by Joni Abilene
There’s something I’ve meant to speak about but haven’t because it’s an either/or kind of thing. Either you’re going to agree with me or you’re not, and I don’t have time to regret or fret over things I’ve written. Once it’s on the page, time to move on. But this is a pretty big topic so I guess it’s a good to say something and of course now that I’ve put all that down, it’s not such a big deal. It’s about what happens in The Starlights: a young man (age 16) has sex with a grown woman. Does it gross me out? Yes. Do I agree with it? No. Do I think I can ever write about normal stuff and not sex and drugs and all things depressing? No. That would be boring—boring for me and you. But anyway, why did I write it? Because in The Moonflowers, Keith was coming-of-age and he looked up to sexy Suzanne and she became a sort of idol/goddess to him. I felt it was only natural to have him develop a crush, but what shouldn’t have happened is she returns the favor. Suzanne was supposed to be adult—in every way. But she wasn’t. Not every adult is an adult. That was the message of the second book. I could have avoided it and had a hit and miss situation with the vapors of what might have been as the ultimate lesson, but I didn’t. Sorry.
While shopping the first book, someone told me an editor would eat it up if I had Keith and Suzanne together in a sexual relationship. At the time it was unfathomable—Keith was far too young and it just didn’t feel right. But in The Starlights he is a very mature sixteen and all about sex, sex, sex and practically drives himself into the situation. I remember a few guys in high school who were in serious relationships with older women and it seemed reasonable that Keith and desperate Suzanne would eventually ‘do it.’ The act would neither be damned nor glorified. It just would be. Afterwards, Keith doesn’t learn a lesson, only that he is sad. He trusted someone he shouldn’t have, and being betrayed hurts. If there was a moral to the story, it was that. Love hurts, no matter who you do it with, or how old you are, or they are, or anything else that comes up in the mix. Love hurts, and you learn in the chasm of grief.
Now I see it all over the news: older women seducing younger men. It’s gross and it makes me mad because it ain’t fiction, it’s real. And that’s my point. We should all know better. Fiction teaches us what we can’t accept and yet allow ourselves to actually do. But most of all, fiction is fiction and life is life. Fiction or reality. That’s the truth.