Recently I posted on Facebook about my frustration with the young adult category for books. There's such a varying opinion on just what age range this is. I've always considered it 15-25 year olds. On another blog, I saw it classified as 12-17. YA and Teen seem to be used interchangeably. That presents a problem for me. Since I started writing Ilyon Chronicles, I've been calling it a YA series, but I consider it upper YA. I don’t want anyone to come along randomly and think it’s just another teen series, because it isn’t. Not that teens can’t read it, but only two of my quite a few point of view characters are in their teens at the start of the series. Everyone else is between 20 and late fifties. They’re all adults, or will be by the end of the series.
Now, I have read YA books with older characters, but I still balk at sticking Ilyon in the category. So what choice does that leave me? Let me introduce you to the “New Adult”(NA) category of fiction. I only just discovered this in the last few weeks. This category covers readers 18-25+ who are newly into adulthood. Definitely more what I was thinking for Ilyon. The category had me intrigued right away. However, after some research, I discovered that the vast majority of NA fiction is full of inappropriate material. It seems to be an excuse to write YA fiction and add all the R rated material that isn’t allowed in YA. With a stigma like this, I initially shied away from using the NA label. However, with a bit more thought and an email from a reader, I’ve given it more consideration. The fact that NA is filled with such books just presents the huge need for a clean, Godly alternative. That has been one of my biggest goals since I started publishing—to offer alternatives to what the world produces. The more I’ve thought about this, the more excited I’ve become. I feel like I’ve been given a mission to be a sort of pioneer in Christian NA fiction.
Some people wonder at the need for a category between YA and adult. If we’re in our twenties, why not just read adult fiction, right? We are adults after all. But I’ve always felt a need for something in between. I think it has to do with book style. I’ve always loved to read and write YA. It’s just different from adult fiction. I feel like NA presents a YA style book with older, more mature characters that we who are in our late teens and twenties can identify with better than, say, a 15 year old protagonist.
Another reason I love this new trend toward NA is it perfectly fits my growth as an author. As I’ve said, I love to write YA, but as I get older and mature, I naturally want to write about older, more mature characters. Yet, I don’t want to make the switch over to adult fiction. NA is the perfect middle ground for where I’m at. I can write more mature fiction, but still do it with a YA feel.
It will be interesting to see where NA goes in the future and whether or not it will be adopted by the Christian market. Either way, I’m quite excited about this new direction my writing is taking. After all, I’ve always gravitated toward doing things different from the norm.