What is New Adult Fiction?

You know how we needed the term “tween” for those kids ages nine to fourteen or so, girls that are “too old for toys, but too young for boys?” Because you don’t just skip from childhood to being a teen the moment you turn thirteen right? So it is with adulthood—you also don’t magically morph into an adult when you turn eighteen.

“New Adult” is about those ages between eighteen and twenty-six, focusing on college-aged kids who are just trying out their wings in the world, taking their first baby steps into lives of their own. This type of fiction features protagonists who fall into the “new adult” category and deals with themes that (hopefully) tweens and young adults aren’t ready to handle on a mature level yet—sexual relationships, developing identity, negotiating college or military deployment or their first “real” jobs, dealing with commitment or engagement, domestic violence, drug and alcohol use, family problems, etc.

New Adult can fall into any genre (contemporary, mystery, horror, romance, comedy etc) but its defining feature remains the age of the characters and the more adult themes they are dealing with as they enter the “grown-up” world. 

As for why I chose New Adult—I really didn’t. It chose me. I was writing “new adult” fiction before it became a thing, when there was no true market for it. For a long time, “New Adult” fiction had the same problem that tweens did—it straddled the fence. New Adult fiction fell into the cracks between two genres—a little too mature for young adults, but not quite right for full adult readership either. Now I’m glad to have found a home in “New Adult,” a place to belong, and I plan on settling in and staying here a long time!


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