Friday, January 23, 2015

New Adult and Young Adult

NA and YA 

The most common question we get here at is, "What exactly is the New Adult (NA) genre? Isn't it just a different name for Young Adult (YA)?" The short answer to that question is, "No way!"

The second most common question we hear is, "Who took my slice of pizza out of the fridge?" The answer to that is always, "I didn't see your name on it!"

The third most common question we hear is, "What, then, is the difference between NA and YA books?" For that question, we have a slightly longer answer. What we say is that there's quite a bit to distinguish the two genres. Young adult fiction typically spans the main characters' teen years, up through high school. They're usually dependent on parents or guardians and are (or should be) in school. These books focus on the mindset of a teenager, including emphasis on school, friends, and families. Characters might begin to consider their futures, including careers, but aren't ready to focus on them yet.

New Adult books pick up where YA leaves off, focusing on main characters between 18 and 25 years old who are much more independent. They might be in college or entering the workforce. They might still be financially dependent on their parents/guardians, but since they're legally adults, we don't need any special story lines to find these characters out on their own. For instance, in many YA books, the main characters' parents have fallen victim to some tragedy that has resulted in their death or disappearance. That allows the YA teenage protagonists to be more independent than kids this age would normally be. Harry Potter, for example, is a young boy on his own because his parents died at the hands of an evil wizard. The Hunger Games' YA heroine Katniss Everdeen is pulled away from her family by a cruel government that wants to televise her death.

Another interesting distinction between YA and NA is sex. Because YA protagonists are generally underage, YA books don't include graphic sex. On the other hand, NA characters are usually at least 18 years, so they can and often do enjoy explicit, vigorous, and even experimental sexual situations. Is it any wonder the NA genre is gaining such popularity?

The New Adult genre has snagged the attention of both YA readers and YA writers. The Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators published an article in their September/October 2014 SCBWI Bulletin called "New Adult Fiction for the Young Adult Writer" by Deborah Halverson. It focuses on how writers of YA fiction can access the NA audience. The article points out that many authors of NA fiction also write YA, and not surprisingly, there's a great deal of carryover between readers of NA and YA.

So, yes, New Adult is a relatively new genre with its own unique characteristics, but its roots are in the perennial favorite Young Adult category. Who knows? Tomorrow your favorite YA authors might release the next hot NA title. Stay tuned to for details.

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