Shannon Theresa Boodram is one of the most vibrant and warm people I’ve ever met. Former track-star, host and associate producer of a Rogers TV series, journalist, photographer, and now published author – she’s got the world and then some. I preface this posting with the skinny mini on what it’s about – Shannon Boo is the author of LAID: Young People’s Experiences with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture.
I spotted the stunning talent featured in an article for the Toronto Star when doing some digging for my day job. I’m marveled at how intensely transparent and open she is (like…a book you might comment?) Straight from reading up on her story, I knew I had to connect with her, as she was certain to be a driver of local and national culture (sex or no sex).
Racy as this might seem, the commonality in all of the content on urbanebloc.com is local talent, double takes, and engaging people. Miss Boodram is all of the above – check thrice.
- Tell me about you – Shannon Boodram, a 24 year old author.
- Where did the stories come from?
- How did you edit through all the stories?!
- How did you get your publishing break?
- You mention that you had sent the link to your parents – what was that like?
- Sex Author. It’s such a blunt title – how do you feel about it?
- What’s your take on the media and sex portrayal now – it’s pretty hotly contested.
- You’re rich in Toronto culture, how did you find the community to be with the release of your book?
- Your best friend Andrea is an actress (formerly Hazel on Degrassi: The Next Generation) and runs ThoseGirlsAreWild.com with you. How did you meet?
- How do you find dating now?
- What are you up to next?
I had the most negative start to my sexual experience – I was 16 and had set off from my first encounter onwards to become what I thought was a vixen lifestyle. I had personal mistakes that I was carrying with me, and it was only when I went away to a girls-heavy university in Baltimore that I had realized that I wasn’t a freak. That when people opened up to one another to talk about their experiences, they would learn honest, sexual education.
I left a track scholarship to come back and pursue journalism. I started a website to collect stories about sexual experiences, starting with sharing my own. Ultimately I started it for myself, I was still unclear about sexuality and learning how to be satisfied with it – I found that this was an especially powerful message to share with youth.
I recruited like no other – I joined social networks and searched out stories by messaging people that might be willing to share. Of course those messages were met with a flurry of “You creep! You weirdo!”, but it was what I had to do to get real people with real stories. That was one of the guidelines for submissions – they had to be written in the voice of talking to your best mate. None of that “The club was pulsating with a rich beat” or prose. Real recollections. Say what you would actually say and give people “the juice” I say.
I would wittle them down – from 50 to four to two to one. Each one had refining –though honestly I was a bit tired of reading so many sex stories. But I knew that each piece had to include the little details, descriptors to bring the reader to the real experience.
I also wanted to be inclusive of everything – there are five chapters ranging from hookups to abstinence. I think it’s incredible how willing to the contributors were to share their stories.
A lot of rejection. I remember visiting bookstores to see what other books were on the shelves and contacting the publishers of those books to see if they would be interested in something different like my collective. It took awhile…over two years and then I got an agent. The funny thing is that I still have a stock of rejection letters that I just sifted through the other day – a few years ago I actually received a no from my currently publisher. I guess the overall message was to just keep persisting, you never know.
My mom cried. My dad? He was surprisingly supportive (and later even helped to edit and revise the book). It took a little while for people to come around and understand the mission I was on. I think everyone started out unsupportive, but when they come around they really come around. My extended family is now sharing it with their friends and family. It’s a bit funny to be reintroducing myself as a sex author.
I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject, I’m not one to advise you medically or anything of that sort. But it’s definitely a product of me coming to terms and comfort with myself. It’s no an all-encompassing book – the idea is to create an open dialogue with interest, dedication, and research. I always say to “get yours” – which means to celebrate your sexuality. Make sure that whatever your decision is, that you’re wholly happy with it.
It’s interesting how they’re exposing things – new trends like sexting or whatever the kids are up to these days. I think the approach for the media is either panic or accusatory. It’s real – but what is it and why is it cool? It should be about the why and not the what.
So, so supportive. Toronto folk are very open and accepting. The media has taken to the story, and the book has been doing amazing within the city [it sold out everywhere except the Eaton Centre].
We actually met when we were kiddies – when we were just girl guides together. The site is all about being confident, career-focused, and about strong girls. We started the blog together as a challenge, but now we’re obsessed with updating. She’s out in L.A., and I’m working it from Toronto.
It’s tough to get out there after you’ve been hurt – it’s hard not to get caught up into signals that aren’t there or wondering all the time. The movie “He’s Just Not That into You” was pretty helpful. If you happen to find any boys that like me, send them my way!
I’m embarking on a book tour. Trying for 20-30 school tours to talk to youth about sexual education. I’m off to California.
And now for a special little message from Shannon herself to urbanebloc.com readers:
> Check out laidthebook.com, thosegirlsarewild.com, and macleans.com for more on Shannon.