A couple of month’s ago ABC’s Nightline decided to explore the New Adult phenomena and instead of focusing on how these unknown authors rose to prominence through their own hard work and amazing writing, Nightline choose to go with the porn angle.
It’s hard to blame Nightline for its actions. After all, there are blog posts all over the internet that call New Adult books Smutty YA. And going for the sex angle is one way to hook viewers, both television and internet readers alike.
But to define New Adult by the amount of sex the characters have will mislead the reading public. Genre labels are helpful to the extent that they guide reader expectations. Readers who want that fulfilling happy ever after gravitate toward the romance aisles. Readers who want to read teens grappling with otherworldly elements can find their tastes met in the Teen Paranormal section.
Like the romance genre, New Adult has a range of sensuality from the low key in Tammara Webber and Colleen Hoover’s books to the explicit scenes found in books like S.C. Stephen’s Kiera and Kellan trilogy (beginning with Thoughtless). What defines New Adult is much like what defines Young Adult. It’s tone.
If you’ve ever heard agents or editors talk about Young Adult, they always say it isn’t about the age of the protagonists but the tone of the book. Jonathan Stephens for the ALAN Review wrote that “the label “Young Adult” refers to a story that tackles the difficult, and oftentimes adult, issues that arise during an adolescent’s journey toward identity, a journey told through a distinctly teen voice that holds the same potential for literary value as its “Grownup” peers.”
To refine that, I would argue that “New Adult” refers to a story that tackles adult issues that arise from a young person’s journey toward identity and responsibility, a journey told through a distinctly young adult voice. It’s tone not sensuality that defines the New Adult genre. That and the parties.
“Undeclared” was written because I fell in love with the genre. Fashioning a story about a young Marine pursuing his dreams and a young woman finding her own was a great journey for me. I hope you’ll take the last step with me and give Undeclared a try. The story is told from both characters’ points of view and interspersed throughout are letters between the characters. You can read the entire first chapter right here.