Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about a new genre fiction label—New Adult. In simple terms, it’s a grown-up Young Adult category. The characters are older, 18 to 30, the twentysomethings, and they take on more emotionally complicated issues as they act as adults for the first times.
The label was coined in 2009 when St. Martin’s Press held a contest looking for stories that could be marketed to both YA readers and adult readers. The contest described for new adult fiction as books “with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience.”
For a definition beyond those simple descriptions, YALitChat.org founder Georgia McBride interviewed an editorial assistant who worked on the St. Martin’s writing contest.
“…there is a gap in the current adult market–the literary fiction market–for fiction about twentysomethings. You never stop growing up, I think, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens in your 20s. This is the time of life when you are an actual, legal adult, but just because you’re able to vote (in the US, anyway) that doesn’t mean you know HOW to be one. This is the first time when you are building a life that is your OWN, away from your parents and the family that raised you. It’s a strange and scary place to be. Just as YA is fiction about discovering who you are as a person, I think NA is fiction about building your own life. (Very generalised, of course.) I hope that the creation of this category will allow the adult market to develop and expand in similar ways the children’s market did.”
With the establishment of this new genre label, I wonder what that might mean for speculative fiction. In terms of YA, the changes were huge, since the majority of that category involves some type of fantasy, usually urban fantasy or paranormal romance. Will that same trend continue into the New Adult category? Will that create a new audience for fantasy writers? Or do existing paranormal romances and urban fantasies already focus on main characters in their 20s, and the books will just get additional marketing labels slapped on them?
What are your thoughts about how the advent of New Adult will affect the speculative fiction market?