GUEST POST by MIA KERICK:
Hello. I’m Mia Kerick, and I’m here with my first in a series of YA/NA “story ballads.” This one is called TORN.
According to Wikipedia…
New adult (NA) fiction, also rendered as new-adult fiction, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket. St. Martin’s Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult'”. New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices…
In its short life, NA fiction has had its ups and downs. Some writers/publishers don’t see it as a valid genre. Others find it to be a much-needed category. Lauren Sarner, in her article The Problem with New Adult books, states “New Adult is a label that is condescending to readers and authors alike. It implies that the books act as training wheels between Young Adult and Adult. For the New Adult books that are particularly childish, the label implies that they are a step above Young Adult—which is insulting to the Young Adult books that are far superior. For the New Adult books that are particularly sophisticated, the label implies that they are not worthy of being considered ‘adult.’ It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.”
I think NA is an important developing, and hopefully not disappearing, genre, as there are topics, which when dealt with in full detail, are not entirely appropriate for a YA audience. There is also a difference in attitude. Teens who have are sharing their first kiss, experiencing a parental divorce, or experimenting with alcohol for the first time, have a different voice than those who are going off to live on their own to discover who they are when high school ends. In particular, there is a lot more sex in NA books, and the details are more descriptive. But this is where the genre seems to have hit a wall, in my opinion. According to my study of the Amazon Hot New Releases and Best Sellers lists, New Adult has largely turned into a genre that is centered around stories of sexual escapades. (Check out the lists and you’ll see what I mean.)
So when I wrote a novel that truly deals with more mature YA subjects and the transition from high school to college—living as “adults” for the first time—deciding upon a category is challenging. If I go with YA, I run the risk of offering more descriptive fact and detail than 13-18-year-olds need. If I choose New Adult, reader expectations have largely shifted away from “older YA” as it was originally intended, to be stories of a primarily sexual nature.
I’ve put a great deal of consideration into the choice between YA and NA, when it comes to my novella, Torn. As the story begins, Vinny and Tommy are high school seniors. The plot takes them through their final year of high school and into college. And certainly, in the novel they confirm their sexualities and experience passionate moments with each other, but that is not the only thrust of the book. The primary theme is of separating from family—not just physically, but emotionally. The young men go out into the world and develop their adult identities. They deal with being truly alone for the first time, religious conflict, and parental expectations. They make choices that adults make—ones that cause huge disruption and long-term change in their lives.
In the end, I chose to categorize the book as a Mature YA Romance. I placed this in the blurb so those who are selecting a book will realize that it isn’t about a first kiss or fitting in at their high school. The topics are a somewhat more mature, though not out of the scope of YA lit. But my main reason for choosing YA is because of the voice. The two main characters, who are the narrators, possess a YA voice for a great portion of the book.
I hope you check out my Mature YA Story Ballad, Torn, meet Vinny and Tommy, and explore the challenges they face as they journey toward love.