As someone who deals with the Young Adult/New Adult fiction market, one of the big things I tripped over early in writing Y’keta was the whole gamut of issues over sex and sexuality.
How explicit is too explicit? Can you have love in a story without going too far into the sexual details? This might not seem like a huge question, but I struggled with it. How could I say that I wouldn’t write explicit sexual content in my stories when, trust me, I’m not a person who shies away from the steamy side in my recreational reading? I have a folder on my kindle account that is passworded for a reason! But does this mean that I would, or should, write this type of fiction aimed at teenagers?
I know, from falling into and out of the adventures in my own life, that the things presented in your average love story aren’t real. No one in those books ever gets a leg cramp, has a problem with gas, or rolls over and traps your hair under them, and no one, ever, says no.
Perfect sex doesn’t exist, no matter how much the parties are in love, and rather than present an impossible ideal, I chose to use romance in my stories and keep the ‘fade to black’ once things got steamy.
I also wanted to be very careful how I dealt with sexuality, which has nothing to do with sex.
Right now, sexually diverse characters are slowly being incorporated into main-stream fiction in a lot of different ways from the popularity of m/m, f/f romance novels, to the inclusion of families with two moms or two dads.
I didn’t want to write Y’keta with an eye to this as a trend, rather to keep myself true to the world that these books are set in.
In many native cultures, issues of traditional sexuality didn’t exist until contact with western culture. Several of the Indigenous peoples of north America recognized same sex relationships, transgendered persons and two-spirit persons as an everyday thing. It wasn’t an issue because it was just a part of the ‘ways people were.’ This is how I wanted the relationships in my stories to be seen. Whether it’s the romance between Ren and Laban, or the refusal of Siann to accept her mother’s awkward attempts to encourage her to take a mate, I wanted the romance, and relationships in the story to happen organically, not just to be inserted as plot points.
The next book in the Sky Road Trilogy takes this one step forward with an old warrior finding a new love and learning that it’s never too late for happiness to come again.
Until then, See you on the Road