A wooden boat glides slowly across the River Hades. The mist envelopes the vessel and its inhabitants: a dozen teenagers in hoodies and skinny jeans, texting with one hand and dialing the iPod with the other. They’re about to cross over… to the other side of young adult.
Sounds like a real horror story, doesn’t? Actually, many new stories I’ve beta read seem to be heading over just like the kids above. The latest term for YA novels that cross over into the realm of adulthood… but not quite there… is “New Adult fiction.”
Now, I remember when I was a “new” adult, ready to buy beer but not quite legal enough to do it. I could stay out all night, but still had a curfew because I lived at home. College was the new and improved high school, where I could smoke on campus between classes (this was the early 90s, folks, when I smoked and so did everybody else). Not quite ready to settle down, but looking for a few good men to date, I was inquisitive and awestruck of the magical newness that was burgeoning adulthood. At the time, it would have been great to have a novel niche, such as New Adult fiction, to run to for parallel experiences in my life.
New Adult fiction, like its YA predecessor, serves to address the trials and tribulations of growing up. Except, New Adult goes a step further by looking at scenarios where we typically find ourselves in our late teens and early 20s (mind you, I write edgy so everything listed below is just that!).
- Bettina goes to college and gets her heart broken by her English professor.
- Tanya tries drugs and winds up in a bad situation over at Alpha Omega House.
- Sean feels alone in this new world, working and slaving away in his first real job… and wondering about the guy over in Accounting.
And so it goes. YA and New Adult are really not that different, except for the ages of the characters and their settings. My good writer buddy, Trisha, recently made countless revisions to bring her YA story up to the New Adult standard. The story flows with the essence of exploration, and where it was good as a YA tale, it now shines as a standout novel ready to take on the New Adult market.
There is no separate section at Barnes and Noble for New Adult, but this doesn’t mean the books will simply soak into the YA arena. The idea of New Adult fiction is green and has to prove itself in the intensely competitive YA world. And I have a feeling it will cross over just fine.