So What's the Deal With New Adult Fiction? (Interview with Harper Collins)

There has been a ton of talk since Christmas about New Adult fiction.  I keep seeing the term pop up on blog tour announcements, in Publisher's Weekly and other blogs.  I had the opportunity to ask a representative from Harper Collins (Amanda Bergeron) a few questions about the New Adult Genre:

What makes a book "New Adult"?
New Adult generally means books about characters in their late teens early 20s that tap into the drama and intensity of emotion that comes along with that time of life.  All the rules go out the window, which makes it an irresistible genre to read and work with.

Why was the NA genre created?
I’m not sure that it was created so much as it was identified. Over the last year, particularly online, we’ve seen readers gravitating toward books with younger, but not adolescent, characters in dramatic and romantic storylines. These authors are writing the stories they want to read and--if the astounding numbers are any indication—that readers want to read too.

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I have noticed in a few places, when reading about NA, that it is called YA for a more mature audience (meaning having more mature sexual scenes) - is this the standard in New Adult literature?

The best thing about New Adult is that nothing is standard--the rules are thrown out the door, which is a lot of fun. The line between YA and adult fiction has blurred in the last several years. YA books are much darker and more mature than ever, but they do draw the line at really explicit sex.  So yes, New Adult has that element in a way YA doesn’t, but it also comes at life from a different angle. It’s about college, real world problems, and characters who still have a lot to figure out. Romance and sexual identity are a big part of early 20s, so it makes sense that these themes are rather prevalent. 

I understand that this genre is young and only forming, but I thinking about all the readers, like myself, who moved from Adult literature to Young Adult because we prefer reading "clean" stories, that is stories that are engaging and entertaining without sex or graphic violence- are there any books in the New Adult Genre that reflect that or will there be?


Many adult women read YA because it captures a time in life--that we can all remember and relate to—when everything is heightened: love has never been so dire, heartbreak never so raw, and independence is within reach.  This natural drama comes into play in New Adult as well, but instead of a character coming of age, now, as very smart author Cora Carmack has said “New Adult is the ‘I’m officially an adult, now what?’ phase”. And that can mean a whole lot of different things.
As you say, this is still an emerging genre. Right now readers seem to be clamoring for sexier material, but I think they also relate to the overall experience. For example, Cora Carmack’s bestselling LOSING IT is all about a 23-year-old in her last semester of college who is a virgin and ready to change that fact. It has some sexy scenes, but, ultimately, it’s a love story and a story about a college student about to take that leap from dorm life into the real world. 

From what I have viewed on lists for New Adult books on sites like the Huffington Post and Goodreads- the majority of NA books are contemporary romance.  Will there be a variety of books in the NA genre from Harper in the next year or two?
In fact, we have two great examples of the variety of our list coming out in paperback this spring. In March, Abigail Gibbs’ paranormal debut THE DARK HEROINE hits stores, and in June, THE REGISTRY, the first book in a fantastic dystopian series comes out from brand new author Shannon Stoker.  I have the pleasure of working directly with Shannon Stoker, and I’ve got to say I’ve been utterly blown away by her creativity throughout the editorial process. I can’t wait for readers to have a chance to jump into this series.

Are there any upcoming authors you would like to share with my readers?

Absolutely! Cora Carmack, Molly McAdams, Abigail Gibbs, Shannon Stoker, and Sophie Jordan (who currently publishes YA and Historical Romance) are all authors to watch. Here’s a rundown of the upcoming publication dates for our New Adult authors.  Each has her own voice and style, so there is something for everyone here!
LOSING IT by Cora Carmack (eBook available now; paperback on sale 2/26)
THE DARK HEROINE by Abigail Gibbs (eBook available now; paperback on sale 3/5)
TAKING CHANCES by Molly McAdams (eBook available now; paperback on sale 4/16)
FROM ASHES by Molly McAdams (eBook available now; paperback on sale 4/16)
FAKING IT by Cora Carmack (on sale 6/4)
THE REGISTRY by Shannon Stocker (on sale 6/11)
FOREPLAY by Sophie Jordan (coming in October 2013)



Thank you Amanda! 



So what do you think?  I personally am still not sold on the New Adult trend.  I read YA because of the inventive stories, but also because of the lack of explicit sex and violence.  (It is a personal preference).  I am glad to see that there are a few non-contemporary books coming out in the NA genre.  I was a little worried that it was going to be all contemporary fiction.

Want to read more about the New Adult genre?  Want to see what other bloggers think? Bookalicious has a short post on her opinion of New Adult and Lulu Blog has an interesting article on it. Savidge reads has an interesting post about "What is the point of NA" and here is another one on Publishing Crawl. Here is a post on Breathing Fiction and post and great comment discussion on Parajunkee.


Want more New Adult books?  Check out the New Adult Alley and this Goodreads list.



So what do YOU think?  Is NA just a passing genre or does it have staying power? Do you read New Adult books?





8 comments:

  1. I'm interested in the beginnings of the New Adult genre (although I wish we could call it like, New-A or something other than NA, which makes me feel like my characters should be going to meetings to deal with their heroin addictions lol).

    For me, I often find myself writing freshman or sophomore college students as my protagonists. I feel like they get to have a lot of the same reactions/experiences as, say, the high school senior student, but it often feels more organic and plausible within the college setting. One of my biggest issues with YA (and particularly YA love stories) is the whole 'where the heck are their parents during all this?' thing (the Maggie Stiefvater Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy really comes to mind in this one, where the boy essentially moves into her house for a few months, unnoticed by the parents for ages). Having a 19 or 20 year old character who's on her own at college for the first time solves those implausibilities while allowing her to still react very much as a teenager would.

    (On the other hand, I have yet to write a racy sex scene - or any sex scene, really - in my NA stories, so, maybe I'm not fully capturing the meaning of the genre haha.)

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    1. I agree with you that many YA books aren't plausible in real life- you are completely right, where ARE the parents? Having a New Adult genre would solve that problem (and make me feel like less of a creeper for reading about teen boys)!

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  2. I read YA for the same reasons are you, so I haven't ventured into any NA titles either. I think it's probably going to stick around, but I wonder how the marketing will work? Will there be NA sections in books stores? Or a New Adult category in the Kindle store? (I kind of doubt that since the YA books are listed under Children's on my Kindle...took me forever to find them! :) Thanks for this interesting post!

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    1. I agree- I wonder if they will still the "New Adult" books in the Adult section... hmmmm...

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  3. I think the NA label is a good idea. There are many YA titles while great for an adult I would not want my kid to read due to language, sex, etc. Now I am hoping those will be NA and the clean books will be YA helping parents who monitor what their kids read have an easier time selecting books.

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    1. You make a good point- this would be helpful for parents. (Luckily mine are still in picture books :) )

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  4. I see it as a marketing ploy only. Either you're an adult or you're a young adult there is no magical gray area regardless if the publishers want it. I hope they realize how silly a NA genre is and drop it entirely. Sadly, I know better and don't see it happening.

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  5. The best thing about New Adult is that nothing is standard--the rules are thrown out the door, which is a lot of fun. The line between YA and adult fiction has blurred in the last several years.

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