Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sex in YA: How Much is Too Much by Kara Leigh Miller, author of The Georgia Corbins

Title: The Georgia Corbins
Author: Kara Leigh Miller
Publisher and Imprint: Entranced Publishing, Blush
Genre: YA contemporary romance
Release Date: June 10 2013
Length: 265 pages

Ali Philips never thought anything could be more devastating than the day Levi and Tucker Corbin, her two best friends—her only friends—moved away. Three years passed without a single phone call, text message, or email from them and she’s resolved to the fact that she will probably never see them again. Until one morning when she comes face-to-face with Levi Corbin in physics class. 

Little does she know, the Corbins have returned to Haldeen with only one thing on their minds: winning Ali’s heart. Ali soon finds herself in the middle of a love triangle she doesn’t want any part of. As she tries to reclaim the friendships she’s lost and to adjust to the unfamiliar feelings she’s having, she struggles with making the one decision that will forever change their lives: Levi or Tucker Corbin? 

She’s always had a special bond with Tucker and feels most comfortable when she’s with him. But Levi brings her to life in a way she didn’t think was possible and makes her feel things she didn’t think she would ever feel. Torn between the two, Ali is certain of only one thing–by the time it’s over, she’ll lose one of her best friends.

About the Author:

Born and raised in the small town of Mexico, New York, Kara was an only child who was forced to find ways to entertain herself. Playing make believe with her Barbie dolls and stuffed animals was her first real taste of storytelling before she became old enough to develop a love affair with the written word. In early 2010, Kara picked up her very first erotic romance novel, and she was instantly hooked. She loves to write contemporary romance, erotica, and young adult romance. Currently she has several full-length novels in the works, a series of novellas, and a handful of short stories. Kara is an active member of the CNY Creative Writers CafĂ© and the CNY Romance Writers. Today, Kara resides in New Haven, New York with her husband, five kids, and three cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s thinking about reading and writing. And when she’s not doing that, she’s spending time with her family and friends.

Author Social Media Links:

Sex in YA: How much is too much?
Kara Leigh Miller

My genre of choice is usually erotic romance. I like the freedom that comes with it. There isn't too much censorship as readers of this genre expect a certain level of vulgar language and hot sex. However, my newest release, The Georgia Corbins, is a young adult romance. I had to adjust my entire mindset when writing this book. But, as I was writing, I kept asking myself, how much is too much?
Now, when I say sex, I don't necessarily mean intercourse, but sex in the very general sense of the word. Is showing a teen character masturbating okay? What about sexting? Sexual jokes about blow jobs? Girls talking about their first times? Rainbow parties? Unprotected sex? And if an author does venture into any of these things, how much do you show? Obviously you wouldn't go as far as you would in erotica, but just how far can you go before you cross that proverbial line?
Let's face it, today's teens know so much more about sex than we ever did at their age. Teens are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages. They have information at their fingertips that allows them to educate themselves. But, does that make it okay to put it in their books? Authors and teen readers might say yes, but parents and publishers might say no.
If you're hoping to have your young adult book published the traditional route; then the consensus in the industry seems to be no sex, or very, very limited sex, and then you're still not allowed to really show anything. Portraying sex between underage characters (which a majority of YA characters are) is a big no-no. It's heavily frowned upon by publishers, editors, agents, and even a lot of readers. However, if you're going the self-publishing route; then you clearly have a lot more freedom to do as you please. In fact, I've read self-published books that are labeled as YA that have a lot of sex in them.
So, I'll ask again: how much is too much? I'm not sure there is a clear cut answer to this question. I guess, as an author, you have to make that decision on your own or in conjunction with your editor, if that's the case. Personally, for the sake of believability, I think it's okay to have a little bit of sex in YA. For example, in The Georgia Corbins, I have one of my male characters thinking about having sex with the heroine, and there is a joke about a flaccid penis. Did I cross the line? I'm sure some will think I did. I think it's okay because it fits the story and the characters and it's not just sex for the sake of sex.
What do you think? Is there a line for sex in YA? If so, what is it? Are there certain things you absolutely think should not be in YA? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. I've heard that when ppl have characters aged 18 to 22 and there's sex in the book then it's called NA. But NA doesn't necessarily have to include sex. Is NA the new chick lit?

    1. That's what I think too. NA is college age with sex.

  2. Adding sex to YA aged characters does not make it NA. That's a common misconception. NA or New Adult are stories that focus on that transitional point in a young person's life and the challenges that come with that -- going to college, moving out of their parent's house and living alone for the first time, getting their first job, joining the Armed Forces, etc. Sure, NA can and often does contain sex, but just as often, it doesn't. To me, NA is simply coming of age stories.

  3. As a parent, an avid reader, and one who enjoys erotica I have to say I'd like to see YA keep some sort of innocence. Not to say they are prude or have no sexual knowledge because that would just be naive. I like the idea of YA flirting with sex, having the immaturity to joke with sex, and in some cases crossing the line to having sex...and what are the consequences both good or bad. I think that hardcore erotica should not be in a YA book but I see nothing wrong with the author showing it to a degree. I have not really answered where the proverbial line is drawn but I'm totally okay with approaching that line.

  4. Someone else was blogging about this recently. It's really difficult because you obviously don't want a how-to guide (lol) but let's face it, if characters are real people 16-18 year olds have sex. Mostly, usually, often. But tons of YA is really read by 6th graders (or 26 year olds), so it's not easy to define the audience which is difficult. On the other side, if the intended age group is, say 14-17, we're not helping them by keeping sex and intimacy taboo. Characters are going from hand holding to having babies. That's crazy. For teens sex shouldn't be shown as a shameful activity (my opinion as someone with no kids, someone who saw many young girls labelled "sluts" what is a "slut" exactly?).