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 is our final interview of the month, and we’ve got none other than Pat Esden, author of The Dark Heart paranormal series! Dani has already reviewed both books on Dani Reviews Things, and she can seriously recommend it if paranormal is your thing or something you want to try.
We chat with Pat Esden about NA
Tell us about your upcoming book!
I’m so excited. My NA paranormal novel, BEYOND YOUR TOUCH, comes out on today! It’s the second book in my DARK HEART series. Annie, the main character, is drawing closer to Chase and things definitely are heating up. But there’s some huge road blocks ahead for them.
See more about the book at the end!
How do you define NA?
New adult is a category of fiction that is told from a point of view and with the sensibilities of someone who is between nineteen and twenty-six-years-old.
Why did you choose to write an NA book? What is it about the age range that appealed to you?
When I wrote A HOLD ON ME and signed with my agent, it was upper YA. The main character, Annie, was eighteen and I consciously thought of her as being in some ways experienced for her age. When my editor at Kensington phoned to discuss her thoughts for revising the novel, she suggested the series might work better as NA—with the main character aged up to twenty. It was like someone had handed me the final piece to a puzzle. There was very little revision necessary to make A HOLD ON ME new adult and it became what I’d intended from the start. Honestly, I suspect several of my previous unpublished YA novels are also NA novels crying out for makeovers.
I think writing about this time in a person’s life appeals to me because I love the sense of being on the cusp of adulthood, the exhilarating and sometimes terrifying place where you’re taking the first steps into total independence, but still aren’t fully integrated into the day to day rhythm of adult life. I love the experimentation, curiosity, and bold steps combined with not always mature decision-making, the joy-filled successes and overwhelming failures. Emotions at that time of life feel raw. I love the temptations of being on your own for the first time and also the range of first time experiences, the loneliness and heart break.
How does your series embody the ‘spirit’ of NA, if you believe there is one?
The entire three books in my Dark Heart series take place over the span of a one-month period. At it’s very core, beneath the adventure and paranormal goings-on, the novel is about Annie moving emotionally away from a very close and loving relationship with a father and stepping into what just might be a long time relationship with a man. It’s also about her learning to form her own opinions of estranged family members, instead of relying on what she’s grown up knowing. It’s about Annie finding her own tribe and deciding what and where she wants to be.
Annie also isn’t the only character in the series who embodies the NA ‘spirit’. Her cousin, Selena, is eighteen and her personality is on the border of moving from being ‘young adult’ to ‘new adult’, though she has more wild tendencies than Annie. Similarly, several guys in the series are going through new adult issues.
Do you think NA books require certain elements? Do you think there are stereotypes that are not necessarily true for all NA books?
Since NA is a category and not a genre, I think having a main point of view the proper age range is the only thing that is required.
I personally don’t like the term college-age for NA because this gives the false impression that it has to be about people who are or have attended college—and that leaves out a vast range of life experiences and limits diversity.
Do you think NA has a negative reputation?
Perhaps. I think the biggest issue is that a majority of readers aren’t aware that NA as a category exists, though most are aware of YA. Then there is a large group who believe NA means ‘hot college romance’. I wouldn’t say it has a negative reputation as much as a limiting one.
What would you like to see more of in NA?
Diversity in life experiences. Characters from unique backgrounds organically mingling in unusual situations. Perhaps a breakout literary NA that will stay on the bestseller list and make a broad range of readers aware of the category. Well written and unexpected.
I’m not going to say too much more because I tend to write what I’d like to read J
Do you write other genres/age ranges?
I’ve had a number of historical fantasy novelettes published. The publishers categorized them as adult fiction. But the main characters were in the new adult range and the stories were told with new adult sensibilities and reactions.
I also had a story published from the point of view of a middle age man and I do enjoy writing YA.
What has your experience getting published been like as an NA author?
I’m very thrilled and proud to be a published NA author. I can still market my novels by their genre, but it gives me the freedom to explore a new category as well. I love being able to introduce readers to the category. Now that I think of it, perhaps the exploration, freedom, exhilaration, and fear of writing in a fairly new category of fiction has similarities to the experiences of being twenty and stepping bravely into a world filled with new possibilities.
Getting started in NA
Who do you think should read NA and why?
Anyone from a mature sixteen-year-old and up. Younger than that, the books probably should be vetted by a parent.
If you’ve written multiple NA books, which one would you recommend to people who are getting started with NA?
I’ve written several NA paranormal, but they are in the same series. So I’d recommend starting the first one: A HOLD ON ME.
What advice do you have for other authors who want to write NA?
Read a variety of NA novels, then read upper YA novels and actively think about the differences. Try the same thing with a few adult novels that feature main characters between the age of 19 and 26. Especially pay attention to the differences in the point of view, storytelling techniques, and the experiences of the main characters. I recommend you take notes while you read, seriously.
What sets YA and NA apart? What would make a book definitely NA?
I’m on the team that says a 19 years-old main character makes a book NA instead of YA. It’s a simple way to make the boundary between the categories clear to people purchasing the books. And, yes, I understand there may be exceptions. I firmly believe Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL is technically NA.
Do you think publishers try to fit NA books into the YA section, and why?
Yes, I think this happens because YA is a huge popular category with established spaces in physical bookstores and online, as well as in libraries and such. It’s easier to sell a book when it’s placed in a YA section. The exception might be established YA author who’s written a notably more mature and explicit series.
Sex in NA
Do you think sex is an integral part of NA? Why or why not?
Yes. I think sex is a focal point of relationships and self-esteem in the new adult age range. But that doesn’t mean the characters have to have sex in the book.
Do you think sex is important to write about?
Yes. But I don’t believe all NA novels need to be focused on sex. It can be a part of building a character without it being in the forefront of the novel’s plot.
What should authors pay special attention to when writing sex in NA?
Personally, I prefer in showing characters practicing—or at a minimum being aware of–what responsible and consensual sex is. And choices, I believe in showing that there are choices when it comes to sex and that all are equally valid as long as the choice is made freely. Having or not having sex, has emotional and physical consequences.
Do you think there is enough diversity in the genre, particularly compared to other age groups?
I think there’s room for more diversity, but I also think YA and NA categories are moving forward in this area, perhaps faster than adult fiction. Hmmm. I could be wrong about the adult fiction. Across the board there seems to be a growing movement in this area.
What makes a good sex scene? What makes a bad one?
Good sex scenes seamlessly fit in with the rest of the novel, blending with the plot, tone, pace . . . every aspect of the story. Bad sex scenes feel jammed in and take the reader out of the flow of the story.
Can you think of any authors who write sex well?
I enjoy Jennifer L. Armentrout’s sex scenes. 🙂
Beyond the contemporaries
Why is it so difficult to find New Adult books that aren’t contemporaries?
Adult historical novels—particularly romances– have always featured a lot of main characters in the new adult age range and quite often with realistic sensibilities. My guess is that publishers would rather stick with the proven ‘adult’ category for marketing reasons. Why try to shift a fan base of buyers to a new category when it’s already established elsewhere?
What can we do to encourage the growth of NA SFF?
I think the first step is to continue to explain what the new adult category is to people outside of the publishing and writing world. From there, I think the growth of NA SFF will come naturally. More panels about NA at SFF conferences wouldn’t hurt either.
What’s next for NA?
Where do you think NA is going?
I don’t think NA is going to fade anytime soon. I think the biggest expansion is going to be in diverse NA romance and NA SFF adventures where the action/adventure is the focus rather than the sex.
What do you think the biggest hurdle is for it to grow?
The general reading public not being aware of what the NA category is—or that it exists, for that matter.
Do you read NA? What are your favourite books? Who are your favourite authors?
I read a wide range of new adult, both well-known authors and debuts. I’m actually not going to give specific recommendations. Since this is NA August, I’m going to recommend checking out novels written by the participating authors. Read snippets on their blogs or on bookseller’s sites. You may be surprised by some of the amazing up and coming authors and series.
Here a link to my website so you can get a taste. http://patesden.com
The most important questions
Dark, milk or white chocolate?
I can’t have them all? That’s just plain cruel. Okay, maybe caramel milk chocolate Hershey kisses.
Tea, coffee or hot chocolate?
I drink strong, hot coffee first thing in the morning. Maybe iced coffee or iced tea later on. Hot black tea in a porcelain teacup is my favorite for the afternoon and evening. Right now, Dunkin Donuts’ Almond Joy iced coffee is my favorite treat.
About the bookBeyond Your Touch by Pat Esden
Series: The Dark Heart #2
Published by Kensington on August 30th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
She wants more than he can promise.
His desires could lead to betrayal.
But without each other, neither can survive the dangers ahead.
Annie Freemont knows this isn’t the right time to get involved with a man like Chase. After years of distrust, she’s finally drawing close to her estranged family, and he’s an employee on their estate in Maine. Though she never intended to stay on the estate for long, her father’s illness and the mysteries surrounding her family made leaving impossible. And now with the newfound hope of rescuing her long-missing mother, Annie’s determined to be involved with the family’s plans one way or another.
If only she could keep her mind off Chase and focus on the impending rescue. But there’s something about the enigmatic Chase that she can’t resist. And she’s not the only woman. Annie fears a seductive stranger who is key to safely freeing her mother is also obsessed with him. As plans transform into action and time for a treacherous journey into a strange world draws near, every move Annie makes will test the one bond she’s trusted with her secrets, her desires—and her heart.