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.