Exploring the New Adult genre
A Q&A with Angela James (Editorial Director, Carina Press) and Margo Lipschultz (Editor at Harlequin HQN)
What is New Adult and why is it so popular?
ML: I see New Adult as a genre that fills the gap between YA and contemporary romance. NA stories revolve around college- or just-post-college-age characters (18-25ish), characters that are experiencing some kind of monumental first—first love, first time away from home or first real job, first sense of adult responsibility. These stories are hugely relatable not just to the 18-25 crowd currently experiencing similar firsts, but to those of us who look back on that era of our lives with nostalgia, smiles, or regrets.
AJ: I think the popularity of new adult has a lot to do with the tone of the stories. There’s a certain unique element of emotional intensity, as well as a freedom of character that’s permitted in New Adult stories and gives readers an immersive rollercoaster experience while still providing a very emotionally satisfying resolution.
What isn’t New Adult?
AJ: New Adult isn’t sexed-up YA, an excuse for adult YA readers to feel okay about themselves or the modern version of chick lit. Those descriptions miss the boat on a genre that offers a lot more, as you can see from our answers!
If New Adult is aimed at adults, how is it distinct from contemporary romance?
ML: Aside from the ages of the main characters, I see a distinction in narrative voice between the two genres. Many of the NA books I’ve loved are written in the young, candid, often first-person narrative voice that to my mind is a hallmark of the YA genre, whereas contemporary romance often unfolds in third person. I’ve also noticed a trend in NA of alternating his-and-hers first person points of view.
AJ: One of the major differences I notice between NA and contemporary romance on the market now is the relationship issues being tackled. Yes, there are similar conflicts, but NA romances tend to be very focused in the here and now. Contemporary romances quite often have the main characters dealing with questions of babies or children, divorce and marriage. NA love stories rarely, if ever, mention any of these issues and concentrate on life and love in the now.
Who are some New Adult authors to watch for?
AJ: Our first NA release from Carina Press is RUSH ME by debut author Allison Parr, releasing in digital April 2013 and print in 2014. Being that Allison is living the “new adult” years, she certainly has the authentic experience and voice to bring Rachael and Ryan’s very turbulent but compelling relationship to life. What do you get when you cross a smart, prickly, goal-oriented woman with an NFL quarterback who can have any woman he wants—but who wants her? You get the excellent New Adult story of RUSH ME.
ML: I’m excited about Chelsea M. Cameron’s MY FAVORITE MISTAKE, the story of a college sophomore who has good reason to avoid relationships, until the brand new (maddeningly appealing) male roommate she can’t get rid of makes it his goal in life to tear down her emotional walls. Chelsea nails the voice, the campus setting, that feeling of inexorable love with someone who seems all wrong, the difficulty of letting go of the past. I hope NA fans will check out MY FAVORITE MISTAKE from Harlequin HQN in ebook now, or in print this coming September.
Are you excited about these upcoming releases?