Ah, New Adult…Man, I love this little genre. It’s the age where you’re finally making peace with not only who you are, but how you relate to the world around you. How do you get there? That age is a roller coaster of emotion, and there’s inevitably going to be a few mistakes. So doesn’t it make sense that our New Adult characters would make those same mistakes?
New Adult is known for angst, for the drama that accompanies the age and keeps the pages turning. Heck, I can’t think of one New Adult book I’ve read that I haven’t, at one point, thought about smacking the heroine or hero for some idiotic choice they made that led to said drama. But you know what? They’re 18-25 years old or so. Who the heck has it together at that age? So while our characters are making mistakes, swimming through the drama, and hopefully coming out the other side with a better understanding of what went wrong, we’re along for the roller coaster ride.
In romance, nothing can be sweeter, or more agonizing than the anticipation, the heights we climb with the characters before we know they’re about to fall. We turn the pages, expectantly clicking up the incline. Then it happens, and the exhilaration of the plunge is worth the frustration getting there. The relief is usually short-lived before there are twists, turns, loops, all caused by what? Usually mistakes. Sure, there’s outside forces at play, putting pressure on our characters, but chances are, they’re going to mess it up.
And you like it.
Yes, I said it. You like the drama. You like the mistakes, even as you’re ready to toss your Kindle across the room at 2 a.m. because a miscommunication just blew up in the heroine’s face. As much as we may deny it, it’s the mistakes, the drama that keep us coming back for more because as much as we hate that the characters got themselves into their latest debacle, we’re cheering for them to get out of it. That’s where the growth happens, and what makes it New Adult as the characters dig their way out, unraveling who they were raised to be to discover who they really are. Without the mistakes, we don’t afford them the opportunity to learn, and who wants to read that kind of story? The twists, dips, heck even the occasional backwards movements are what make a story exciting.
In my new release, EYES TURNED SKYWARD, twenty-year old Paisley suffers from the same heart condition that killed her older sister. Everyone she knows treats her like a heart attack waiting to happen, until she meets Jagger Bateman. He’s a brand new lieutenant in Army Aviation flight school, and Paisley is not only the commanding general’s daughter —she’s the girlfriend of his rival. As their friendship grows, you’d think she’d immediately tell Jagger about her condition, but she doesn’t. Why? Because he doesn’t treat her like glass, and she needs that in her life more than anything else. Mistake? Maybe. Human? Absolutely, but that’s the point.
If we started our characters off perfect, where would our roller coaster lead us? What kind of ride would that be? Probably one at the kiddie end of the park. Personally, I want my heart to race at the anticipation of the ride. I want to gasp at the turns, and my stomach to fall when it pitches us backwards. I want to take a ride with the characters, and New Adult is the perfect vehicle for it.
If you’re settling in for the evening with a New Adult novel, buckle up, chances are you’re in for a spectacular ride, mistakes and all.