Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Adult Books, and Why My Life Does Not Resemble Porn

Well, I'm back, and better than ever! (Okay, so really if I don't see another piece of matzah till next Passover that will be more than fine.)
But nevertheless, I'm back :)
And with a new series of rambling blog posts- THEMED blog posts. (which may be interjected by other topics of conversation should they show up. That whole limited attention span thing.)
THEMED, people. I am so super official now. (or am I? Okay, I'm shutting up now.)

When you meander through the world of writing and publishing, there are a couple of topics that will ALWAYS come up. The traditional vs non-trad publishing, Amazon, disappearing bookstores, and oh, yeah. New Adult.

So, in case you aren't swimming in the trenches of the world of writing, here's a short little explanation as to what the fluff New Adult is.

According to Wikipedia, the source of all credible information, "New-adult Fiction or post-adolescent literature is a recent category of fiction for young adults first proposed by St. Martin's Press in 2009. St. Martin’s Press editors wanted to address the coming-of-age that also happens in a young person’s twenties. They wanted to consider stories about young adults who were legally adults, but who were still finding their way in building a life and figuring out what it means to be an adult."

Which is pretty accurate, all things considered. New Adult fiction is still an emerging genre, going by Big Six publishers. With the incredible success of New Adult books (Beautiful Disaster, Slammed), it is starting to trickle through from being a predominantly indie genre to becoming more mainstream.
But like anything new, there are still all kinds of arguments over what falls into the genre of New Adult.
And so, with that being said, I've decided that perhaps having people who actually ARE the age of a New Adult should express some opinions about New Adult fiction. The same way we expect Young Adult fiction to cover the full spectrum of teenage-hood, the same could and should be expected of New Adult fiction. And so we're going to be debunking New Adult myths and stereotypes here, one at a time.

MYTH/STEREOTYPE NUMERO UNO: New Adult fiction is just Young Adult with lots more sex.

As someone who actually falls into the NA age bracket, I want to tell you that personally, I'm kind of offended.
According to the lovely people who think that 50 Shades of Gray is a good example of NA (because a surprisingly large number of people do) all my life consists of is sex. Like, that's it.

I really hate to break it to all of you, but, uh, no.
Not really.
Like, for real.
In real life.
Abso-freakin-lutely not.
Just to make sure I'm making myself clear?
If for some reason, you ever wonder, Gee, I wonder what KK's life looks like, the answer would not be porn.

Not everyone's 18-24 experience will be the same. (I know. That was utterly scandalous of me to write. I should be ashamed of myself for making a gross assumption that just because two people are the same age, it doesn't mean their lives are the same. I mean, come on. Who would DO that?)
I have friends who got married at 19, and at 22 are pregnant with their second child. Other friends who headed straight to college after high school. Some who took a year off to try to figure things out. Some friends who just started working, and didn't go to college at all, nor do they plan on ever. I can go on for approximately the next four days about how there is no one version of new adulthood.
And yet, as far as I know, none of their lives resemble porn. (Unless they're really good at hiding things like that, or porn is a little different than I thought.)

Are there some 18-24 year olds who are currently living 50 Shades of Gray? It's entirely possible. True, I haven't met any of them, but there are millions and billions of people I've yet to meet.
But Ms. 50SoG's existence does not negate the 20 year old who still lives at home and works while she goes to city college, and has no boyfriend, nor does she want one. Nor does it negate the 23 year old who is trying to figure out how to balance life now that she has a grown up job, and all her friends are still partying. Or the 18 year old high school drop out because she got pregnant at 16, and has to figure out how to reconcile her dreams now that her baby is a year old.

Like any other genre of books, NA is not and should not be limited to steamy romances. (Not that I have anything against steamy romances, but really.)

Contrary to seemingly popular belief, we're not just walking hormones.
We worry about school. We take spontaneous road trips and have too much fun. We worry about our career choices. We're stuck in between kid and grown up, and don't know which one we want to be a part of. There are times we're thrust into the grown up position, only to have, minutes later, someone treat us like we're kids. Our relationships are changing as everyone drifts together and apart, trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. There are times that we don't like the people they find that they are. Friendships break, friendships form. We stay up too late, and chances are, we drink too much coffee. We experiment with everything, and revel in the fact that nobody can tell us what to do, except for when they do. We listen to our music loud, and have soundless conversations. We try to figure out how to juggle everything that's thrown at us without losing ourselves. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail miserably. We are brilliant and completely stupid, often simultaneously. We're reckless and overly cautious, and we're trying to hang on to our dreams even when there are stadiums full of people saying we can't.
Everything makes sense and nothing makes sense, all at the same time. The world is changing, and it's all we can do to keep up.

We're just a bunch of not-quite-adults who might not know what we want to be when we grow up.
And it's demeaning to shelve us as nothing but sex-starved college students.
For your sake, for my sake, for everyone's sake.
We might be different ages, but we're all just human.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really interested in the growth of the series. When NA first set off, I often would mention how it's not just porn. Of course, most NA books out and popular were heavy Contemporary Romances with lots of sex...didn't really help my argument. I'm 20 and a lot of NA books out there don't appeal to me for reasons you mentioned. However the category is growing, St. Matin's Press has been pushing a lot of it, so I can't wait to see where it goes. I'm sure soon enough I'll have a list of my favorite NA fantasy and sci-fi books. I'd love an NA Urban Fantasy :) ...hmmm, maybe I'll write one ;)