When new adult books exploded a handful of years ago, writers jumped at the
chance to explore this new category. Most of these authors self-published and
became extremely well known. Then as other authors jumped on the bandwagon, many did so thinking it might be a “get rich quick” scheme. Because of this, the quality of new adult books went down. Readers became disappointed with the overused plot lines that exist in a lot of NA. Even I’ve reduced the amount of NA I read. It’s gotten a bad reputation, which is why almost no agents want these stories and most publishers don’t either. I’ve also heard readers say they don’t read NA because the stories are all the same: predictable contemporary romance with lots of sex.
I might agree with the predictability of many NA plots. But I disagree when it
comes to claiming the NA category was created simply as a way to add more sex
into young adult books and ‘get away with it’. First of all, there’s sex in YA,
too. And not all NA stories include sex. (Imagine that!)
I’ve read tons of new adult books. (Most of them straight romance.) And yes,
I’ve grown bored with the overused plots that frequently occur—even ones written by my favorite authors. But how is this any different than the similarities within YA books? Vampires had their run. So did apocalyptic/dystopian worlds. As did the “chosen one” stories. My question is this: why can’t everyone see the need for the NA category—and the need for other genres of NA.
We have books for young children, middle-grade kids, young adults, and adults.
But what about the things that happen to you when you’re between eighteen and twenty-five? A LOT. Do you remember that time in your life when you were first set free from your parents and thrown into a whole new world all by yourself? Or maybe you’re going through that stage right now. It seems unfair to say NA isn’t sellable anymore when there are still plenty of readers buying them. Readers need and want to experience all types of stories, with characters in every age category.
In my NA contemporary romance, THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS,
the main characters never have sex. Sure, they kiss and get pretty freaking
close to having sex, but don’t. Why? Because the plot didn’t require the
sex—there’s plenty of romance and other subplots going on. I’m not saying sex
shouldn’t occur as much as it does in NA books. I’m simply saying that to
believe NA is merely sexed-up YA is…well, not true. My story isn’t simply a
romance filled with sex scenes. I added in some plot twists and as much emotion
as I could pack in there because I wanted to write a story that explored more
than simply the romance angle. My book has romance as well as the characters
dealing with grief and loss, survivor’s guilt, and extremely unique circumstances.
On too many occasions to count, I considered aging THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS down to young adult. If I had, I probably would’ve found an agent with it. (One was even interested in representing me if I aged it down.) But aging it down meant taking my main character, Audra, out of college, putting her back home with her parents, and giving her “teenage issues”. And none of those things would’ve done her story any justice. And based on the early reviews I’ve received, I’m glad I kept it as a NA book.
One reviewer said:
“Reading THE HEARTBREAK HYPOTHESIS is like hearing a new
voice that speaks out for teenage angst that’s fully captured in its powerful, moody glory. But the subjects that Lindsey Frydman deals with here are difficult, heavy and weighed down with the solemnity of death, life and deception.”
NA stories are necessary—it’s an important time in your life, and there’s so
much more going on than just a ‘boy meets girl, then they have lots of sex’.
It’s about discovering who you are on your own, dealing with new responsibilities, and finding your place and purpose in life. Everyone
eventually goes through this stage, so why would we not want books that
represent this age category? I can only hope that readers and publishers take
another look at how important new adult stories can be.
About Lindsey Frydman
Lindsey has been writing since she was nine years old, when she discovered the awesomeness that is Harriet the Spy. Her books always include a romance, though sometimes there’s an added sci-fi or magical realism twist. She lives in Columbus, Ohio (where the weather is never quite right). Her BFA in Photography and Graphic Design has granted her a wide assortment of creative knowledge that serves as inspiration (and not much else).
When she’s not crafting YA and NA stories, you’ll likely find her spending waaay
too much time on Pinterest, playing a video game, singing show-tunes, or
performing in a burlesque show—because she enjoys giving her introversion a
worthy adversary. (Plus, it’s the closest to Broadway she’ll ever get.) Lindsey
was a proud 2016 Pitch Wars Mentee and thoroughly adores being a part of the
wonderful writing community. THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS is her debut novel.