NA Isn't Sexed Up YA or Erotica
By Juliana Haygert
Disclaimer: I like my books, the ones I write and the ones I read, with at least a little romance in them, but my personal reading preferences don't include erotica.
If you know what New Adult is, you've heard of ABC Nightline's piece about the subject. You haven't? Shame on you! I'll give you a chance to go read it or see it. Go. I'll wait. [taps foot and hums the new Belinda single]
Are you back? Are you as mad about the article as I am?
First, let's start by explaining New Adult is a category, not a genre. Category is related to age: middle grad, young adult, new adult, adult. Genre is the "flavor" of those categories: contemporary, paranormal, thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.
Second, those reporters really don't know what they are talking about. New Adult isn't about sex and I can prove that with one simple statement: Slammed by Colleen Hoover, the book they talk so much about in that article has NO ssex scenes. NONE! So why do they state New Adult is Young Adult with Erotica, when there's no erotic element in the book they take as example? (note: I know the reporter said that Slammed has more sexual tension than sex, but, hey, if you're gonna accuse NA of being erotica, Slammed isn't the right book to drive your point home!)
And if you're thinking about Fifty Shades of Grey, that's another story. I know people, including some of my NA sisters, who consider the NA Erotica (NA = category, Erotica = genre). But I don't. To me, Erotica is Erotica. Otherwise you would have YA Erotica, MG Erotica, Adult Erotica...Anyway, I have a guess as to why people associate sex with New Adult, and the answer is in the same vein of whey people think New Adult is only contemporary. Being about college-aged characters, New Adult deals with sexuality a lot, and, since it's a new category, it deals with "real-life" issues (contemporary fiction), which includes sexual exploration.
My friend and author, Magan Vernon, wrote a blog post in response to ABC's article and I loved this sentence: New Adult is "about a period of life that yeah is going to be more sexually charged than a fifteen year old's"...So true! You can't run from it - much. But that doesn't mean that sex is the focus of the story. If you're in the writing business as we are, you heard a statement like this "sex shouldn't happen for the sake of sex. It has to be a natural part of the story, a step on the life of the character. It has to have a purpose, it has to change the characters"...And this is true for New Adult too. If you're reading NA books that are more smexy than others, it's because the topic it deals with is more smexy and sex is going to be part of a big change in the character's life.
As New Adult grows old, more genres will appear and soon we'll see an explosion of paranormal, urban fantasy, sci-fi and any other genre, dealing with those same issues, including sex. My NA Sister, Victoria H. Smith wrote a sci-fi, The Crimson Hunt, and though there's kissing, there's no sex. Carrie Butler, also my NA Sister, wrote a NA paranormal romance titled Strength that also only has kissing. Another one of my NA Sisters, Summer Lane, wrote a NA dystopia titled State of Emergency and there's no sex in it. My own paranormal romance, Destiny Gift, which comes out in April, has some kissing, but no sex.
What I'm trying to say is: sex is part of a college-aged person's life and is going to be part of our characters' lives, some way or another. But that doesn't mean it's crucial, it doesn't mean NA needs to have any sex. I've read a couple of NA urban fantasy and sci-fi that have no sex scenes and no kissing and even no sexual tension. It was all for the adventure - and these books are good! New Adult is about the character's reaction to the situation he lives in. A college-aged character will have to react to situations where he is confronted by sex - either because he wants/has it or because his roommate is horny.
If you're still curious about NA, you can read more on its definition and a list of books separated by genre on NA Alley.
Thanks, Hannah, for having me and putting up with my rant!
About Juliana: While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting - but equally gratifying - life of a wife, mother and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.
Find her online: NA Alley :: Twitter :: Facebook
Find her online: NA Alley :: Twitter :: Facebook
Make sure you watch out for her upcoming novel Destiny Gift out on April 9, 2013!
About Destiny Gift: Thirty years in the future, a sinister New York City exists in permanent darkness.A student at the secured NYU, nineteen-year-old Nadine has visions of Victor Gianni, an imaginary guy she has real feelings for. Afraid of being truly insane, she explains the visions away as simple daydreams, but she can no longer deny them when she bumps into Victor in real life. But this Victor doesn’t know her, and turns her away. After the encounter, Nadine’s visions change to those of eerie fates, gods she’s never heard of, demons with sharp claws they are not too timid to use … and instructions.
To discover if she’s losing her mind, Nadine follows the vague directions—with the real, rude and reluctant Victor—leading to a man who knows it all: Nadine can restore an ancient creed by unveiling the clues on her visions, and bring sunlight and peace to the world again. But that’s only if the demons and the other evil forces behind the darkness don’t stop her first.