Normally, I never turn my blog over to guest posters, but it's a little different when that guest is Natashya Wilson, senior editor at Harlequin TEEN. I asked her to talk about some of the questions that librarians are frequently asked about YA romance and new series: What's the content like? What's the audience? What are the imprint's plans for the future? Here is her post. It's long, but worth reading.
Sex, Language and Harlequin TEEN
by Natashya Wilson, senior editor
by Natashya Wilson, senior editor
Harlequin has a new YA imprint, Harlequin TEEN! we announced. And people speculated---what would it be like? Sweet romances? Steamy, sexy teen reads? Would adults buy a YA with the Harlequin name on it for their teens? Would teens pick up something from Harlequin? We at Harlequin TEEN are betting yes, and I would like to tell you more about the type of content you’ll find in our books.
Harlequin TEEN is a single title imprint focused on delivering a variety of entertaining, commercial reads targeted at teen girls, ages 13-18. Because it is not a series in the sense of our traditional romance series, we do not have specific guidelines about sexual and language content, and those elements vary from book to book and author to author. However, we are not seeking shocking, graphic reads, and you’ll find the content of our titles very much in line with many other popular single-title YA releases in the market today.
The majority of our list is relatively “clean,” as in sex and swear-word free. However, we do have the occasional title that includes or mentions sex and/or might contain a few swear words. If a story does include sex, it must be a natural part of plot and character development, not gratuitous, and not described in graphic detail. “Bad” language may appear when using a euphemism or alternate word would sound unnatural or out of character. We don’t seek out books that include profanity or sex, but if it works in context, we won’t insist an author take it out, either. Our goal is to deliver authentic, satisfying stories about memorable characters and situations. Just like most other mainstream YA publishers.
So what are our books about? My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (August 2009) features a heroine who discovers she is a banshee. Intertwined by Gena Showalter (September 2009) features a teen hero with four souls trapped in his body. Elphame’s Choice by P. C. Cast (October 2009), a reprint of our 2004 Luna title, features a goddess-blessed heroine destined to leave her home and save a banished people. Elphame does include a sex scene, but it is a natural part of the plot and character progression and the book would be less without it.
Our 2010 lineup includes a girl who discovers she is half-faery, a police chief’s daughter on the trail of a mysterious graffiti artist, and a teen dating expert who gives her peers advice through her Web site. We’ve got a loner-turned-rebel-leader fighting for justice in a future world, more Soul Screamers banshees, a teen witch, the next Intertwined novel, and ghosts. And more! And sex and profanity are almost entirely absent.
The name Harlequin has become synonymous with romance, and we’re aware that many people (including many who have never read a Harlequin!) have preconceived ideas about what a “Harlequin” is. Unfortunately, those who aren’t familiar with our series tend to assume they are all about sex and titillation—I assure you, they are not. We’re proud of the power of our name, and decided to use it for Harlequin TEEN despite the potential challenge of getting past those preconceptions. We are certain our YA editorial will speak for itself, and will soon be as accepted as titles from any other publishing house in the general marketplace.
While all of our titles currently do include romances or romantic elements, all have a wider scope than a traditional relationship-driven plot. As with all books Harlequin publishes, it is important to Harlequin TEEN to publish books that will surprise and delight readers, stories that will resonate and be remembered after the covers are closed.So what about sex and language in YA novels? What do you think is acceptable, how do you gauge the appropriateness of a read for your purposes? How can we at Harlequin TEEN best inform you about the content of our books? We want to hear from you! And we hope to see you at the next stop on our blog tour, In Bed with Books on 8/19!