Ever since Nevena and Alex Maurer first explained to me what the “New Adult” Genre was, I’ve been super curious to do a deep dive into this exciting new territory of the Genre Map. In some ways, it feels like the genre I have been waiting for my whole life, as a reader and as a writer. In fact, I am so enamored with this literary category that I decided on a whim that my NaNoWriMo project would be a New Adult novel and I am having a blast with it.
Alex was kind enough to share her analysis of New Adult with Book Country today: already this is a genre with its own tropes, quirks, triumphs, and guilty pleasures. As I’m crafting my New Adult novel, I’m very grateful to have Alex as my genre expert. ~LS
New Adult is a literary category occupying the middle ground between YA, contemporary romance and “chick lit” (the 90s most prominent women’s fiction subgenre). The storylines are adapted for the 18+ audience interested in characters that are in college or are newly minted grads heading into the world. New Adult shoots for the audience who’s graduated from YA and is not quite ready to read about divorce, re-marriages, or children.
Some paranormal and fantasy stories have college-aged heroes/heroines. But those books aren’t necessarily New Adult, because New Adult is similar to contemporary romance:the love story is the meat of the book. Because let’s face it. After YA, we as readers are looking for something steamier.
New Adult spans heroes and heroines that are between 18 and 25 years old. (If characters are in their mid-twenties, the book is pushing contemporary romance (i.e., Samantha Young’s ON DUBLIN STREET, Raine Miller’s The Blackstone Affair series, and Sylvain Reynard’s GABRIEL’S INFERNO). While all of these have young 23-24-year-old heroines, the heroes are older, and the story lends itself to more traditional contemporary romance tropes.
So what else differentiates New Adult from contemporary romance, chick lit, and YA? We look for the following themes!
The Reformed Man-Whore: The too-good-to-be-true hero who was essentially formed by the gods. Besides fantastic hair, piercing eyes, square jaw, high-cheekbones, and a smokin’ body, he most likely has a “little black book” the size of Webster’s dictionary. This reformed man-whore changes for the heroine and boom! the college big man on campus is now a sworn monogamist (for the most part!).