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Bridging the gap

13th May 2014 - Joanne Stapley

 

When publishers started catering for a perceived gap in the market betwen Young Adult and regular fiction, the press leapt to the salacious conclusion that it was all about writing sex scenes in fiction for teenagers. But as Joanne Stapley from our Charing Cross Road branch - and the creator of the YA and fantasy blog Once Upon a Bookcase - explains, they got neither the age group nor the subject matter quite right.

 

 

Readers of YA and romance might have heard of a new category being bandied around: New Adult. It's a term publishers - and book bloggers - use to describe a category of books set after high school, yet you won't find any such category in bookshops. New Adults titles will be scattered around various departments.

 

So what is New Adult?

 

The term was first coined by St Martin's Press in 2009 when they held a contest looking for a new type of novel - 'Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St Martin's Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult - a sort of an "older YA" or "new adult."'

 

IrresistibleThe first time I heard anything relating to New Adult, it was in reference to Liz Bankes' Irresistible from other book bloggers. The Independent discussed Bankes' novel and the new genre of 'steamies' - but there's no mention of New Adult. However, it mentions other authors and titles which are marketed as New Adult novels by their publishers - titles, like those by Abbi Glines, that are known for being sexually explicit. Hot Key Books published editions of The Vincent Boys and The Vincent Brothers with added sexual content, when the original self-published versions weren't quite so explicit. So it's easy to think that New Adult is sexy YA. But it's not. Irresistible and The Vincent Boys novels are both set during high school. New Adult is not, and sexual content isn't a requirement.

 

As Tammara Webber, New Adult author of Easy, its companion Breakable, and the Between the Lines series, said to me in a recent conversation, 'To me, NA is fiction concerning characters who are "new adults" - meaning they are technical adults (or darn close), but they aren't quite
established or experienced in being an adult yet. I consider it to be a category that bridges YA
and adult fiction.'

 

New Adult is not just about writing sexy novels for teens. You will find it in some, as I've said, but New Adult is more about bridging that gap Webber mentions. It takes place during university/college years, and the themes can be a little more grown up - fending for yourself without the support of your parents, making decisions that will affect your whole life, taking real responsibility, stepping into the world of work, and so on. It's a different coming of age; where in YA, teens discover the kind of person they are and want to be, in New Adult, those in their late teens/early twenties discover what being an adult really means.

 

EasyHowever, finding New Adult novels in a bookshop isn't as easy as finding the latest YA novel. There is no set section. Fancy reading something by Tammara Webber? In Foyles, you'll find her books in Young Adult. Perhaps something by Colleen Hoover? She's in Romance. Or maybe Jamie McGuire? Depending on the book, Romance or General Fiction. This can be due to the imprints publishing them, but is mostly due to the sexual content.

 

'At the moment, [New Adult] is dominated by romantic books,' said Webber. 'But I have hopes (as do others) that it will branch out to other fictional genres.'

 

Red Hill by Jamie McGuire is an apocalyptic novel that is classed as New Adult. And yet there are books that aren't marketed as New Adult, but fit the rough idea of what the category is. Dystopian novel Coda by Emma Trevayne is easily New Adult, as is paranormal Parasite Positive by Scott Westerfeld, and urban fantasy The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, as
well as romances by Gayle Forman and Daria Snadowsky, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

 

So next time you're not sure what to read, how about you try bridging the gap with one of these fantastic novels? It's a category I'm very quickly growing to love.

 

Comments

Joanne Stapley's midnight piece made me reflect on my reading as a male brought up in small town Scotland, a teen in the 1950s, by teacher parents, and father a Lay Reader of the Presbyterian church, and a Liberal party town councillor. I read Mickey Spillane under the bedclothes; my first erotica of the time was Suzy Wong, a hardback form the library (wow Revelation and I do not mean the book of the bible); later when i smoked Papier Mais and drank beer, Herman Hesse was on the elbow on Hampstead Heath England..........

GE 22/05/2014 - 22/05/2014
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