Lately, there’s been talk about a “new genre” that’s been emerging in the publishing industry. I put it in quotes because it’s not really a new genre, but rather a new age category to place things in. The UK reporters keep wanting to call it “steamies” but they just need to stop. Not only because I said so, but because Maureen Johnson and every other YA author said so. This “new genre” started in 2009 but hasn’t really taken off until now. That category is called New Adult, or lovingly abbreviated to NA.
There’s a lot of rumors going around. Some say that NA is the answer to 50 Shades of Grey for the YA industry. We’ve grown up since Twilight and those of us who have been enamored with Edward and Bella’s love story are now in college or just getting out of it. We’re young twenty-somethings trying to find a footing in the adult world and exploring and discovering not only where we stand in this new and exciting world of adulthood (while still relying on our parents for financial support) but also sexually. Where as one person can only go so far in the typical YA novel before you can’t call it YA anymore, NA is supposedly racier and steamier than its predecessor.
But here’s the thing: NA has always been around. There just hasn’t been anything to call it or any way for the publishing industry to market it effectively, until now. (I’m really starting to think that the publishing industry is just trying to bamboozle my generation of readers, but that rant might be for another blog post.) Before this attack of more sexier novels, twenty-somethings gravitated to whatever struck their fancy. I think it’s even safe to say that the previous generation of twenty-somethings enjoyed books more in the lines of Sex and the City, or chick lit. But with all this 50 Shades of Grey mania, even teens are curious about all the hub-bub. And because it’s sort of illegal to give minors porn and because there just isn’t enough sex in books for twenty-somethings, the publishing industry gave us new adult, because they’re such angels.
Some even say that NA is just mature YA (the material for the far older YA group) and I’ve seen books that were once YA turn into NA. Case in point: Just One Day by Gayle Forman. This was a book that was for the mature YA group, but has since been transformed into a NA! Don’t believe me? Check out how this book blogger labeled it under “genre.” And there’s even talk that this new category won’t survive simply because of lack of space for it in brick and mortar stores like Barnes and Noble.
Despite these speculations that NA will die just as quickly as it appeared in the industry, more and more agents are wanting to pick up more authors who write in that particular category and they’re even talking to current YA authors and trying to make them dip their toes into this thing. Whatever is going on, it’s sufficient to say that this area is going to be the new hot thing. What are the requirements for a NA?
According to NA Alley, New Adult is:
Typically, a novel is considered NA if it encompasses the transition between adolescence—a life stage often depicted in Young Adult (YA) fiction—and true adulthood.
Protagonists typically fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, though exceptions may apply. NA characters are often portrayed experiencing: college, living away from home for the first time, military deployment, apprenticeships, a first steady job, a first serious relationship, etc.
Other terms for NA include: Upper YA, Crossover Fiction, and Mature YA.
But wait! There’s more!
New adult touches on that space between adolescence and adulthood, so there is a wide range of themes and issues to tackle.
Common themes in NA are identity, sexuality, race, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, bullying, empowerment, familial struggles, loss of innocence, fear of failure, etc.
Combine those themes with common new adult issues: living away from home for the first time, military deployment, starting college, engagements and marriages, etc.
Slap a genre on there, and you’ve got yourself a new adult fiction novel!
So there you have it! That’s what makes up the typical New Adult novel. Interestingly, my main character in my trilogy of books, Kaia, is 19 in The Number and she does come to terms with some of the themes of NA, but as of yet, I’m reluctant to call it NA because the first book is very YA (some even label it as MG, but whatever). What do you think writers? Have you written a NA novel and just didn’t know it?
And unfortunately I don’t have any exciting recommendations because I haven’t read anything that’s considered NA. At least, I don’t think I have…