Today we welcome author Sarah Harian, whose New Adult debut, THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE, was released today by Penguin/Intermix Books!
Honestly, I don’t know if this assumption is true. I started writing New Adult five years ago when I knew nothing about categories or the way the publishing industry worked. I knew I wanted to write an urban fantasy story set in the point-of-view of an eighteen-year-old college kid. Unfortunately, there was no market for college-aged protagonists, so I started aging all of my characters down in order to fit the Young Adult mold.
To me, New Adult finally made a scene when readers started talking about Jamie McGuire’s book, Beautiful Disaster. It was a college romance making a splash, which hadn’t really happened before. I began hearing of a few more books that were New Adult and piquing reader’s interests, such as Easy by Tammara Webber and Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens. Suddenly, New Adult was a thing. It wasn’t anything I was really interested in (I’m a scifi/fantasy and super edgy contemporary lover at heart). But it was still a thing. And that’s what mattered.
I’m not going to talk about what New Adult isn’t, mostly because people are sick of hearing that New Adult isn’t sexed-up Young Adult conversation. I’m going to talk about what it is.
To me, New Adult is for us kids who grew up during the boom of YA. We read Harry Potter right when it was published. And we read Twilight in our late teens. We’ve become addicted to the style of YA, the immediacy of it.
YA did something amazing for literature. It made it accessible to all readers. We didn’t need an education to adore and understand literary fiction (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks) or a million pages of backstory or world building to establish a science fiction universe (Feed) or a fat fantasy to be, like, 1500-pages-fat (each of the Lumatere Chronicles sits around a humble 500). But the thing is, this kind of accessible fiction isn’t just for teen readers. Adult readers found a love for Young Adult as well. And we want more. We want the style of YA to translate over to adult situations. I feel like this is where NA can plant its flag into the ground.
But it’s difficult for those of us who write NA. New Adult has grown from the ground up, establishing its necessity through self-publishers who proved they were wanted. The original New Adult writers didn’t have to deal with agents or publishers telling them that their novels weren’t suited for the current market. They wrote, published, and saw if the market wanted their novels for themselves. But just because our success is linked directly to the readers who purchase our books doesn’t mean that NA doesn’t experience trends. In fact, we experience them at extreme levels. Currently, New Adult is withstanding a polar-vortex of contemporary romance.
Many people, including some publishing professionals, think that New Adult will never be anything more than books about college romance, but I think that’s a silly assumption. That would be like saying Young Adult is nothing more than paranormal romance with vampires or werewolves or angels. Yes, those books have merit, but that’s not all young adult is. The same goes for New Adult.
To be honest, I don’t know what New Adult is for the whole of society, and I don’t know how long it is going to last, but I’ll tell you what it is for me. I started reading Harry Potter when I was eleven and The Hunger Games when I was nineteen. I grew up parallel to the boom of young adult, and I crave the immediacy it brings. I will read YA until the day I die, but now, being in my twenties, I want something that represents fresh adulthood with the same immediacy as YA. I crave that.
New Adult can establish itself as the vessel between YA and adult fiction in all genres. It has that potential. I don’t know what the category is going to do—I can’t predict that. But I hope, for the sake of my reading wishes, that future books released in the New Adult category will be The Mortal Instruments and Shatter Me and Speak and A Fault in Our Stars geared for the newly minted adult, because we still need literature speaking directly to us, and we’re not ready to completely let go of YA—our first love—the books that drew us to read in the first place.
You can follow Sarah on Goodreads, Twitter or her blog.
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Bonus: here's Sarah's book trailer for THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE!