I'm not just an author of New Adult novels -- I read them too. I happen live a 12- to 15-hour time difference away from where most NA novels I read are set. (Metro Manila, Philippines.)

I like mentioning this to remind people, especially if their books are sold online, that their audience is the world, and I'm in a really crowded part of it. People in my country love to read. This is what a signing for YA authors Tahereh Mafi, Ransom Riggs, and Veronica Rossi looked like. There are comparable crowds for other foreign and Filipino authors.


The distance from Manila to wherever else the book is set doesn't completely disconnect me from a good story and compelling characters. The way I and so many other readers experienced "new adulthood" is different though. Just a few ways:

1. Living with parents. Is that independence yet?
Many Filipinos will live with their parents until they're married. Guys and girls. Especially if you live in Metro Manila and go to college within the area. As a consequence, family becomes so much a part of our NA years, in ways that are suffocating and comforting. (Sometimes both simultaneously.) Like in most places, this is when we start working and earning some financial independence -- but we're also expected to give some, or a lot, of it back to support the family.

This makes me relate to: stories about responsibility, family, what independence means when you're taking care of someone else. What happens when someone's personal journey necessarily includes other people?

2. Sex is a dirty word still, after all this time
Though it's becoming more common, the notion of an 18 to 25 year old having sex with people they're not married to, over here, is still "dirty." You will be a disappointment, you will be shamed, you must feel guilty and sorry for giving in to evil urges -- if you are ever caught. More so if you're a woman. I find this sad and hypocritical, but at the same time know that the guilt is real for so many. When a fellow Pinoy reader indulges in a "sexy NA" book part of me knows that it's a guilty pleasure of sorts, something her mother probably doesn't know she's doing -- which is so frustrating because this is precisely when talking about it responsibly matters so much.

This makes me appreciate: NA stories that have a healthy attitude toward sex. That show mature ways of dealing with the fallout of sexual relationships. Or just portray how it's a natural part of life.

3. Life may be confusing for me, but it's hell for someone else
So much about living in our part of the world is, well, tough. Many people live on a dollar a day, or less. Education is expensive, so many go without it. Jobs are hard to come by. Crime, distrust of government, natural disasters that'll take your house and every possession -- these are daily realities. It seems indulgent and selfish to brood about ME ME ME/first love/happily ever after, even when we've personally been through a lot, when so many other people need so much.

This makes me look for: Stories that aren't just about characters accepting themselves, but also realizing their place in the world, what they can do for others.


Writing a book that readers "can relate to" -- that's the dream for a lot of us authors. If you already write this way, this post is just to encourage you to keep at it. Somewhere in the world, someone will relate to your work.

That said, have you read this kind of NA lately? Have you written one yourself? Awesome. Please comment and share the link!

Mina V. Esguerra writes NA romance and chick lit. Her Chic Manila series is about young women finding love in that happy, crazy metro. 


Post a Comment

  1. I've heard that the Philippines contains a healthy romance reading market! It's interesting to find that sex is a dirty word there :) even for independent young men and women. What would you equate this to? I thought maybe because the Philippines is 86% Roman Catholic perhaps?

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    1. I'd say a history of conservative upbringing? Mostly Catholic, but other religions factor into the remaining percentages too. There's also a persisting "dalagang Filipina" (young Filipina) stereotype and it's essentially a quiet girl who does as she's told. It's more socially acceptable to pretend to be that, than question it. (Sigh.)

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  2. Just an awesome post, Mina! We so often forget the impact culture plays on what we write and read. The New Adult transition is universal, meaning everyone at some point will have to move from being a child to an adult. both socially and psychologically. But the experience is anything but.

    So, SO happy you and others are bringing NA lit to the Philippines. I think it's going to have a massive impact on a lot of people. :)

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    1. Thanks, EJ :) I'm glad we're all looking for more stories and points of view on this. There are popular titles already on local bookstore shelves, and soon the Filipino-authored stuff will be joining them. (Wondering how that'll affect the readers though, in a freaked out/excited kind of way.)

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  3. What excellent perspective Mina! Great post. :)

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  4. Great post, Mina. My NA historicals are very G-rated, mostly because young ladies wouldn't have done anything else back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Not that there is anything awful about sex, just that not everyone will have the steamy scenes you find in some NAs. But I also think there are young people who can relate to the more family-oriented way of life. Glad to see that is universal, or a least experienced in some places! (www.lynnlovegreen.com)

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    1. Lynn, I'll make sure to check out your books! I definitely know readers who'll find that more realistic at least based on their experience.

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  5. I LOVE this post, Mina! You knocked it out of the park.

    Side note: My friend Jennifer Hillier did a signing in the Philippines, and I was so jealous. Her photos were gorgeous! :D

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    1. Thank you, Carrie! I'm familiar with Jennifer Hillier's work! (And I know a cousin of hers haha!)

      The first batch of American NA authors to be invited to do signings here will be coming over next year. Excited to see the crowd that'll turn up for them!

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  6. Loved this Mina! What an important thing to remember. Our audience IS the world.

    The character in my series is still grappling with her virginity, and I think it's extremely important to have varying situations in books. Not all NA aged people will be having sex. It's a great time to be exploring that theme, but to say that age group is centered around it, is leaving out a big chunk of the population as you've mentioned.

    Thank you for a very thought provoking post!

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    1. Thank you, PK! I agree with you on varying situations. I'm so glad that we're populating the category with books that cover the different ways we deal with this. :)

      (I wrote another reply to this that got lost upon sending! Grr now I'm trying to remember what I said, thought it was brilliant at the time haha)

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  7. Wow, what a great post, Mina! Thanks so much for sharing. Sometimes we need slapped with reality that the world IS a very different place from the states. My series doesn't "show" sex, but my main character does end up in a normal, healthy relationship. But her faith, family, and up bringing, have a lot to with why she leads a more conservative way of life. So glad to know there's an audience in other countries who might appreciate it...lol.

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    1. Thank you! Showing or not showing sex is double-edged for readers over here I think...some people seek out the sex (because fantasy) and some probably don't want it (because they don't think it's realistic for them?). More books of all kinds would help! :)

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