Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, authors of Never Evers (Chicken House) discuss writing about sex and love for teens.
Tom Ellen: I think we mainly write about sex and love for teens because we're trying to write funny books, and there's a lot of scope for comedy in both those areas...
Lucy Ivison: Well yes Tom, but actually no Tom. I mean, this is a classic time where I realise that you and me are different people. That is not why I write about sex and love. I am just into sex and love! I live for a good romance. And everyone is interested in what goes on with people in the bedroom. That’s just facts. Awkward, cringeworthy stuff is part of the journey…which I do love too.
TE: And the blatant lies that boys tell at that age... Pretending they've done all this stuff that they clearly haven't. That's quite a rich area for comedy. Just making up ridiculous, unbelievable nonsense for boys to brag about.
LI: Our new book, Never Evers, is about younger kids - in Year 9 - going on a school ski trip. So, it's more about the idea of first kisses, and that first time you get a buzz in your tummy when you spot someone across the room. When you are just getting your head around how crazy the feeling of fancying someone actually is.
TE: Being 13 or 14 years old is a very odd time in terms of 'romance'. I remember very clearly that was the age when girls had started growing, but boys still looked really young. My friends and I still looked like little kids, and we were thinking: "'Right, so we're supposed to go and chat up these girls who look about three years older than us." That was faintly terrifying. So there's a lot of funny stuff about that in the book.
Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison.
LI: I'm a school librarian and I definitely feel a lot of the time that the girls I work with are gobbling up romances, but that the romances they are actually experiencing are not even in the same universe as the ones they are reading about. Someone trying to snog your face off at a disco without even knowing your name doesn't seem to happen that much to gorgeous Americans in American YA. I think it's good to have some real British anti-romance out there too. There is room for it all. Obviously it's totally great to daydream but it's good to read about some people whose lives are actually maybe similar to yours too.
TE: For teen boys, too, I think it's really important to shine a bit of realism on sex and love. The idea that many of them get their first insight into sex through internet pornography is pretty worrying, so that's where YA can be so brilliant, in terms of showing the true, healthy side to sex - what it's really like, what's really expected of you.
LI: Yeah, I get freaked out sometimes by how many girls I work with have been exposed to porn. There need to be books out there that talk about pubic hair and periods and awkward sex. So that if it happens to you, or when it happens to you more like, you feel okay about it, because you know it's happened to someone else too.
Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison's Never Evers is out 7th January, published by Chicken House.