Congratulations, dear reader! You have come to the end of the age categorization of this wonderful series of posts. It was a long, perilous road full of questions and confusion and lots of research, but we’re here! With everyone throwing categorizations left and right, some people have started to say that their book is an adult romance or an adult thriller. That doesn’t mean it’s something rated NC-17 (though one can’t entirely be too sure when people say that…) but rather fiction for adults. Back before the popularity of children’s fiction and YA people simply called this section “fiction.” Or “books.” Whatever you called it before, everyone knew you were mature enough to read books that were meant for the majority of readers.
The majority of books for adults have their characters aged 18+. However, you can still have a child as your main character for your adult fiction. It’s simply a matter of tone, your themes, and how graphic you’re going to get. Case in point: one of my favorite books is Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Great movie, too (though I’ve only seen the original Swedish version and can’t speak for the American remake). The novel is a brilliantly executed vampire novel that has a 12-year-old boy as the main character. It touches upon regular themes of middle-grade novels like bullying and dips into the young adult theme of first love, but it also takes an uncensored look at a boy coming into puberty. On top of all that, there are also some scenes that would be classified as too graphic and too sexual for children to be reading.
On the other end of the spectrum of adult fiction with children as main characters, you have Under-Heaven by Tim Greaton. This novel focuses on life after death and switches between an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old’s POV. Though I think Tim Greaton could have easily turned this into a middle-grade novel, by ensuring it to be read by adults made this novel great. He could go more in depth with the theme of life after death and sympathize even more with the main character when he delved into the death scene.
So if you can have characters of all ages in adult fiction, how do you know you’re writing it? It’s simple. Just ask yourself: Who do you want your book to be read by? If you can say you want your book to be read by adults but you want to use a character below the age of 18, that doesn’t mean you’re forced to write children’s fiction. There are no boundaries in adult fiction. You can explore as deep into your character’s psyche as you’d like. Want to write something dark and gritty? Go ahead! Just be sure to put it in the right genre. Remember: chick lit is vastly different from horror.
My favorite adult fiction:
- Frankenstein by Dean Koontz
- Bag of Bones by Stephen King
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
- Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
- House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
- The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- Water for the Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
Next week we begin to take a look at genres. Strap your seat belts on, because the world of genres is going to be a wild (and often overlapping) ride!