Today, as part of Treasured Tales for Young Adults‘ blogoversary celebration, author Brigid Kemmerer has stopped by with a guest post. Brigid is the author of Storm (Elemental #1), a novel that is hugely popular with bloggers over here in Australia.
Thank you so much for the guest post Brigid and welcome to Treasured Tales.
Profanity in YA
There’s this guy who comes into my office once a week to shine shoes. After hearing a story I was telling to one of the other ladies in the office, involving a man who said I was “full of crap,” the shoe shine man said to me, “Brigid, you remind me of a preacher’s daughter. I can’t imagine you ever saying a bad word. You’re just so sweet and innocent.”
My first thought: Boy, do I have him fooled.
I grew up riding horses, and there’s a saying that the only person who can curse like a drunken sailor is a woman who works with horses. There’s some truth to that. Hang out in a barn one afternoon, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
You know where else you’ll hear a lot of profanity? High school. It’s taboo, but generally safe. It’s daring, without actually being dangerous. It’s rebellious without being too rebellious.
There’s a lot of debate on whether profanity in YA is warranted. I’m going to ruin the suspense right here: my book has the F word. It’s about four brothers, three of which are teenagers. (The fourth is 23.) The brothers don’t always get along, and there are no parents in the picture. Sometimes an F-bomb is going to slip. I mean, come on.
One of the most common arguments I hear is that profanity in books is unnecessary, that it’s possible to write a story without that kind of language. That’s true: it is.
But my book deals with a lot of heavy issues. Bullying. Date rape. (It’s not an issue book, not at all. But those things are in there.) While I wouldn’t hesitate to take out the profanity, it seems silly to get rid of the F word when it goes hand in hand with the realism of the rest of the story. There’s not a teenager alive who hasn’t heard the F word, probably once a day at school. Even on television comedies, you’ll see actors use the F word, knowing it will be bleeped out, just for dramatic effect. (Just watch The Office, or Family Guy.) The bleep has effectively become the F word.
What do you think? When is profanity acceptable in YA? Does it turn you off when authors use too much? Are there authors you think could benefit from making their books a little edgier? (And don’t hesitate to discuss Storm in the comments if you’ve read it, whether positively or negatively. I know profanity is a big turnoff for some people, and I can take it.)
Have you read Storm? Which character is your favourite?
More information about Storm and Brigid Kemmerer:
Author bio (from Brigid’s website/blog) -
Brigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years.