The Oral History Podcast 17: YA Sex Scenes

The Oral History PodcastIn this episode of The Oral History Podcast, we discuss issues of craft and the questions involved in YA sex scenes—whether you’re reading or writing them. Tell us what you think on Twitter @CarrieMesrobian and @ChristaDesir, or via email (feedback AT theoralhistorypodcast DOT com).

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Our Current Reads


The Careful Undressing of Love, by Corey Ann Haydu

Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, by Maia Szalavitz

Women In Clothes, by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavtis, and Leanne Shapton



The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Never Look An American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American, by Okey Ndibe

Rani Patel in Full Effect, by Sonia Patel



— Our TinyLetter serves as a companion piece for each episode and guess what: you can subscribe right here!

— We’re working on an episode about censorship and YA fiction, and how this has occurred at any point in the publication or distribution process, whether you are an author, editor, teacher or librarian. We can keep each submission anonymous if preferred.  We’d love to hear from you! Email us here.


“Let’s break it all down for you.”


Books and Other References

Thief of Shadows, by Elizabeth Hoyt

Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones

Plus Oneby Elizabeth Fama

Gracelingby Kristin Cashore

The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by J.R. Ward

My Year Zero, by Rachel Gold

Three Truths and A Lie, by Brent Hartinger

Underneath Everything, by Marcy Beller Paul

See No Color, by Shannon Gibney

Uses For Boys, by Erica Lorraine Scheidt (and why it contains one of Christa’s favorite sex scenes)

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (story by Joyce Carol Oates)

Lunarception (concept)

Smooth Talk (movie)

“Welcome to the New America: Straight-ish, heteroflexible, and pansexual”  (article on Fusion)

The Cheating Episode that Carrie’s “condom stalemate” anecdote referenced


Craft Talk Questions

— What is this character’s relationship with masturbation and their body?
— What has this character been taught about sex and desire?
— How does this character express affection?
— What does this character find attractive in general (attraction is not limited to physical beauty, but often a marker of what complements the character, what he or she is lacking and seeks in a partner for balance)?
— Is this character able to be open about their sexual identity with their families and community?
— How have others shown this character love and support?
— Are there certain ideal beauty standards in this character’s society? How does the character compare to these ideals?
— What kinds of words does this character use to describe any sort of sensory responses?


Some Good Poems About Sex

“What Saves Us” by Bruce Weigl from What Saves Us

“Groceries” by Cathy Smith Bowers, from Traveling in Time of Danger

“Everything We Do” by Peter Meinke, from Liquid Paper: New and Selected Poems

“Foreplay” by Tony Gloeggler, from One Wish Left

“The Widening” by Carol Moldaw from The Widening

“First Blowjob” by Meg Kearney, from Never Before: Poems About First Experiences, edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

“God and the G-Spot” by Ellen Bass, from Mules of Love

“Adolescence” by Sharon Olds, from Strike Sparks

“Poem to my First Lover” by Sharon Olds, from The Dead and The Living

“First Sex” by Sharon Olds, from The Gold Cell

“Last Gods” by Galway Kinnell, from When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone

“Life Story” by Tennessee Williams, from The Collected Poems of Tennessee Williams

You can also visit us at our main site to look at show notes for previous episodes.


Don’t look at us like that. Just tell us what you think! feedback AT theoralhistorypodcast DOT com













About the Author:

Christa Desir writes contemporary YA fiction. Her forthcoming novel, Other Broken Things, will be published in January 2016 by Simon Pulse. Visit her online at, and follow her on Twitter at @ChristaDesir. Carrie Mesrobian is the author of three YA novels, most recently Cut Both Ways (2015). Visit her online at, and find her on Twitter at @CarrieMesrobian.

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