This week, I’m doing a three-part Q&A with six New Adult SFF authors. If you missed Tuesday’s post with Sarah Harian and Summer Lane, click here. If you missed yesterday’s post with Karen Duvall and Juliana Haygert, click here. As a thank you to participants, I’m giving away a free book (winner’s choice from among the books featured in the series; format and delivery method will vary based on winner’s choice) and a $10 eGift Certificate to a bookstore of the winner’s choice. Want to enter to win one of the prizes or add your thoughts to the discussion? Please do by commenting below! Today, please welcome Rebecca Hamilton and Carrie Butler. I’m interviewing Rebecca in the same Q&A style as the rest, but Carrie’s going to wrap up this series with a guest post.
Rebecca Hamilton is a bestselling Paranormal Fantasy author who also dabbles in Horror and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and four kids. She enjoys dancing with her kids to television show theme songs and would love the beach if it weren’t for the sand. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently. She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA and has been published internationally, in three languages.
Carrie Butler daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams. Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—one of the first websites dedicated to the category. A year later, she started a design business specializing in graphics for the publishing industry, called Forward Authority. Her Mark of Nexus series has appeared on Amazon bestselling, top-rated, and hot new release lists in various genres.
Jill Archer: Do you feel the term “New Adult fiction” has become synonymous with “college romance”?
Rebecca Hamilton: No, not at all. In fact, many of my favorite New Adult authors aren’t writing the college setting or a romance plot! One thing to keep in mind is that New Adult is an audience category, not a book genre. Categories: Children, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult. Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi, etc. Sometimes genres mix, like Paranormal Romance or Paranormal Mystery. Then they are categorized by audience. You might have a New Adult Mystery or a Young Adult Paranormal Romance or an Adult Fantasy or Middle Grade Horror (like the Goosebumps books). I do think some categories seem to preference certain genres more. For example, we aren’t seeing a lot of New Adult Horror–maybe because New Adult is still a new category?–but we are seeing a lot of New Adult Romance and New Adult Mystery.
Jill: Do you think the label “New Adult” is helpful to fantasy readers (versus romance readers)? If so, what do you think distinguishes New Adult fantasy from adult fantasy?
Becca: I think the category is definitely helpful. It indicates to readers (whether they read fantasy or romance) that the story is written in a new-adult-appropriate way. The sexual content and violent content and language are new adult appropriate. The tone and language and delivery of the story is more advanced than young adult but a little softer than adult. New Adult is meant to appeal to the 18-25 category, and the protagonist in these books is often in that age range as well. I feel, as a reader, that the New Adult category helps me know what to expect from the content and style of the book. The protagonists “real life” problems will be new adult problems: going off to college, moving out on their own, settling down in life or with another person, and sometimes “coming of age” problems fit as well. Adult books I find have a slightly slower pace and more “later in life” problems. This is true even with fantasy. A well-developed character might have to worry about vampires tracking them down, but they will still have “real life” problems, like they can’t miss dinner with their parents on Sunday night or a term paper is due at college or their boss is about to fire them for coming into work late every day (must be those late nights slaying vamps…). The “real life” problems in an adult book may sometimes be similar, but are often different–like having to deal with the death of a parent, starting or caring for a family, or paying off debts.
Jill: Last month, a writer left a comment on my blog, which is paraphrased below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. (You can see her original question and my answer here).
I am a writer who is currently working on a fantasy manuscript featuring an 18 year-old apprentice. There are romantic elements, but the relationship is not the focus of the story – her adventures are. I’ve noticed that most NA fantasies have a romance plot rather than a quest or mystery plot. Do you think there’s a market for a story such as this? What are your thoughts?
Becca: I’m a bestselling (on kindle) and internationally published (Hungary and Germany) New Adult author. My series, The Forever Girl, has a quest/mystery plot with the romance as a subplot, and it has even been optioned for film. I have read a ton of new adult books in 2012 and 2013 where the romance is the subplot, not the focus of the story, so I would say from my writing and reading experience that there is definitely a market for stories like these! I’ve also noticed such books have more crossover appeal between male and female readers. So keep writing and stay in tune with your audience. You’re writing what people want to read, and you’re in good company!
Jill: Are you currently writing, or have you recently published, a New Adult Fantasy? If so, can you share a little bit about it?
Becca: My paranormal fantasy series, The Forever Girl, fits into the New Adult category quite nicely. I was happy when the category came about because the content is too mature for most teens and yet the style and story really wasn’t going to apply to the older adult audience. Book two in the series is with my agent and being shopped around to publishers now, and I’ll be starting on Book 3 in April (hopefully!).
Here’s the blurb of book 1: At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her. Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she’d settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.
The series introduces all of the Forever Girls (there will be five in total) and brings them together to fight off the Maltorim–a preternatural council only concerned with helping their own species to thrive, by any means possible. I can’t say too much more than that without giving away spoilers!
Jill: Besides yourself, which authors and/or books can you recommend to readers who are looking for New Adult fantasy?
Becca: Five from the elemental emnity series by Christie Rich. That was a fun read! I also really liked Girl Over the Edge by Amy Kinzer. Powerful story and a perfect example of how New Adult books aren’t all romance!
Is Multi-Genre NA a Fantasy?
The struggle is past us. The stigma is fading. After years of fighting to make New Adult (NA) a legitimate category, it’s finally happening—but the definition has shifted.
As with most industries, ours is shaped by consumers’ purchasing decisions. So, because NA’s awareness was brought on by the success of contemporary romance, it initially became synonymous with college romance. (Media sensationalism didn’t help either, calling it “sexed-up YA”… *grumbles*) Fortunately, many of us have been doing everything in our power to promote a wide variety of genres within the category, i.e. writing outside of contemporary romance, petitioning retailers to list NA in more places, doing special blog-hops to create awareness, etc. It’s been an uphill battle, but things are slowly changing.
And just in the nick of time.
There’s a market waiting. At the end of last year, I conducted an NA-specific survey and stumbled across some interesting results. When asked which genre readers would most like to see more of, 9% of them answered fantasy, 8% answered paranormal romance, and 7% answered paranormal. That adds up to almost a quarter of all respondents!
New Adult fantasy differs from adult fantasy in that it highlights that oh-so-crucial transition between adolescence and adulthood. We get to explore the learning experiences that come with newfound freedom, while providing a fantastical outlet. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster (read: entertainment), I don’t know what is. 😉
As for my speculative endeavors, I just published Honesty (Mark of Nexus #2.5)—an urban fantasy novella/series side story—in March. If you’re into warped, male POVs, it might strike your fancy:
“Blackmail and vigilantism hold no consequence for Cole Blake, until an error in judgment stops him dead in his super-accelerated tracks. Now burdened with the closest thing he’s ever had to a conscience, he must own up to his past and fight his darker impulses—before it’s too late to shield those he actually cares about.”
Dun, dun, dun… right? Do me a favor. While you’re on Amazon buying Honesty (kidding!), have a look at their category system. You may notice something encouraging: They’ve finally listed “New Adult & College” as a subcategory of fantasy! I think we can count that one as a victory, don’t you? 😉
Ophelia’s been successful at hiding her true identity, until the mark of the serpent appears on her neck—a death sentence, should it be seen by anyone in her town. Hiding the mark might save her from falling victim to the witch hunts of her era, but the scorching sensation it carries can’t be ignored.
When the mysterious Ethan is sent to collect her for a life of something more, she learns concealing the mark is the least of her concerns. She’s destined to do a new task—to join a dark, supernatural world and protect the future of people she may never meet.
What she doesn’t know—what she learns too late—is that her initiation won’t be complete until she kills the man who’s captured her heart.
Cole Blake is more than just a roguish ladies’ man. He’s also a dedicated worker—so dedicated, in fact, that he’s willing to blackmail his boss with a falsified sex tape in order to keep his job. And his proactive efforts don’t end there. After hours, he uses his Dynari abilities to moonlight as a vigilante, keeping his neighborhood safe from drunks, dealers, and would-be thieves.
Until a mistake stops him dead in his super-accelerated tracks.
Now burdened with the closest thing he’s ever had to a conscience, Cole struggles to justify his once-reckless actions. It’d be all too easy to give in to his darker impulses, especially with ERA making dangerous advances toward their goal of revolution, but embracing that hatred could jeopardize the few relationships he actually cares about—including his pursuit of the saintly Rachel Ranford. No, in order to keep everyone safe, he’ll have to come clean about his warring compulsions and ask for help… before his dark side takes over.
So, everyone, how about you? Have any questions for either Becca or Carrie? Interested in winning a copy of HER SWEETEST DOWNFALL or HONESTY?
We’d love to hear from you so please add your thoughts in the comments! Let us know what you think about new adult fantasy, what you’re currently reading, what you’re doing this weekend, what your favorite day of the week is…
Thank you to Becca and Carrie for participating in this Q&A series! Tomorrow, I’ll share my final thoughts and announce the winners. (Commenters have until 4:00 p.m. EDT on 4/4/14 to enter to win the free book or the eGC).
Have a great night, all! Until tomorrow…