Sariah Wilson on Youth and Sex Trends - How It's Affecting Literature
My books, including my upcoming release #Moonstruck, are categorized as sweet and wholesome romance. I may have some serious kissing going on, but often my younger characters (early twenties) are waiting to have sex. Which, believe it or not, is common among today’s younger generations, including the Millennials/Generation Y and Generation Z/iGen groups. And I write my characters to reflect those choices.
Several studies have been done and published in distinguished journals that point out how these generations are waiting to have sex, and not only for religious reasons. There’s a wide variety of reasons for why they wait, which include things like concerns over personal safety, living at home with their parents, increased online entertainment, personal values, focusing on attaining their goals, being career-oriented, a fear of becoming emotionally involved and losing control, conducting most of their relationships via technology, anxiety over consent, fear of rejection, witnessing their parents’ failed marriages, stress, being picky, and even an increase in antidepressant usage (which can have a side effect of destroying their libidos).
An article published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in August 2016 (Article Link) reports the number of Millennial women who were sexually abstinent as young adults has tripled since the 1960s, while the number of men has doubled. Millennials have fewer sexual partners than Generation X or Baby Boomers. Generation Z takes it a step further—in addition to delaying having sex, they are also rejecting cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol and are less likely to attend parties. (They find the 1980s and 1990s teen movies that revolve around getting drunk and hooking up bewildering). They’re far more likely to go on a hike or a bike ride than try to get a fake ID.
I like reading and writing romance novels that include romantic moments that make your heart flutter. That are about the characters’ growth and how they fall in love. In my stories I want that courtship, that feeling of getting to know someone, and falling for them. And believe it or not, even in this day and age, there are people who are waiting to have sex and somehow still manage to fall in love (shocker, I know!).
There are a lot of books being published that substitute physical intimacy for romance. Sometimes we don’t get to see the characters fall in love—they just jump in and out of bed together. There is obviously a market for this kind of story. But I find it a challenge to write a full-length romance novel that doesn’t include any kind of sexual consummation. How can I keep the readers’ interest? How do I show you that they’re falling in love if they’re not becoming physically intimate? How do I play up their chemistry without frustrating the reader?
In #Moonstruck international pop star Ryan de Luna falls for 21-year-old “hometown girl” Maisy Harrison, who is saving consummated sex for the marriage bed. He’s accustomed to women throwing themselves at him, so Maisy is a new experience for him. But he learns to respect Maisy’s values (her three protective brothers provide some funny moments during this process), and she finds there’s a lot more to Ryan than his gorgeous face, sexy dance moves, and electric personality. Learning who these characters are and what they’re made of is a journey the reader shares with them, page by page. There are definitely some sexy moments—lots of sexual tension—especially on the tour bus after Maisy and her brothers’ band, Yesterday, accept his invitation to be his opening act.
As my voice and characters skew younger, I try to keep in mind that Millennials and Generation Z are among my readership, and I want to write stories and characters that appeal to them, characters that make choices they or their friends are making. I want my characters and their relationships to feel real. And, from my sales, it appears that the traditional romance market, which is a bit older, also enjoys reading this kind of book.
Whatever your age, I hope you enjoy Maisy and Ryan’s love story—and the two songs I helped write to promote #Moonstruck.
Check out these YouTube videos of songs I wrote, with the help of the talented band from my Brigham Young University alma mater, TREN.
Click here to see the music video for "One More Night"
Click here to see the music video for "Maisy"
#Moonstruck - A #Lovestruck Novel, #2
Montlake Romance July 17, 2018 trade paperback, Kindle and audiobook
Over one million “likes”—but only one of them matters.
After pop star Ryan De Luna praises Maisy Harrison’s YouTube cover of his classic hit, he offers Maisy and her fledgling band the opportunity of a lifetime: to be his opening act.
Music may be Maisy’s life, but she has one ground rule: never date a musician. That goes double for a heartbreaker like Ryan. If only she didn’t feel so vulnerable to his larger-than-life charm. And maybe now more than ever, when he asks for her help to shake off his playboy image. How can she resist playing the part of his fake girlfriend for the duration of the tour?
Ryan’s never met anyone like Maisy. She sees past all the star-studded fame and treats him like any other guy. And the more time they spend together, the more he finds himself falling for her. Now he’d like to make their imaginary fling an IRL thing. But can he convince her to take a chance and trust him with her heart?
I had been so caught up in my conversation with Ryan de Luna that I had completely forgotten about my brothers. Now all three of them stood next to the diner booth, glaring at us.
“One question, dude,” Parker said, taking a step forward. “Are you asking us to be your opening act so you can bag our sister?”
“You did not just ask him that!” I gasped. It was like I had three living chastity belts.
Ryan looked . . . pissed. He cleared his throat. “I’m trying to find an opening act. If you’re not interested . . .” He stood up, and all three of them spoke at once.
“Hang on a second.”
“We were just worried.”
Ryan slowly sat back down, then turned his face toward me. “I think your sister is beautiful and talented and funny, but as I’ve repeatedly been told, she doesn’t date musicians. So I don’t think you need to worry.”
As if what he’d just said about me wasn’t enough, that flashing, fiery, intense gaze of his caused my stomach to do flips and my pulse to frantically throb, and I thought my brothers probably should worry.
Just a little.
Okay, a lot.
Fitz, Cole, and Parker climbed into the booth, and both Ryan and I had to scoot down to make room. Fitz told Ryan that we didn’t have the money or the ability to travel around.
“We have over fifty crew members traveling in seven tour buses, and eight semitrucks carrying full production. I have room on my bus. You guys can travel with me and my band.”
Ryan’s gaze flickered back to me, and ice solidified in my veins. I was going to be sleeping near him and traveling around with him and basically living with him?
Other people would be there, including the Dating Police trio, but still.
When Fitz brought up production costs, Ryan offered the use of his touring production crew. They would be able to take care of everything for us, including setup and takedown. “Brad is our production manager. I’ll get you his contact information. I’ll send you Piper’s information, too—she’s our tour manager and will tell you everything you need to know.”
“Is all the traveling done by bus?” Cole asked, and I felt bad for him. He was prone to vehicle motion sickness.
Ryan’s face turned pale, and his mouth became a thin line. “Yes. No planes.”
When I’d been obsessed with Ryan as a young teen, part of what had made him so romantic was his tragic life story. I’d watched a documentary about Ryan once or twice. (Okay, five times.) His mother, Sofia De Luna, was a girl from New Mexico who wanted to be a singer. She kept being told the same thing—because of her name and appearance, she should go into the Latin pop market. Problem was, she didn’t speak a word of Spanish (her own dad had died when she was young). But she quickly learned how to sing Spanish phonetically and became a huge success.
Ryan’s father had worked at one of the biggest American record labels, and he saw her perform at the Grammys. He asked if she’d be interested in crossing over, as so many Latino artists were doing at the time. He’d been excited to find out she spoke perfect English. He had her record a demo and convinced his label to sign her.
They fell in love, got married (at a wedding that ran into seven figures), and had Ryan.
A year later the marriage fell apart. His mother took Ryan on tour with her, hiring tutors when he got to be school-age. Sofia became a massive pop star in America as well, in part due to her relentless touring. Her first English album had four number-one hits.
When Ryan was seven years old, they were on their way to a concert in Puerto Rico when they ran into a terrible storm with hurricane-level winds, and the plane crashed.
Only three people survived, Ryan being one of them. They said Sofia wrapped Ryan in pillows and blankets and then protected him with her body.
I didn’t blame him for avoiding planes.
They all started discussing terms and contracts and agreements. My brothers grilled him like it was their last day on the police force and they didn’t care if they got in trouble for being overzealous because they were about to retire.
I finished my pie and then reached out to slowly slide his barely touched slice toward me. It seemed like a waste not to finish it. As I did so, Ryan shot me one of his patented Ryan De Luna winks that made my knees feel like they were made out of whipped cream.
There had to be a way to stop this. To stop reacting this way, to logically tell myself he was the kind of guy who had to kick girls out of his bed. He didn’t need to chase after someone who had repeatedly told him she wasn’t into him and it wouldn’t happen. Maybe he saw me as some kind of challenge, but he couldn’t really be interested.
If I could just remember that nothing physical would ever happen between Ryan and me, maybe I could control myself.
As I sat and listened to them talk, I felt more and more guilt over how I’d talked to Ryan the night we met. I had been horrible to him, and here he was doing something completely amazing and life-changing for us. He was going to make it so that we could keep taking care of our mom and keep our home. I felt like I didn’t deserve his kindness.
The conversation wound down, and Ryan said he had an early interview in the morning. Fitz got up to let Ryan slide out of the booth.
“It’s been . . . interesting meeting you all. I’ll see you bright and early Friday morning. The bus leaves at eight a.m. sharp, and Piper has no problem leaving anyone behind.”
He looked at me as if he wanted me to say something.
Instead, he got out his wallet and put another hundred-dollar bill on the table to pay for our pumpkin pies. As he headed for the door, I started pushing at Cole. “Move. I need to walk him out.”
Cole shook his head. “He’s a big boy. He doesn’t need you to walk him out.”
“I’m not going to get pregnant between here and the sidewalk. Don’t follow me,” I growled, standing up in the booth and walking across the table. Parker yelled something at me, but I tuned him out.
Ryan must have seen me coming after him because he was waiting outside.
As the diner door swung shut behind me, I suddenly felt shy and idiotic. “Um, hey.”
“Hi. So your brothers seem . . .”
“Overprotective? Completely insane? One banana shy of a bunch? Yeah. That’s them. They’re so annoying. Can’t live with them, can’t dispose of their bodies without drawing suspicion.”
He put his hands in his pockets. “It must be nice to feel loved like that.”
“I feel smothered. Or, more accurately, brothered.”
That got me a small smile, but he fell silent. Where he’d pretty much driven our conversation earlier, now he was waiting to hear whatever I had come out here to say.
Problem was, I had no idea what I should say.
“How did we get here?” I finally asked.
“Well, I drove my car, and I’m pretty sure you came in that thing that at some point was a van.”
As if it wasn’t bad enough that he was literally the most handsome man I’d ever met in real life, he had to be witty, too. It would have been so much easier to ignore him if he’d been dumb and not funny. “No, I mean how did we go from me being horrible to you and yelling insults and now I’m your opening act?”
He took a step toward me, and my body swayed in his direction. Like it wanted to ignore my head and do whatever stupid thing it wanted to.
“I think you and I remember that night differently. You weren’t horrible to me.”
“I was. I apologize.”
Another step toward me. “I’m the one who should say I’m sorry. I thought you were using Diego to get to me. It’s happened before. I shouldn’t have assumed you wanted me or that you were playing some game. You’ve made it pretty clear you’re not interested.”
My confused, raging hormones and I decided it was a very bad thing we’d made him think that.
Now he was so close that I feared slightly for his physical safety, seeing as how we were in full view of my siblings. My chest felt so tight, like all the air in my lungs had turned solid, and I could no longer breathe.
“When you confronted me, I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had ever spoken to me that way. I wasn’t upset. I thought, ‘Here’s a real person who is treating me like a real person.’ You made me feel like a human being again.”
Ryan reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear, and when his fingers brushed the top of my earlobe, I felt the molten lava of his touch everywhere—even in my ankles.
“You’re shivering again.” He whispered the words close to my mouth, and I wanted nothing more than to close my eyes and let him kiss me.
Which was dangerous. “Don’t,” I said, stepping back. “If I’m going to go on tour with you, no more talking about shivering or being beautiful or anything like that.” My voice shook, along with the rest of me. “We have to be professional colleagues. Nothing more. I—I have rules. Important rules. That are important.”
“Okay. If that’s what you want. We should shake on it.” He held out his right hand, but I knew what would happen if I touched him. Spontaneous combustion, most likely.
That made him smile like he knew something I didn’t, and whatever he knew was hilarious.
“Good night, Maisy.”
“Good night, Ryan.”
I had just opened the door to the diner when he spoke.
“Before you go, I did want to tell you that I enjoyed our first date.”
“What?” Was this some kind of reverse psychology? Act like we’d already dated so I’d go on a real date to prove we hadn’t?
“I asked you to come eat with me. You showed up. We ordered food. I paid for it. We talked and got to know each other better. Date.”
“That was not a date,” I responded, but realized he was kind of right. He had ninja-dated me, and I hadn’t even known it!
“You’ve already broken your rule. You should try breaking it again.” He turned off the alarm on his car, and it chirped in response.
“That’s a very bad idea.” A very, very bad idea. Although for the life of me, I couldn’t remember why.
He walked backward to his car, grinning at me. “Just because it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean we won’t have a good time. You’ve got my number. Call me if you need anything.” Then he got into his Prius and drove off.
Sariah Wilson has never jumped out of an airplane, never climbed Mt. Everest, and is not a former CIA operative. She has, however, been madly, passionately in love with her soulmate and is a fervent believer in happily ever afters—which is why she writes romance. She grew up in southern California, graduated from Brigham Young University with a semi-useless degree in history, and is the oldest of nine children. She currently lives with the aforementioned soulmate and their four children in Utah, along with three tiger barb fish, a cat named Tiger, and a recently departed hamster that is buried in the backyard (and has nothing at all to do with tigers).
Sariah's book ROYAL DATE was selected as one of the first winners in Amazon's Kindle Scout program and is Kindle Press's most successful author to date. She has sold five books to Montlake Romance, three to Kindle Press and helped launch Amazon Publishing's Kindle In Motion technology with her release, ROYAL DESIGN. She was given her own Kindle World for THE ROYALS OF MONTERRA. Sariah has repeatedly hit Amazon's overall Top 100 (both in and outside the U.S.) and been a #1 bestseller on Amazon category lists multiple times. Her books have been featured in USA TODAY and GLAMOUR UK.
“Wilson has mastered the art of creating a romance that manages to be both sexy and sweet, and her novel’s skillfully drawn characters, deliciously snarky sense of humor, and vividly evoked music-business settings add up to a supremely satisfying. John Charles, Booklist starred review
“Making excellent use of sassy banter, hilarious texts, and a breezy style, Wilson’s energetic story brims with sexual tension and takes readers on a musical road trip that will leave them smiling. Perfect as well for YA and new adult collections. Library Journal