Monday, March 11, 2013

Just What is "New Adult" Anyway?

With the sudden popping up of New Adult books, seemingly everywhere, I am sure I'm not the only one with questions about it, so we have BR Kingsolver, a New Adult author, here today to discuss what New Adult really is. Please feel free to add your opinions.

New Adult Literature – What is it?
Guest Post by BR Kingsolver

Publishers and bookstores, just like libraries, are obsessive in categorizing books. They need to be in order to file things properly so that they, and their customers, can find things. Unfortunately, this has a downside. What do you do with something that doesn’t fit? 

Young Adult, or YA as it’s called in the industry, was invented when publishers discovered that kids in high school know how to read. Prior to that time, there were children’s books and adult books. With the publication of Harry Potter, many adults discovered the YA category. In addition, high school kids grow up, but continue to read.

For some reason, publishers haven’t figured that out.

One of the myths in publishing is that adults want to read about adults, and children want to read about children. Teenagers read YA because they relate to the characters. And since college-age people don’t read fiction, books with college-age characters won’t sell.

As a result, authors who write about characters between high school and their mid-twenties are told that there’s no market for their books.

In the same way, many authors have been led to believe that the category of New Adult, where the characters are of that between age, are being read by people of that between age. And so a debate rages within the New Adult community as to exactly what it is.

Is New Adult aimed at readers between 18 and 25, or is it stories with characters between 18 and 25?

I know that many authors and readers in that age group feel the books are aimed at them. But if they stop and think about it, they might have read Harry Potter, Twilight or the Hunger Games when they were much older than the characters in the books.

A couple of years ago, St. Martin’s Press put out a call for New Adult books and coined the term. Some incorrectly classify it as a genre, but it is actually a category. Within the category, books in many genres have hit the market. What do I mean by genre? Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Westerns, etc., are genres.

So what exactly is New Adult?

Some in the media have labeled New Adult as YA plus sex. But it is much more than that. After a character graduates high school, they are technically an adult. Faced with a new world of jobs, college or university, and adult romance, they have different motivations and challenges than they did as a teenager in high school. They are able to explore a wider world, travel, and experiment with sex. But that doesn’t automatically mean a story about someone who is 20 includes them having sex.

In another era, such stories were often called “coming of age” novels. Think about Pride and Prejudice, Catcher in the Rye, or Anna Karenina. I’ve often wondered if The Devil Wears Prada might be classified as New Adult.

As I said earlier, often people in that 18 to 25 age group feel such books are aimed at them and identify with the characters. They therefore fall into the same trap as the publishers, thinking that age group is the only market for the stories. But a much wider audience will read such books, both younger and older.

Many authors who have unwittingly written books with characters in this age range are surprised when they are rebuffed by publishers. The reasons are always the same. There’s no market. Agents and publishers suggest making the characters younger, getting rid of the sex. Or maybe make the characters older. Change the conflict. In other words, write a different book.

Self-publishing changed that. The growth of New Adult and the fact that some of the big six publishers are now soliciting NA manuscripts is directly attributable to sales of self-published novels, proving there really is a market.

In my own case, I was told that I should make my characters younger, get rid of the sex, and perhaps include some vampires. In other words, write a different book. Thankfully, what people read is no longer exclusively dictated by six large publishing companies. I just received a letter from a fan who raved about my new novel, Succubus Rising, the third book in the Telepathic Clans Saga. He’s read all three books and he definitely falls in the age range for New Adult novels. He’s 72.

The Succubus Gift
The Telepathic Clans, Book 1
by BR Kingsolver

The history of the Clans, called the Sidhe by the Irish, stretches back to antiquity. The Goddess blesses Her people with 25 Telepathic Gifts. In addition to Telepathy, the Gifts include command over Air and Fire, Telekinesis and Teleportation. In over 2,500 years, She has never bestowed more than 15 Gifts on a single person.

Brenna Morgan was orphaned at eight when her parents were killed in a plane crash. Through one foster home after another, she carried the ornate, carved wooden box her mother had left with her, keeping it always a secret. Then one night she stumbles over a man who claims her as family.

Brenna’s life isn’t the same after she discovers her unusual and mysterious heritage. In addition to being a telepath, Brenna learns she has the Succubus Gift.

That’s just the beginning of her problems. Someone is stalking her. Then there’s the tall, dangerous woman who shadows her and hints a Goddess has linked them. And what is she going to do with a handsome, charismatic, womanizing man she knows she should avoid?

Some days a girl just wants to pull the covers over her head and stay in bed -- with a willing young man of course.

Urban Fantasy with a dash of romance. The Succubus Gift is a completely different take on the succubus myth. Beautiful women and hot men in a world with a hidden telepathic subculture.

Find out more about The Telepathic Clans on Goodreads. 

About the author:
I write books combining Adult Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Science Fiction. I believe in fiction as an escape, with devastatingly beautiful women and incredibly sexy men.

In my books, you will find characters with psychic abilities, such as telekinesis and telepathy, and a completely different view of a succubus than you've ever encountered before.

I made silver and turquoise jewelry for almost a decade, ended up in nursing school, then took a master's in business. Along the way I worked in construction, as a newspaper editor, and somehow found a career working with computers.

I love the outdoors, especially the Rocky Mountains. I've skied since high school, with one broken leg and one torn ACL to show for it. I've hiked and camped all my life. I love to travel, though I haven't done enough of it. I've seen a lot of Russia and Mexico, not enough of England. Amsterdam is amazing, and the Romanian Alps are breathtaking. Lake Tahoe is a favorite, and someday I'd like to see Banff.

I have a very significant other, two cats and two Basset Hounds. I'm currently living in Baltimore, nine blocks from the harbor, but still own a home in New Mexico that I see too infrequently.

Find out more at and Twitter.
If you are a New Adult author and would like to submit a guest post about what New Adult really is, please feel free to email me.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting post. Personally, i think that the different categories are according to the characters' age, not the age of the readers it is supposedly addressed to.



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