Student writer researches sex in teen novels

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Student writer researches sex in teen novels


Sara Hutchinson reading Judy Blume's Forever

4 September 2014

A Doctor of Creative Arts student at the University of the Sunshine Coast is writing a novel that aims to show how sexuality can be portrayed responsibly to teenage readers – without being too preachy.

Sara Hutchinson, 43, of Kandanga, is exploring how explicit sexuality can be written in a contemporary Young Adult (YA) novel without resorting to didacticism.

The degree involves Ms Hutchinson completing her first fiction book, ‘You Have a Choice’, inspired by her love of bestselling American author Judy Blume’s controversial 1975 novel ‘Forever’.

“Judy Blume believes that writing honestly about sexuality encourages readers to feel ‘normal’ and to be able to recognise and empathise with their own experience within the privacy of a book,” Ms Hutchinson said.

“I’m aiming my novel at 15-year-olds and when my three young children are that age, I hope fiction can be another resource for sexuality education – a springboard for conversations with parents and peers and Googling about these issues.”

Ms Hutchinson, who has won local awards for short stories and poetry, said her characters would deal with 21st century relationship issues such as the heavy use of mobile phones and computers.

“I didn’t grow up in the Internet era,” she said. “For literary realism, it’s important that I write about how teenagers communicate now. How much of themselves do they share on social media and what comes of that?”

Ms Hutchinson, whose study is supervised by Creative Writing Lecturer Dr Paul Williams and Associate Professor Gary Crew, said she was enjoying the process of writing a novel for her degree.

“It’s very challenging and exciting to improve my writing and academic skills,” she said. “The lecturers are supportive and I love the freedom to run my own time.”

— Julie Schomberg

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