Welcome to another day of New Adult August! We’re talking about all things New Adult throughout this month, and you can find out what we’ve shared so far and what to expect right here!
This week is dedicated to discussing New Adult books that aren’t contemporaries. Sara Mariah loves the category New Adult, but she’s not so much a fan of contemporaries. That’s why she wants MORE speculative NA, which she so eloquently talks about below!
Beyond the Contemporaries
A few years ago, I finally typed “The End” on my first serious novel, something I’d been on-and-off writing for way too long. Right around the same time, I also discovered New Adult and, after reading Juliana Haygert’s Breaking the Reins and spending a week Googling what NA even was, I thought it was an absolutely perfect fit category-wise for my manuscript.
Then came the slap in the face: the genre didn’t fit.
Fast forward to last year. I learned about Pitch Wars and thought I’d give it a shot with my manuscript, so I hung out in the Q&As, watched the mentor chats, and got as active as I could on the #PitchWars tag. After discussing it with the mentors, they corroborated what I’d learned: my manuscript wasn’t New Adult.
Because apparently NA is only for contemporary romance. There was no place for my incredibly non-contemporary manuscript.
And how could it be any different?
If you’re a member of the New Adult Book Club on Goodreads, then you’ll find that some 99% of the books offered in their Read & Review program are contemporaries. Once there was a science fiction book that I read and liked well enough. Another time, there was an urban fantasy that was, eh, okay but not something I myself liked very much. I think there might have been a thriller once, too, but I missed out on that one.
This presents a big problem for me, not only as a writer of speculative fiction, but as a reader, as well.
Real talk here: I strongly dislike contemporary romance and I get hella bored hella fast with it.
Not liking contemporary romance has nothing to do with turning my nose up at the romance genre in general or with not wanting to read sex scenes because “eww gross!” or whatever.
I’m a professional equestrian—AKA I make my living riding horses—and I swear, if I have to read one more contemporary romance that hypersexualizes, mocks, or demeans me and my profession, I’m gonna throw something.
Speculative fiction, especially high fantasy, tends to pay proper respect.
Not only that, but holy crap is speculative fiction exciting! (I prefer it when things blow up. #sorrynotsorry)
Aside from Juliana Haygert’s Breaking the Reins, which is about a show jumper and her elite polo players, and Molly E. Lee’s Edge of Chaos, about a wicked smart heroine and tornado-chasing hero, my bookshelf is all speculative fiction.
The Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. The Sword of Truth series. The Lord of the Rings series. The NIL series. And, of course, two copies each of Jurassic Park and The Lost World, both of which own my soul.
I would give my left kidney (for free!) for some NA books like what I’ve listed above. Give me ass-kicking vampire killing heroines. Give me sword-wielding high fantasy heroes and magical worlds with weirdo creatures. Give me science fiction that’s got me on the edge of my seat even though I’ve read the book approximately 1,682 times already.
Give me something like that in the NA category and, honey, my kidney is yours.
There is SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL, too.
KD Proctor talked in her NA August interview about future thinking and an “eye on the prize” mentality being trademarks of NA.
S. Usher Evans talked in her NA August guest post about NA being “about that strange period after you leave the nest when you realize that no one actually knows what they’re doing.” (Been there, done that. Ouch.)
Imagine getting struck with that “What am I even doing with my life?” feeling while charging into battle against the invading centaur army because, hey, the military is what your family wanted you to do, but is it what YOU wanted to do?
Imagine your “eye on the prize” being the lead researcher position at a company doing groundbreaking work in the field of time travel. How do you prove your innocence after you’ve been accused of plagiarizing a classmate’s thesis paper when, in reality, your classmate is the cheat?
But wait, there’s more!
Imagine that you’re a twenty-something kid from a tiny farm town on the outskirts of Fantasyland and you’ve just graduated knight school. There’s talk about you becoming the best damn knight in the realm, but there’s one problem: To do that, you’ve got to defeat the reigning champion, Lady Kickass. Worse yet, you’ve got the world’s biggest crush on her, so when you find out she’s your first opponent at your first tournament, you fail. In epic fashion.
After that, you lose your sponsorship from Lord Richguy, Sir Horseman of Horsetown threatens to revoke your right to ride Tiny, the best jousting horse in the land, and on top of it all, Lady Kickass has pretty much written you off as a challenger or suitor. Your future has just gone down the tubes, friend, and now you’ve gotta put it all back together or else it’s the streets for you.
(Great. I just gave myself another idea… And this is why I can’t get anything done.)
I want speculative NA books so, so bad. I’d even settle for some action/adventure or thriller stuff. Something reminiscent of Fast & Furious, maybe?
By limiting NA to just contemporary romance, despite how lucrative a genre it is, is also limiting NA’s reach, limiting its audience appeal, and limiting its chances of being taken seriously as a legitimate category, too.
Because if it weren’t for Juliana Haygert’s wonderfully respectful novel, I never would’ve given NA a second glance.
So, until speculative fiction is accepted into New Adult, I’m off to read Jurassic Park for the 1,683rd time, flip more rocks in search of respectful equine contemporary romance, and write my fingers off.
Would you like to see more speculative New Adult books? What do you want the most? (For me, more fae!)