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!
Today, we’re interviewing KD Proctor, author of the upcoming IF YOU’RE EVER IN TOWN! She’s got a lot of interesting things to share about her thoughts on NA, and she has an epic recommendations list, so be sure to scroll down for that!
We sit down to chat with Kelley…
Tell us about your latest/upcoming book!
My debut NA Contemporary Romance, IF YOU’RE EVER IN TOWN, will be releasing in July 2017 with BookFish Books. It’s a second chance romance told in dual point of view through the eyes of Nate and Charlie (who is female). Three years ago, Nate and Charlie met while working together at a summer camp. They, along with four other friends, became a closely knit group, with Nate and Charlie falling hard and fast for each other. Unfortunately, after the summer ended, so did their romance. Now, three years later, one of the friends from their group dies unexpectedly and they all reunite back at camp to spread her ashes. Of course, it’s never that easy. Nate and Charlie discover that the love they had for each other has always been there, but new obstacles stand in the way of getting their happily ever after.
While the tone feels somber, it really isn’t. There are funny, laugh out loud scenes. There are swoony sexy moments (did I mention Nate is British and a bit of a player?). And of course, the tender moments of how each person deals with death.
How do you define NA?
I default to the Wikipedia definition, “…a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-30 age bracket.” The page also adds, “New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.”
To piggyback on that, I would argue that traditionally in NA, the cut off is usually 25ish. I will also add that New Adult tends to deal with “firsts” that are higher stakes and heavier themes. First REAL job out of college and learning independence. First REAL struggle of a dwindling bank account and mom and dad not floating you a loan. First REAL struggle of apartment searches (or even moving back home!) First REAL relationship hurdles like long distance relationships, engagement, etc. All of this has a strong emphasis on future thinking (“eye on the prize” mentality).
Why did you choose to write an NA book? What is it about the age range that appealed to you?
I am surrounded by college age students every day because….I work as a college administrator! Writing about 18-25 year olds is a natural fit (and no. None of my students are depicted in my stories.)
How does your book embody the ‘spirit’ of NA, if you believe there is one?
Breaks out the check list, compares it to definition above.
- Age of characters….CHECK.
- Negotiating career choices…CHECK.
- Eye on the prize…CHECK.
Of course…there’s the sexy times. CHECK. CHECK. CHECK. Ha!
Do you think NA books require certain elements? Do you think there are stereotypes that are not necessarily true for all NA books?
Absolutely. But my Required Elements List may not be what you think….
- Voice is a deal breaker—without it, you don’t have a NA book (or any genre for that matter).
- Future thinking—in NA books, the plot should have elements where your characters are thinking about what’s next (your “eye on the prize”). If the character doesn’t take that loan, the family business will crumble. She is this close to completing some ground breaking research and when she does, she’ll get that dream job.
- Characters need make mistakes…AND grow—this is critical for me. This is the age (18-25) where you’re encouraged to “live life while you’re young”–and guess what? We make choices that impact our lives forever. Some are good. Some not. But every choice we make forces us to grow. With out characters, we need to put them in situations where they are making choices that often lead to angst with the hope that they learn and grow from them. In NA novels, this happens not only once but two or three times before they FINALLY realize enough is enough. That growth is critical and we need to see it.
- If you have sex scenes, they need to be detailed–Yep. This is one of the ways that NA is different from Young Adult. Sex scenes have all the fun details.
On the flip side, my Stereotypes That Aren’t True List is as follows:
- Sex isn’t a requirement: That gasp you hear? Numerous NA authors disagreeing with me. *shrug* Listen. I get it. New Adult has been seen as “Young Adult with gritty sex”. But New Adult novels DO NOT HAVE A SEX SCENE REQUIREMENT. To counter that, though…many readers expect the sexy scenes. So, while a NA book doesn’t need sex to fall into the genre an author may have a harder time getting that book noticed by NA fans.
- NA books are ONLY Contemporary Romance: I think that Contemporary Romance has cornered the market in NA novels, but honestly—there are books out there that are Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Dystopian, Mystery, Historical, etc.
- Dual POV is standard: Yes. Most NA novels have dual POV. But it doesn’t have to have it. There are several NA novels with one POV.
Do you think NA has a negative reputation?
Sorta, kinda, maybe, not really. Depends on who you ask.
Agents will always be champions for well crafted books. But many are having a difficult time selling it to publishers. A lot of pitch contests on Twitter still use NA as a hashtag, and agents will request to see pages. But many have openly tweeted that they are looking to see if a manuscript’s voice can be brought ‘down’ (to Young Adult) or ‘up’ (to Women’s Fiction/Chick-Lit/Adult).
But here’s the thing: NA is selling through smaller, independent presses and online retailers like Amazon. Why does it sell there and not with the Big 6? I don’t have an answer for you. But readers love it and they’re buying it! Perhaps their influence will turn the tide?
What would you like to see more of in NA?
I want to see more realistic tropes in New Adult. As of late July, these are the books currently trending on Amazon for New Adult & College fiction: billionaire romances & sports romances (mainly hockey—which I LOVE). I want to be clear—there is NOTHING wrong with these storylines and I’ve enjoyed several.
But I’d love to see more realistic storylines: Rivalries between classmates…diverse characters…STEM representation for female characters….rival fraternity/sorority…academic cheating scandals…politics (maybe campus elections or bigger state/federal, too!)…stories dealing with current events…stories not involving college at all…etc. etc.
What has your experience getting published been like as an NA author?
In February 2016 I started officially querying agents. I also, though, queried one editor—not realizing that you shouldn’t query both at the same time.
I shifted my focus to agents. I had several requests for full manuscripts (which is so exciting for a first time query!). Slowly the responses started to trickle in. Everyone was incredibly nice and encouraging. I had a few who gave a simple, “Thank you, but I’m going to pass” responses. But the majority of the agents told me they loved my voice, I was a strong writer and they loved my plot, but they couldn’t sell New Adult.
That one editor I submitted to, BookFish Books, wanted to publish it.
I spoke to a few author friends about what to do. There were still some agents who had my manuscripts and I was told to be honest about the offer on the table. BookFish Books was also incredibly patient and told me to take a few weeks to follow up with agents. I did, and the response was the same—great voice, great writing, great plot, but NA is hard to sell.
I had to make a choice: shelve the book or publish it with the small press.
I wasn’t willing to shelve my book. The feedback I was getting was so incredibly positive. If New Adult is that difficult to sell, maybe a small independent press is the way to go? It’s a personal decision, of course. I can’t say that is the best option for everyone. But for me, I felt I made the best choice. The team at BookFish Books has been incredible, focused on quality not quantity. Everything has been incredible and I’m pleased with my choice.
Getting started in NA
Who do you think should read NA and why?
Many would say 18+ because it usually deals with sex scenes and heavier content. I, however, say if you’re mature enough for the content, download those books to your hearts content and read away!
What advice do you have for other authors who want to write NA?
If you’ve never written in the NA genre, first things first: read it. Download books in the genre and study the craft. Join the New Adult Bookclub on Goodreads where you can read/review books for free from new and established authors. You’ll see quickly what works well in the genre (and what doesn’t).
Second, don’t assume that every 18-25 year old person went to college. And those that don’t go to college aren’t in stereotypical roles like the dead end job, stay at home caregiver, etc. There are many successful people who are 18-25 without a college degree and are doing incredible things.
What sets YA and NA apart? What would make a book definitely NA?
Please repeat after me: Age is not the only defining factor for what separates YA from NA.
With that said, I’m going to share with you what Ava Jae (one of my favorite author peeps on Twitter) has said about the difference between YA and NA. She hit the nail right on the head and I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
YA books have:
- Characters that are still dependent on an adult
- Characters thinking about ‘the present’—how they feel NOW, how their lives are NOW, etc.
- Books are written for teenagers: Of course we’ve all read a young adult novel and loved it, right? But guess what? Teenagers are the target audience—so therefore the ‘stuff’ they deal with is teenage in nature.
- Sex scenes are not detailed: Lots of fade to black and glossing over it, with the emotional tied in.
NA books have:
- Characters that are independent
- Characters with a lot of adult responsibilities on their plate
- Characters are thinking about the future
- Higher stakes and heavier themes dealing with being an adult—first apartments, first time you bounce a check, first serious relationships that could lead to life together, being responsible for someone else, etc.
- Sex scenes are not only emotional but also very detailed.
Do you think publishers try to fit NA books into the YA section, and why?
Not at bookstores I’ve frequented. They’re usually shelved in with the adult fiction/women’s fiction section.
Sex in NA
Do you think sex is an integral part of NA? Why or why not?
Is it necessary? No.
Is it expected by readers? Yes.
Do you think sex is important to write about?
I think sex is a natural part of romantic relationships. Same with writing about sex. It isn’t taboo anymore and characters having sex is also natural and real.
Things have changed in the understanding and acceptance in the culture of hooking up. Back when I was in college (in the 90’s) it was perfectly acceptable for guys to have multiple partners, but if a girl did that? She was ‘slutty’ and the ‘walk of shame’ was something embarrassing.
As long as the sex is consensual, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
What should authors pay special attention to when writing sex in NA?
It is much more than “insert tab A into slot B.”
The best way for me to answer this question is to give you some homework: I challenge you to go to your favorite book and open it to your favorite sex scene. Read it. Now, go back and read it again with a critical eye.
Notice the details? Such as what the kiss is like, how the touch lights their skin on fire, what the release feels like. All of that is important and needed. But also look at the ratio of the touchy/feely (get it? ha!) details compared to the emotions and internal dialogue. A good sex scene balances it all.
THAT is what makes up a NA sex scene.
Do you think there is enough diversity in the genre, particularly compared to other age groups?
There can never be enough diversity in books. I don’t care what genre you write or read–there can always be more.
What makes a good sex scene? What makes a bad one?
A good sex scene makes you feel the emotion right along with the character.
A bad one? When it isn’t consensual, is abusive or the trope is creepy (like teacher/student, adult/minor).
Can you think of any authors who write sex well?
I’d take a “how to write a good sex scene workshop” from the following authors:
Brighton Walsh, Kelly Siskind, Elle Kennedy, Sarina Bowen, Monica Murphy, Colleen Hoover…
What’s next for NA?
What do you think the biggest hurdle is for NA to grow?
My personal opinion is that the biggest hurdle is acceptance for the genre. I don’t know if this is true or not (I’m totally speculating here) but maybe larger publishers have a hard time with it because they think it’s just a passing fad? Or maybe it’s the idea that NA is just “YA with sex and swearing” so publishers and potential readers sort of shrug and move on? I can tell you this: there are incredible NA books out there that are worth purchasing and reading.
Do you read NA? What are your favourite books? Who are your favourite authors?
I love New Adult!
My favorites list includes (not is not limited to):
- AJ Pine: WHAT IF (book 2 in a series, but this one is my favorite of the 3)
- Megan Erickson: The entire FOCUS series, MAKE IT COUNT
- Jennifer Blackwood: UNETHICAL
- Lia Riley: OFF THE MAP series
- Monica Murphy: The entire RULE BOOK series
- Brighton Walsh: The entire RELUCTANT HEARTS series
- Kelly Siskind: CHASING CRAZY, and the entire OVER THE TOP series (books 3 is pending)
- Elle Kennedy: The entire OFF CAMPUS series
- Ellie Cahill: WHEN JOSS MET MATT
- Sarina Bowen: The entire IVY YEARS series
- Colleen Hoover: MAYBE SOMEDAY, UGLY LOVE, NOVEMBER 9
- Karina Halle: SMUT
- Jessica Calla: SHE LAUGHS IN PINK
The most important questions
Dark, milk or white chocolate?
All of the above!
Though, I will say, my favorite chocolate: Galaxy from the UK. When I have friends going to England or if my UK friends are coming to the USA, I always ask them to bring me Galaxy. I then stash it in my freezer, usually behind the frozen veggies.
Tea, coffee or hot chocolate?
If I’m making it at home – with flavored creamer and sweetener
If I’m at my local coffee house – usually a flavored latte (my favorite is the Sea Salt Caramel)
About the bookIf You're Ever In Town by KD Proctor
Series: Second Chances #1
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Charlotte “Charlie” Conti has at least one thing going for her: her successful YouTube channel Savannah Shabby is being considered for a possible DIY TV show. After mourning her sister Gwen's death, she deals with the turmoil by jumping head first into creating new video content to impress the network executives. That is until she learns Gwen is dropping the ultimate challenge: travel to Scotland with him to spread her ashes. The same him Charlie dumped three years ago.
Nate Walsh’s luck has just run out. He was on the verge of completing his thesis when he learned his funding has been cut, putting the chance of a prestigious fellowship on hold. And traveling to Scotland with his ex-girlfriend, Charlie--the same girl he can't seem to get over--isn't making this trip any easier. In instructions Gwen's left behind for Nate, she predicts Charlie will find a way out of this trip. But if he can get her to come along, Gwen will donate her $25,000 life insurance policy to his research grant.
Forced to reconnect and spend more time together, they fall into a familiar routine, eventually discovering the love they had for each other is stronger than ever. But as they inch closer to their dream careers, Gwen's scheming ways churn up fears of repeating disastrous past mistakes that drove them apart the first time. Nate and Charlie must decide if they want fear or love to win out, and are they ready to live with that choice forever.