New Adult (NA) Fiction: Dark, Bloody… and Occasionally Sexual?

I write dark fiction.

That is my answer to anyone who asks me for a general classification of my writing. But things never end there: readers want to know specific genres and what audience my stories are intended for. The easiest—and most accurate—thing to say would be that most of my fiction is not meant for children. Psychologically matured teenagers? Yes. Mature young adults? Sure. Forever young old souls? You bet your experienced behind.

A reader, who had yet to explore AlmaMia Cienfuegos and Other Stories, wanted to know why the short collection wasn’t “labeled Young Adult or Children Literature. Isn’t the main character younger than 12 y/o?”

If you’ve read AlmaMia’s stories, you already know that the depths and darkness of the tales’ motifs are not meant for too young or too impressionable minds. The person who made the inquiry is reading the stories now, so I’m waiting for his, oh-I-see-what-you-meant, email.

Thorn in Red is a bit different… Okay, a lot different. Even I had some issues placing Mattalina and Bran’s story in a specific category. She is about to turn seventeen and he is eighteen. They are very close to their parents. The families work as a team and depend on each other. This could place the first novella in the series under the Young Adult sub-genre, or even Coming of Age. But I see Matt and Bran as too grown-up for their young ages. Also, the plot forces them into some very adult situations. Take this passage, from chapter twelve, as an example:

“I readjusted my position on top of Bran, until I found an angle that set my line of sight directly in front of the full moon that was taking shape over one side of the gateway. Sighing, I said, ‘Is it always like this?’         
Bran stopped rubbing my back. The rest of his body tensed. ‘Sorry, Matt. I’m not exactly used to being naked in the woods, and with you like this.’ He swallowed. ‘I swear I’m not a pervert, but my body really likes you. I like you. A lot.’
His words didn’t make sense to my ears. Not right away. I was too enthralled by the way the leaves continued on their steady path towards crimson. Then I felt Bran’s meaning pressed firmly against one of my legs. I went very still. My face was on fire. My heartbeat so fast, hard and loud that I was sure Bran could feel its thump, thump, thump hammering against the muscles of his abdomen.” ~ Magaly Guerrero

Scenes like the one above convinced me to think of Thorn in Red as Coming of Age and New Adult (NA) fiction. A writer friend told me, “Your mains [characters] haven’t even left mom and dad yet, they are not in college, they aren’t looking for jobs. It’s Young Adult Fantasy with a little romance in it.”

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. My friend makes a lot of sense, but I don’t agree with his conclusions. Bran is no longer in high school, and Matt will soon be in the same situation. They are reaching that point in life where teenagers begin to see that they are members of a family—with responsibilities!—not just children being raised and taken care of by adults.

What would you call Thorn in Red, my Wicked Luvs? Young Adult, Coming of Age, New Adult, something else… why?

http://www.amazon.com/Thorn-Red-Magaly-Guerrero-ebook/dp/B00HGEPC56

23 comments:

  1. Wouldn't 'coming of age' be the same as 'young adult'? Nothing wrong w/Young Adult.. Coming of Age sounds like it doesn;t want to commit to 'Young Adult'...How about 'Inspiring Works' (?) :-)

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    1. "Coming of Age" implies that somewhere in the story (the series, in this case), the reader is likely to meet the adult character. This is not necessarily true for Young Adult fiction.

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  2. Young adult works for me. Remember the old days, when the publisher made such decisions with no input from the authors?

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    1. Young Adult seems to work for most of us. I've tagged the book as New Adult. We'll wait a bit and see if anything happens.

      Those old days...

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    2. Love New Adult! 'Young Adult' makes me cringe.

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  3. Okay! As soon as I start seeing " pigeon holing" going on My minds voice starts going...lalalalala
    I'll have none of it! As soon as you mention to peter puberty he' s not old enough to watch, see, hear ( for Susie it's starts earlier!) or drink something ...bang their all over it!
    So if you must play the labelling game ( warning, warning, ). ...I would suggest a disclaimer to
    " whoever is in charge " of the eyes, mined and heart of reader . " Not for the Impressionable, Puritian who faints at the suggestion of violence or blood". and stay away from the 6 o'clock news as well!

    Love your old crone fan!

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    1. "Not for the Impressionable, Puritian who faints at the suggestion of violence or blood. and stay away from the 6 o'clock news as well!" Hahaha!

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  4. While I do understand the need for genre categorization, I almost never pay any attention nor, give any credence to some else's opinions of that I "should" or "might like to". Maybe literature would be better served with something akin to movie ratings and coding. It the words are sexualy explicit - tell me, if they are replete with bloody gore - tell me, if every paragraph has at least one obligatory use of the f-word, I might like to know that, too. But I have no use for the current categories. I read what I want to read.

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    1. Eilora, the voice of calm! I agree! xoDebi

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    2. They are supposed to work kind of like the movies, but somewhere along the way things get a bit wild.

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  5. The age of the character is completely irrelevant to the marketing of the writing. That goes double for the writer and their story, AlmaMia being a wonderful case in point. It's not a children's book, it's a book about a child. In other words, kids have wonderful books with as the main character, adults have challenging novels with a child as the protagonist. (Anyone who is a 'young adult' ought to get out of that horrible marketing niche and read books meant for grown ups. It's part of growing up) Adults who enjoy reading need to go and read all those fabulous, wonderful, transformative children's stories they didn't get around to as a kid. ( Humm. Maybe I should make that a blog post, with a list? And prizes.)

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    1. Well, bollocks, Missed out a word. :P Should read "In other words, kids have wonderful books with an adult as the main character"

      As you were. There's nothing to see here.

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    2. Content should rule. Yep. *spends a lot of time trying to use the word "bollocks" and then decides to just write it*

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  6. 'They are reaching that point in life where teenagers begin to see that they are members of a family—with responsibilities!—not just children being raised and taken care of by adults.'............................This sums up exactly where my nearly eighteen yr old daughter is at this very moment. She lives at home, has left school but is in college, has just recently acquired a boyfriend - about to turn nineteen - also at college and suddenly she/they have become responsible and no longer 'need' (according to them) taking care of. Rooms get cleaned, washing finds it way to the machine, food gets prepared by her not me and they are discovering the delights of , how shall I put it, more 'adult' activities *cough* *cough* !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thorn in Red, to me, would definitely come under the heading of NA perfectly. On the other side of the coin, for my not yet 13yr old daughter who reads voraciously and is, in some ways, more grown up than her tender years would suggest, Thorn in Red would not be suitable and placing it even under the heading of YA would not be appropriate. She has read other YA books and they differ in content a lot,from Thorn in Red.

    But hey, just my humble English opinion! I think perhaps it would be easier, if the book had a checklist on the rear cover perhaps, so although it could be under the heading of YA there can be visible info advising specific contents - ie: violence,sex,explicit language etc etc so kids/parents could make an informed choice. Interesting and def food for thought.

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    1. You know what? I like the idea of adding the bit about violent content and implied sexual situations. I will work on it...

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  7. I hate that question. What do you write? It's an innocent question, but immediately forces you to decide who you are as a writer and for me that changes day to day. I say "I write all over the place" or "grownup children's stories". I don't know where the hell Mabel will go on a Kindle genre list. I think New Adult and Dark Fiction is honest and true, though. But I do sympathize with the dilemma.

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    1. Well, dearest Narrator, if you want to sell something (especially to a publisher) you need to start finding ways to answer that question. Not just that, but also what books your work resembles while, of course, being completely different. I agree with what you said about "New Adult and Dark Fiction" being honest. It's what they read like to me... Then again, some have labeled my writing as horror *sigh*

      About Mabel Bunt, I would say label it whatever they labeled A Game of Thrones, but without so many people dying in it (right?).

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  8. Gosh you have so many categories over there! I would just say it is "aimed at 16+. Contains some graphic violence and tastefully handled sexual realisations"....I loved that scene you quoted....sweet innocence/embarrassment and apologies...just like many young peoples first experience with the "physicality" of relationship :D XXX

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    1. It's madness out here. "Contains some graphic violence and tastefully handled sexual realizations." I like! I might have to steal your words, um.. quote you, yes, I meant quote you. *cough*

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    2. I think Gina said everything perfectly ;o)

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    3. She has a way with words, our Gina. And with CWS (Cackles Witchy Style). ;-D

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  9. I think the book is appropriate for 16+. Kids today, and even when I was that age, just aren't as protected from this kind of media the way they may have been previously. Forgive me for this, because you know that I consider you leaps and bounds better at what you do that the author I'm about to mention, but I think the Twilight series shows, and even Fifty Shades of Grey, that kids are reading about this stuff daily. I doubt I'd aim it for teens younger than 16, though.

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    1. 16+ seems like a great idea. It is difficult to "protect" children or anyone else for that matter from what is so readily available, but we can at least warn them...

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