I had never heard of the New Adult genre until I landed my book deal, and my editor at St. Martin’s Press told me that’s what I wrote. I hadn't realized there was a category for my story, other than romantic suspense. All I knew, at the time, was that I was looking for a certain kind of story involving certain kinds of people. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to write it. That is how I landed in New Adult.
The more I investigated this emerging genre, the more worried I became. What do you mean its target demographic is 18 to 25-year-olds? Having celebrated more than a couple of anniversaries of my 29th birthday, I thought there was no way I could write stories that honestly related to people of this age. So, how did I do it?
I am an avid people watcher. I assume most writers are. I love to back my introvert self into a quiet corner and watch a room full of people. By observing body language and listening to conversations, it is easy to submerge yourself into a world you may not naturally be a part of. To do research for my novels, I just made my people-watching location age specific.
I needed to write about college-age characters, so I parked myself where college-age people hang out. I took notes on how they flirted, how they interacted with strangers, and listed any words or terms I was unfamiliar with. Later, I would go home and search the web for things like “totes ma goats” and “booty crickets.” (I’m still not sure about that second one.)
Another way to keep up with a younger generation is to spend a lot of time on social media. You couldn’t even comprehend the things I’ve learned on Twitter. Most days, I’m amazed by the amount of WTF that fits into 140 characters or less. Facebook not only keeps me updated on where they’re hanging out and what topics are trending, but also their reactions to the latest Kanye stunt or how they really feel about stuffed crust pizza.
Now, all of this may make me out to be a creepy old lady lurking around college campuses. But I’m not. I swear. I’ve always gravitated towards younger people. Maybe it’s a Peter Pan complex and my refusal to grow up. Maybe I’m just attracted to that youthful energy. I figure if you average my mental age and my physical age, I’d end up somewhere in my early twenties. So, don’t judge me, bro.