I don't recall when I first mentioned that I had a story in my mind about a bike ride... I'm sure I did. Hmm... let me check - that's a coincidence, it was in November. November 2000, though. So it's been at least four years in the writing. But actually, when I mentioned it in the journal, I'd been thinking about it for a long while, and writing it, on and off.

It has come back to mind a few times over the last four years, and I finally have what I think is the story I first started out to write, although I threw it away and started over. I hope you like it. It's The End of Summer, and as I mentioned four years ago, it's more a mood piece than a story about a bike ride. I had the ending in mind before I had any idea what the story was about.

I think one reason I had trouble with it is I really do get hung up on writing about underage sex. Not that I haven't crossed the line fairly heavily in Camping Out - although I was self-conciously (it seems to me now, re-reading it) ambiguous at one key moment. There's no two ways about this story. The couple has two years of high school ahead of them, so they're 16-ish.

But it has to be that way, as you'll understand when you read it, and fiction is fiction.

My hang-up is this: I don't want any sixteen-year-old kids reading this and deciding that I'm telling them that having sex is a good idea. I'm neutral on the subject. I don't think that most 16-year-olds are mature enough to understand what sex does to them. (I know I wasn't.) But, on the other hand, my reasons for not promoting it are worlds away from the moralistic condemnation that our conservative society has for kids who don't see sex as any big deal.

I'll try to write condoms into a story if it doesn't hurt the narrative (in this particular story it helps, so they're in.) But it doesn't always work, and you're free to decide whether the participants did or didn't use condoms, or whether they were being very stupid in not doing so... but if my characters don't use condoms, I'm not promoting unprotected sex. I'm doing what I need to do to make a story work. If my characters are underage, I'm not promoting underage sex.

If a mystery writer writes about an assassin, does that mean he thinks we should use assassinations to solve our problems? I'd very much doubt it.

So if my characters can be 18+, they will be. If they can use condoms, there's a good chance they will. If they're related (e.g. Cousins) they'll be distantly-enough related that sex is legal (in most states, at least).

If the story works for them to be so.

If the story requires incest (hasn't happened yet), infidelity, underage or unprotected sex - then that will be what I write, and mustn't be taken as what I believe, or something I'm trying to promote.

I say this because I have had some feedback from readers that my writing helped convince them to leave their Significant Other, or to sleep with a casual friend. There have been threads on the BBS about how infidelity and the suggestion of incest in my stories have offended some. I wouldn't hold up "Grosse Pointe Blank" as a justification for killing, and I wouldn't want anyone else to hold up my stories as a justification for inappropriate sex.

So, please don't. If reading my stories makes you think that you need to dump your wife / husband and seek greener pastures for sex - take advice from a marriage counseller, not from me.

And if you think I'm promoting socially unacceptable sex, then you're wrong. I'm just writing a story.

Although... If you think I'm reacting against the increasingly dogmatic, restrictive agenda of today's social conservatives - well, maybe to that I'll plead guilty.