Virginity. It’s an integral part of the Black Eyed Boy story. Emily turns sixteen during the pages of the book and she happens to have the super-hot boyfriend of her dreams. She is filled with lust for Dylan; each kiss makes her want more and more. But she’s scared, and weren’t we all? Losing your virginity is a massive moment in your life. You can’t take it back; when it’s gone, it’s gone. And then there’s all the worries of contraception and what it will actually feel like. It certainly took me back to my teenage years as I wrote about this theme. You don’t ever forget that initial experience. I’m still trying not to give too much away, in case you haven’t read the book yet. But it’s safe to say that virginity signifies and represents so much more for Emily and Dylan than it would for you or I.
I never expected my first novel to be aimed at a YA audience, but I can see myself writing a lot more for this age group as I enjoyed going back in time. I can recall all of the adolescent angst vividly, so it is easy to summon up emotions and memories. It can be a fine line though. I absolutely didn’t want to patronise potential young readers by sugar-coating storylines. Emily deals with some deep and weighty issues. I didn’t hold back on that score. But that’s life; reality, and there’s no point pretending otherwise. Young readers can handle far more than they are often given credit for, I feel. I wanted real characters; not cardboard cut-outs. If a character felt the need to say ‘fuck’, then that’s what they did. At the same time as trying to create something identifiable, I also felt an innate social responsibility to do the right thing. I didn’t want Emily throwing away her virginity without a second thought. I have daughters. One day, they will be the same age as Emily and I would want them to really consider their feelings and choose the right time.
Here is an excerpt from Black Eyed Boy:
I turned around to face him then, and I knew that the fact that I wanted him would be etched into my face. I didn’t wait for him to embrace me, I took the lead and put my arms around him and I kissed him as if this was my last chance to do so. I kissed him as if nothing else mattered, like I had seen so many times whilst watching a film. I remembered that I had always been dubious about those big romantic kissing scenes, and aghast if either of my parents were ever in the room. I didn’t imagine that kissing someone was like that.
But it was – and even better. If I could wake up in the morning and kiss him until the stars came out, I would. I was starting to become aware that my body wanted more, and that terrified me. I wanted to touch him and I wanted him to touch me, but inexperience, and fear of the unknown, kept my hands where they were – at least for now.
That’s when I pulled away, as I could feel that his body was craving the same. And I didn’t really know what to do about that.
“Wow,” he sighed.
“Sorry,” he said, glancing down at his jeans.
“Don’t be sorry.”
“You drive me crazy, Emily.”
“Good,” I said, kissing him on the cheek. I felt over the moon to think that he was finding it as difficult as I was.
We sat on the sand. The tide was coming in quite quickly, so I knew that we would have to move on, but it was lovely to just sit there and watch the sporadic boats riding over the waves.