That’s what I write!
Well, till a few days ago, I wasn’t sure where my manuscripts fit in this wide publishing world … now I know.
Apparently, in 2009, St. Martins “created” the New Adult category because many adults were reading Young Adults books and they felt like those adults would like a more mature protagonist, but not as mature as the protagonists of the adult session (that’s what I read on the web, at least).
And that’s exactly my case.
My first serious manuscript featured a 20 yo protagonist. Where would I place her? She is not in the teens anymore, but she isn’t quite a fulfilled adult, with job, successful career, hubby and such.
So I tried writing my girls with 17 to 18 … it didn’t work. You know why? Because I just can’t sound like a teenager anymore. I just don’t know how. My writing and dialogue sound too mature for YA and I just couldn’t have my heroines stand there while popular, shallow bitches humiliated them in the school gym. Normally, my temper would rise with the scene and, as consequence, my heroine would end up punching the bitch in the face and step over her (which I did when I was 15 btw, but that’s another story). Besides, HS is too much drama over too little … I didn’t want to relive those days. My protagonists were way too mature for HS. And I like my heroes, the male side of my story, a little older than my heroines … so, even with a 17 yo heroine, my hero was about 23-26. Still out of the YA range, right? Yeah, I know.
I went back to the 20s.
Actually, my fourth manuscript features a 19 yo heroine. She will be 20 in the sequel.
My protagonist are all around 19-25–which is the range of the New Adult category.
MG is 9-12, YA is 12-18, sometimes 14-19, and adult is over that. Of course, this is not set in stone and readers’ age vary a lot. I, for example, graduated from HS almost 12 years ago and read a lot of YA and some MG. This numbers and categories names are just references for the readers, to make it easy to find a book that may interest them.
But isn’t 19-25 yo an adult?, you may ask, and I’ll answer: yes, in some sense. I think that the main difference, in a novel, is where the protagonist is in her life, the writing tone, the word choice, and the heat level. Normally, adult books have an almost formal writing (more than YA, at least), a high usage of the F-word, and pretty detailed sex scenes. I also don’t write like that. My protagonists don’t sound so formal, I don’t write too many dirty curses (you’ll find a lot of “damn” though) and my sex scenes are more sensual than detailed.
And, like I mentioned before, many adults were seeking YA books to read (one of the reasons why the YA market is so popular these days), so now these readers can find books where the main characters are in college instead of high school, who are more mature and away from home and don’t need to follow their parents rules.
I’m sure these category didn’t just popped out of nowhere and I’m sure authors have been writing about 19-25 heroines and heroes for a long time, but now these books can be categorized and separated from the YA shelves–at least on our minds, since bookstores don’t seem to carry a New Adult shelf … yet.
I know, many authors won’t like that distinction. Many want to be in the YA shelves since those shelves are getting a lot of attention lately, but I am pretty happy about it. I don’t want readers to tag my books as purely YA, because they are not. I don’t want to write YA. Not because I don’t like it. I do like it. I read YA a lot! But I can’t write YA. It’s not for the writer in me.
Now the writer here will go back to writing =)
Hi! I'm Juliana Haygert,
Author of New Adult fiction.
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