Thursday, 14 January 2016

Love, Sex and Violence in YA Fantasy Novels by Louise Herman : Guest Post


Happy holidays everyone, and I hope you are enjoying the break.


I have decided to take a week’s respite from writing the third book in my YA urban fantasy series, Split Blood, to catch up with author interview and guest post requests. I am looking forward to discussing my thoughts and opinions on love, sex and violence in YA books and how I have dealt with these themes in my own stories.


What is YA?


Many of my friends and family have asked me what YA books are, and with the new introduction of the New Adult genre, the YA audience has become even more specific.


My explanation used to be that YA books are aimed at young adults. However, today I would say that YA audiences are split into two categories with respect to storyline and levels of violence and profanity.


Personally, I would class a book that has no references to sex, violence or profanity in it as suitable for pre-teens (9-12 years), but a story like Split Blood: The Ancient Codex – Part One I would class as suitable for ‘teen’ readers, as it tackles issues that include sex, as well as challenging issues such as arranged marriages, torture and murder.


What themes and scenarios are appropriate for YA readers?


I have read many articles arguing that some readers feel that YA authors are pushing the limits of what they class as suitable storylines for YA audience, with some so far as suggesting that books should have a visible certification rating, like films, to warn readers that such story refer to these sensitive topics.


As an author, I personally do not have a problem with this because my books are aimed at the ‘teen’ end of the spectrum, and as a teacher from the UK, I know that students aged between 13 and 15 years are taught sexual education in their ‘Citizenship’ lessons, which are part of the UK curriculum. Therefore, I would rather portray a sexual situation that contains respect, mutual understanding and a loving relationship than a glorified situation in which a character is in a sexual situation that is filled with dark undertones.


When does it go too far?


I am not a big fan of books aimed at pre-teens or ‘teens’ in which the sexual situations have sadistic elements (such as using force) or murder scenes that show endless enjoyment being gained from preforming these acts, because although I know that some characters are dark and it would be a part of their personality to act in this way, I would personally prefer such stories to be listed under the NA genre, as a college student would have a better grasp of these topics due to their older age and greater experience (this is my opinion, but I know that there are many teens who can understand and not be affected by such storylines).


How far have I taken it in my own books and why?


I don’t think I have taken such themes too far in my books because, as I mentioned earlier, in the UK children receive lessons in sex education from the age of 13-15 in school, and teenage pregnancy is also studied in Citizenship lessons; therefore, this was a topic that I wanted to approach, and hopefully I managed to do this delicately.


Louise Herman Bio


Louise Herman is a North London Fantasy author obsessed with pear drops sweets and 80s Fantasy films.

In between reading James Herbert novels and drinking too much coffee, she writes Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels.

Louise Herman has currently written five YA Fantasy books to date (December 2015); The Orcus Games Prequel Trilogy and The Split Blood series, which take the reader on a journey of magic, mystery, obsession and forbidden love with seductively dark consequences.

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