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Friday, November 20, 2009

The New Adult Genre

St. Martin's Press is holding a contest for "New Adult" novels. And once again, I entered. Just like the other contests I entered, I don't expect to win, but it doesn't hurt to try.

As to what "New Adult" is, well, I'm quite excited to talk about that. It's a genre that's supposed to bridge the gap between young adult and adult novels.

In young adult novels, the main characters are usually between the ages of 14 and 18, they are most often are in high school or of high school age, and it's usually a coming of age story where the main character(s) deals with his or her place in the world.

And adult novels are typically about adults, or deal with adult themes. But the lines get a bit murky when you have adult books about teens or even younger protagonists just because of subject matter. I'd be a lot clearer on this, but I can't think of any examples at the moment.

There there are also "crossover" novels, where the novel was written for the young adult (ages 12+ or 14+, if it's "edgy") or middle grade (around ages 9 to 12) audience, but appeals to adults as well. Two popular crossover series are Harry Potter (which I'm pretty sure started as MG and later became YA) and the Twilight Saga (which is considered YA).

And then there are the novels for those characters who aren't in high school anymore, are looking to college, or maybe just graduated from college and are looking to start a career or whatever. These twenty-something characters are often too old for the young adult genre, but too young for the adult section. Or so I've read on various blogs and message boards.

But then there is some truth to this, since this is roughly the age range that I'm in. When I go to the bookstore or even to my local library, the books seem to be about characters in their thirties or in their teens. (Note that I don't read fiction younger than YA. I never really have, even when I was in that age range. But then, when I was younger, I didn't read all that much since I couldn't find stories about kids my age.) One notable exception being the Heather Wells mystery series by Meg Cabot.

I also remember not finding any college age books during my first summer after college. (Because, let's face it. I had just "escaped" high school, why would I want to read about a character who's still there? Though, my tastes and opinions have changed since then.) And, really, that was what prompted me to start writing semi-seriously in the first place. And I'm pretty sure that's what led me to take my first creative writing class in college, which led to my eventual minor in creative writing.

A few years back, Dorchester Publishing tried to do SHOMI, a line of "action romances" for the 18 - 25-year-old (or the possible "new adult" audience. I really enjoyed the two books I read from the line, and have a third sitting on my shelf patiently waiting for me to read it. Unfortunately, the line folded.

So I'm really interested to see if St. Martin's new adult genre catches on with readers and other publishers. I hope it does, not only because that's primarily what I write and would like to get published, but also because I think there's a lot of potential for characters and stories to be told that aren't seen in either the YA or adult genre (or at least not that I've seen).

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