Shannon T. Boodram wrote her first book in Grade 4. It was about unicorns. Her first published book, however, is of a decidedly more adult nature.
Laid is a compilation of about 40 greatly detailed, sexually related stories from youths aged 19-25. It’s divided into five chapters: hookups, great experiences, experiences with a consequence, date rape or sexual abuse and abstinence. Boodram, a young journalist who lives in East York, started compiling the steamy tales when she was nineteen.
Now her publisher, Seal Press — headquartered in the U.S. but with a branch in Toronto — calls Boodram “her generation’s sex-ed expert, and Laid offers a candid portrait of what sex is like, the good and the bad, for today’s young people.”
The book is subtitled “Young People’s Experiences with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture,” and the idea behind it hits close to home for Boodram.
“I lost my virginity at 16 to someone I didn’t know,” she says. “After that it was just a slew of negative experiences. It was hard to know how to say no.”
Boodram blames her personality for her slip into promiscuity.
“When you couple strength and aggression with ignorance, you’re going to be plowing in the wrong direction,” she said.
Realizing that the attention she received through sex wasn’t positive, and that the power she thought she would gain through it never came, Boodram self-esteem suffered. While away at school in Baltimore, Boodram shared her experiences and heard many similar tales.
“I realized I’m not broken. There’s nothing wrong with me,” Boodram said.
Armed with this realization and bolstered by a positive relationship that taught her about her body, Boodram decided to turn her experiences — and those of others — into a book.
“I wanted to couple honesty and information that people could learn from,” she says.
Boodram learned a lot about sex and relationships through her research, and wanted to present the information in a way that would appeal to young people. She knew that as her 16-year-old self, she never would have rooted out the much-needed information on her own.
“The media has so many lies,” Boodram said. “But it also has compelling stories, celebrities, juice on people that you care about and follow. Facts are boring — they’re just numbers on paper.
“I wanted to create a bridge between these two things.”
Boodram has experienced success beyond Laid. Among other accomplishments, Boodram is a freelance photographer and hosts the show High School Rush for Rogers TV. She graduated from Centennial College last year after journalism classes at the East York campus on Carlaw Avenue — and has recently returned to East York to live.
Writing a book has been a long time dream for Boodram. With stories of unicorns and a book of sexy tales already under her belt, she says she would like to add more to her roster.
“I would love to write a book a year,” she said.