The New Adult Genre: Here To Stay This Time?

Image via CollegeDegrees360 (flickr cc)A while back, I think in late 2009, there were rumblings of this new genre called New Adult. This genre would cover an age group often ignored in fiction--the 18-25 year old protagonist. In theory, it was supposed to fill in the gap between Young Adult fiction and Adult fiction. St. Martin's even came out with a call for that type of book. It felt like it was going to be a "thing". I remember all this distinctly because my friend, Julie Cross, had written a book that had college-aged protags (Tempest) and ended up publishing with St. Martin's.

But after that initial buzz about the genre, I didn't hear too much more about it for a while. Personally, I was kind of disappointed because I really like the idea of stories about that age group. So much happens to us in those years--it's rife with the drama of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, figuring out who you are, who you want to be, etc. All the good angsty things that can create good fiction. Plus, you can be a little more flexible with your characters because you don't have to worry as much about the rules that apply to YA fiction. So I was hoping it would get more traction than it did at the time.

Then, just when I thought the idea has faded into the background, 50 Shades happened. 

Yes, most of the buzz about 50 Shades is about the "erotic" parts. But honestly, that part was nothing new. Erotic romance, and specifically BDSM erotic romance, has been around for a long, long time. And has been a thriving sub genre for at least a decade. What was different about 50 Shades was that it was basically erotic YA. Yes, yes, the heroine is in her 20s but it READS like a teen character. (And that makes sense considering it was originally Twilight fan fiction.)

So back in March when I was chatting with agent Sara and YA author Mari Mancusi about 50 Shades at a conference, I jokingly predicted that the next big thing was going to be erotic YA. That's what I thought the book was tapping into.

And holy crap, you know what? I was kind of right. (That never happens.) Except it's not YA, it's New Adult. In the past, it's kind of been a touchy area--18-20 somethings having smexy times in a book, but now it's everywhere. It's a "thing". Look at the books that have done really well post-50 Shades: Bared to You by Sylvia Day (heroine is fresh out of college, starting her first job), Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (college student I believe), Beth Kery's Because You Are Mine (heroine is right out of college), On Dublin Street  by Samantha Young which I'm reading right now (heroine fresh out of college.) I also read Sheltered by Charlotte Stein earlier this year and it was in the same vein. I know there are many more, but that's just the ones off the top of my head.

Of course, these also have another theme in common--the older, more experienced guy. But that's nothing new to the romance genre. Most historical romances have that dynamic. And even in my books, I usually have a more experienced guy (usually meaning more experienced in BDSM) even if the age difference between the hero and the heroine may not be big. 

AND by total coincidence (seriously, I pitched this idea before this trend started rolling), my e-serial tentatively titled NOT UNTIL YOU falls into this category. The story starts on the day my heroine graduates from veterinary school. And my hero, her neighbor, definitely didn't plan to get involved with some "kid". : ) Of course, his plan doesn't go so well.

So I, for one, am excited about this trend. I always say that erotic romance and YA are my two favorite genres to read. I even started out writing YA. And it's one of the reasons I did a dual timeline in Crash Into You. Half the story is ten years earlier when she's in college, so it's actually half new adult, lol.

So this genre kind of blends what I love most about both adult romance and YA together. When it's well written, I really enjoy that coming-into-adulthood story where we get to see the insecurity and angst of being young and unsure mixed in with the ability to explore and take some risks, to act like an adult.

And with all this momentum, I'm hoping the genre is here to stay. Not just in the erotic subset but in general. Bring on the new adult!

So how do you feel about this genre? Have you read anything you'd consider New Adult? If so, what's been your favorite so far?