It’s Bailey here today. We're starting our weekly posts today, so you can look forward to getting a new post from us at least every Monday (occasionally we'll have surprises for you mid-week).
Today, I want to focus on writing New Adult and I want to focus on how you can maybe begin considering if you actually write NA fiction and if the category is the perfect fit your book(s) and characters and your readers.
During the first month, I read a lot of a comments on the blog to the effect of -- “I’ve never really heard of / considered New Adult, but it really does fit my book well! I’ve been trying to make my book more YA / Adult for the market -- I’ve been getting letters saying I need to age up or age down -- but this NA thing sounds pretty nifty!”
I get that. I remember the first time someone asked the question on Twitter, “Do you write New Adult fiction? Are your narrators between 18 & 29?”
And I said yes. To the second question.
That question & answer exchange on Twitter prompted all of this for me -- learning about New Adult and how this category was making its way onto the publishing stage; researching if New Adult really fit my book & my characters; joining this blog to promote the New Adult category with all its facets.
Today I want to say two things, and the first thing is this: I wasn’t immediately sure about New Adult. I wasn’t sure whether or not my book was actually New Adult or just a younger Adult narrator. And I think that’s OK. I think it’s perfectly OK to be curious but cautious. Especially as a writer.
I just write the stories I like to tell (like every writer I know). In the beginning, I knew my characters (18 - 24) were too old for YA and I was hoping they wouldn't be too young for Adult. I've read a small grouping of adult books/series with characters who are in their younger twenties, but their voices sounded older to me. Which isn’t inaccurate, exactly. I’m blessed to have a few younger friends, in their late teens & early twenties, that are “old souls”. But the two narrators I’ve focused on in the last three years -- one is 23, one is 19 -- they have life experiences and independence, sure, but they don’t quite know what to do with these two things.
And beyond that -- and really, I think it’s the beyond that that makes the stories worth telling in the first place -- both stories are about strong women in urban paranormal settings. These stories deal with death and suicide and abuse and mental illness and loss. These stories deal with family and love and lust and happiness. And above everything else, these two stories really deal with all kinds of fear. These stories are so much more than the age of their narrators, and yet, it seems like age is all anyone gets hung up on in the end.
The second thing I want to say is that the “New Adult” category -- while I think a very important category-- is rooted in the publishing sphere of the fiction world. To get a little philosophical on you, I’ve never much cared what age the narrator was so much as I’ve cared about the story being told & if the issues and conflicts are ones that I’m interested in being told. It’s why I like YA and Adult fiction -- both categories tells stories that deal with all the things I love to read. An actual book is about more than the age bracket we fit it between, but that doesn’t mean that an age bracket shouldn’t exist or doesn’t have a readership. The publishing sphere of writing is very important & very influential, and discussing and confronting these gaps should be equally important to us.
Since my initial, timid wade into NA, I have decided that New Adult is actually the right fit for me, and for my books, and for my characters, and maybe most importantly, for whatever future readers I may be lucky to have.
I do think writers should seriously consider the NA category for their books with younger adult narrators; and I think writers should seriously consider the other themes and motifs that fit well within the NA category when deciding if their book fits here -- because while age is a good place to begin classification, I think a category is about more than that (and that’s something that’s been touched on here and elsewhere and I’m sure will be discussed further but there isn’t time for it here & now in this post).
And regardless of whether or not you feel what you write or read is an NA story, we should all be here to promote the emersion and inclusion of a wide-range of narrators in an array of life-moments.