon – as long as it’s good of course!