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  • Guest Post: Young Love is Neither Patient Nor Kind by J.P. Barnaby

Love is patient; love is kind and is not jealous;
Love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly;
It does not seek its own, is not provoked, and does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails… but now faith, hope love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, 13

The Corinthians apparently never met teenagers in love.

Teenagers are impulsive, angry, jealous, self-centered and volatile. Put two of them together in a relationship and you get double the pleasure, double the fun. In real life, they are young, sweet, and sometimes lacking in the necessary life experience to sustain a substantive relationship. In fiction, however, we’re all about the happily ever after. Kids who fall in love at fifteen end up planning for their grandchildren. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but sometimes not. That said, do I believe teenagers can have a lasting fulfilling relationship? Yep. I have friends who fell in love in high school and stayed together—both gay and straight, but I also think that kids should shop around a little before they make a lasting commitment to one person.

Brian and Jamie as drawn by Shobana Appavu

While I am not a YA author and would not classify either the Little Boy Lost series or Aaron as young adult romantic fiction, they do have teenage characters. I also have other books—The Forbidden Room series and Mastering the Ride, which do not have teenage characters. The differences in these books are substantial, not just in their subject matter but in their approach to decision making, strategy, and long term relationship potential. For example, in A House of Cards, Master Ethan debates the transient nature of romantic relationships while in Little Boy Lost, Brian knows in his heart that he and Jamie will be together forever. Since Jamie is his very first relationship, he hasn’t experienced a breakup. He’s never reconnected with another person and moved on to a new relationship. These concepts are foreign to him. For these reasons, it isn’t possible to write a novel with generic adult characters and superimpose teenagers over them. Kids haven’t been jaded. They have hope and faith that older characters may be more hesitant with. They think they can take on the world and win.

They’re invincible.

Jake Bass, cover model for Aaron

In the Little Boy Lost series, Brian is faced with a choice. He can accept a full-ride scholarship to college or get on a bus and go after Jamie, who has been moved half-way across the country by his religious parents. He made a different choice than I, or most adults based on our experience, would have made. As an author, I had to be cognizant of the way a teenager would think, react, and the decisions they would make. If I gave him my own set of values, fears, or history, he would cease to be Brian.

Little Boy Lost: Enlightened, a story of two teenage boys fighting for their relationship in rural Alabama

Another thing I had to consider when writing romance involving teenagers was a lack of sexual experience. Generally, those experiencing young love for the first time haven’t had many opportunities to explore those intimacies with someone else. They are learning as they go, gaining confidence with each experience. Because of their ages, they are probably also having to sneak around their parents to have sex which adds a layer of stress to an already stressful situation.

Because boys will be boys (Jake Bass from Cockyboys)

Writing a boy’s first young love experience is uplifting and affirming. As I wrote, I wanted guys to read it knowing that they aren’t alone—that other guys feel the same way they’re feeling. No matter which way society is swinging on gay marriage, being in love with another boy doesn’t mean that they’re wrong or broken. It means they’re human and finding their own way.

Writing a boy’s first love made me remember finding my own identity and how fucking scary it was to not be like everyone else.  To me, real courage is being the person you’ve found, no matter what drummer you beat to. While writing Brian, Jamie, Aaron, Spencer, and even Mike, Alex, and Em—I had to be very aware of what kind of bravery that takes.

My boys are strong, and I love each and every one of them for it.

About J. P. Barnaby

As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.

 If you want to a chance to win a copy of Aaron or Enlightened, be sure to stop by and enter our Young Love Week giveaway running all week!