Damned social norms...
Question: In my novel, the main characters are 2 princes of an empire not entirely unlike Ancient Egypt and the Hittite Empire. I don't think I need to tell you too much on how these ancient cultures viewed human sexuality, but one Pharaoh is recorded to have had a harem of over 2000 concubines. Anyway, while one of these princes is a (relatively) safe 19 years old, his brother is only 13 at the outset of the story. There was a period in Ancient Egypt where one would already be a husband, if not a father, by this age, but today is just so uptight about this sort of thing. I don't want to downplay any of my fictional culture's elements (but I don't want to shove them in the reader's face either), and that includes the fact that this prince's character is sexually active. I just need some professional foresight on just how this could put my book on the executioner's block. Help! S.O.S. Thank you!Answer:
How would this put your book on the executioner's block? Meaning rejected?
Well, if you have a 13-year-old main character, there is a certain risk that it will look like it is geared towards the Young Adult market.
And a Young Adult book with a sexually active 13-year-old main character may not get bought by school boards or libraries in the southern U.S., or by/for teens who come from families where that sort of thing is frowned upon.
Now, if you wrote an adult book that happened to have a 13-year-old sexually active main character - that may be fine. (For example, Riddley Walker
.) The difference is that an adult book will deal with topics and themes that adults appreciate, whereas a YA book will deal with topics and themes of particular interest to people between 13 and 24.
It's a subtle difference, but important.