First off, just let me say how stinkin’ thrilled I am to get to post on NA Alley. I feel in no way cool enough to be here discussing sex in the genre of New Adult.
When I was at our latest military ball with my husband, I heard “congratulations on your book,” more than a few times. FULL MEASURES had been out six weeks, and I still didn’t quite know what to say besides a very red-faced, “thank you.” Well, until someone said, “Congrats? Oh yeah, you write those smutty books, right?”
Hold up the train, there, fella.
First off, let’s assume (yes, I know the trouble this can get me in) that by “smut,” he really meant, “erotica.” Even so, it’s a giant misconception that New Adult and Erotica are synonymous. They’re not. To clear up any confusion on the subject, in Romance, the plot drives the sex, while in Erotica, the sex drives the plot. See the difference? You can take the sex out of romance and it’s still a complete story, but if you take the sex out of erotica, the plot no longer makes sense – too much of the development occurs during the sex to be able to take it out.
Now that we’ve covered that… is New Adult Erotica? No. Is it erotic? Sure, it can be. Sex seems prevalent in New Adult, but given the age of the characters, isn’t that to be expected? In New Adult, characters explore their roles in the world around them, and for many, it involves their first sexual experiences. Perhaps for some not quite their first, but still, sex factors into the relationship. Here’s the difference with Erotica: the relationship is front and center here in NA. The sex may be the hot, steamy fudge brownie you devour for desert, but the relationship is the main course.
That being said, sex isn’t necessary to New Adult. There are plenty of ways to find your path in those years without having sex. But can a novel be commercial without the hot scenes? Absolutely. Snag a book by Cassie Mae, Colleen Hoover, or Rachel VanDyken, and you’ll see that gorgeous New Adult novels exist without the nookie. Some of them allude to the sex, and some don’t touch it with a ten-foot-pole. They don’t have to, because the plot isn’t based on sex, but on the nature and growth of the relationships between the characters. That is true New Adult.
But what about those uber-hot novels? Oh, you know them, the ones that have you checking to see if anyone is reading your Kindle over your shoulder. Yum… Are those truly New Adult, or are they slipping through the sheets to Erotica? There can be a fine line, I’ll agree to that, but if you take out all those turn-up-your fan scenes, and you’ve still got a perfectly-paced novel about navigating the doorway to adulthood? Then it’s not Erotica. The sex doesn’t make it erotica, the placement of the plot development does.
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Now what if you write an NA Erotica? Well, you go with your bad-self. Then you are looking at the classic elements of an NA, finding your place in the world, but you’re developing your characters and relationships not only through plot, but also sex. The world of NA is vast, and has more than enough room to include this genre, as well as Sci-Fi, Urban Fantasy, and anything else that can pop into an author’s head. New Adult isn’t synonymous with sex or romance.
Personally, New Adult doesn’t tie me down to sex, which I find a lot more freeing in my plot development. But that doesn’t mean I don’t write a little steamy scene in when the characters call for it. So sex, or no sex, it doesn’t define New Adult by its presence or lack thereof, because the genre is so much more than the physical intimacy that can occur.
As for me? I’m a New Adult author. Sure, I write sex into my plots because it fits. The characters naturally move toward it as another step in their relationship. But that doesn’t mean I write “smut.” And let’s not get into whether or not Erotica is “smut.” That’s just a whole other war to fight. So when the gentleman, who obviously doesn’t spend his time evaluating genres like I do, asked me the question, I smiled politely and said, “well, that really depends on your definition of ‘smut,’ but I write New Adult, which has sex, but isn’t about sex.”
Then I smiled, said thank-you for his congratulations, and spent the night dancing with my husband.
Thanks, Rebecca, for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by. Can't wait for the next book!!
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