I got started in writing due to Janet Dailey. She was my hero and, to a large degree, my mentor.
But this isn’t about her but rather what she did to romance and what part of history applies to New Adult! Read on…
I can only dream of having the longevity and talent needed to drive my 3 million romance and women’s fiction book sales to even remotely come close to her 100 million plus in sales. I don’t think she is given enough credit for all she did to completely change the publishing industry. Janet was known for adhering to the conventions of romance fiction — one man, one woman, happy ending. But her books broke the mold because they featured independent women who weren’t simpering virgins waiting for their rich prince to sweep them off their feet, plus they were set in America rather than in the old-world Europe of traditional romances. Janet was the first American writer published by the Toronto-based Harlequin publishing empire and her new bold changes became the foundation of the industry to this day.
Why do I bring this up? All genres go through an evolution not unlike the romance genre did starting in the 1980s. Romance was still always the major plot, but suddenly the characters had real lives with a back story and careers. The romance (i.e. the man) wasn’t all that defined them.
My husband and I just attended the #TexasWriter’sLeague annual Editors and Agent’s Conference where we paid super close attention to the speakers, discussions and meetings that surrounded the New Adult genre. I noticed that there is still a lot of confusion about exactly what the NA market is and what the audience wants. The one thing that is clear is that it is evolving, just as romance did, into something more substantial than just bad boy meets good girl, which has been the norm up to now.
After the Saturday sessions ended and before we got back to working on book #2 in the SCANDALS New Adult Series, KILLER DATE, we set out to see where the evolution in the genre is today. Surprisingly, we found numerous blogs, surveys and discussions about new adult literature and how it is finally moving from books focused on New Adult angst to solid stories where the protagonists are in their new adult sweet spot, age 19 to 25 who have more than just boy troubles. Why deal with just that one element of the complications of transition that most new adults are going through?
Now we’re talking…don’t just saddle the poor new adult characters with relationship baggage. Let them actually deal with college, family, jobs, roommates, housing and finances. Let them struggle, but ultimately survive and succeed in the story. How “new adults”, born between 1989 and 1996, will propel a story set in 2014 forward is what makes a story great and if told and written well, will deliver a best seller.
Of considerable note I came across the blogging of Lauren Sarner at the #Huffington Post and her 2013 blog on new adult books. I loved it and it summarized very well all the blogs and reviews and face-to-face discussions I’ve had for long time. She wrote that “New Adult is a new genre whose target audience is people like me–young twenty-something’s, overwhelmingly of the female variety. A New Adult book is basically a Young Adult book with sex and cursing thrown in. A typical plot line features two brooding, damaged souls with damaged pasts (typical examples include characters whose entire families have tragically died, characters who have grown up in abusive homes, characters suffering from manic depression or panic attacks) who meet, sparks fly, and drama ensues. The books are often titled something like “Damaged” or “Broken” or “Smashed with a Sledgehammer”
She notes she may have made that last one up, but she was sure it exists somewhere.
Lauren continued. “New Adult is a label that is condescending to readers and authors alike. It implies that the books act as training wheels between Young Adult and Adult. For the New Adult books that are particularly childish, the label implies that they are a step above Young Adult–which is insulting to the Young Adult books that are far superior. For the New Adult books that are particularly sophisticated, the label implies that they are not worthy of being considered “adult.” It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.”
She closed with a challenge for me, as a writer of three series currently…a YA Time Travel Mystery, New Adult Suspense and Romantic Suspense, and it should be for all writers of the NA genre. Lauren explained, “Books are supposed to expand your world; expose you to people, places, emotions, and ideas you might not otherwise experience. Suggesting that you need training wheels for such a thing is like suggesting that a child needs training wheels to walk. You’ve just got to do it. Good fiction is supposed to hold the mirror up to reality, regardless of the genre–and reality does not have training wheels.”
So my challenge is not how to write a NA novel that is actually an entertaining book where the characters can be brooding or damaged, but there is more going on in their lives than wondering the if boy is going to call. That was my goal when I created the New Adult SCANDALS series. Book #1, DUES DATES, has the usual female and male relationship issue, but her life didn’t start and end with him. They both have baggage, but there’s a real world going on around them that they also have to deal with that adds complications, drama and humor. A new adult’s life is not just about male/female relationships, but about their relationships with everyone around them.
Now my challenge is crafting the blurb and discussions about DUE DATES to attract the New Adult reader with the typical relationship of brooding, damaged souls, but then capture them with the complications of being a new adult in a complicated world.
That’s why the title of the blog is …and yes it is a total rip off of the intellectual capital of Lauren #Sarner at the #Huffington Post. It’s time for the NA genre to move to the next level that deals with young people that are not just defined by romantic relationships, but have dreams and problems and friends and lots of other things impacting their lives.
So I’m proud to be ahead of the curve with of our two training wheel-free NA novels.
Our current New Adult series, SCANDALS, book #1 DUE DATES was released a few months ago. Find DUE DATES at http://www.amazon.com/DUE-DATES-SCANDALS-Kathy-Clark-ebook/dp/B00GQC1S3O/
An inheritance brought her more than she ever could have imagined…
Killeen Ames has it all…beauty, brains, a college softball scholarship and a rich and handsome boyfriend who has helped to stretch her college funds and fill her social calendar. He is the only boy she ever allowed past second base and now he’s her baby daddy. However, being a father was not in his short-range plans. He graduates, then he splits, leaving Killeen to decide what she wants to do about the pregnancy…and to worry about how she’s going to keep her scholarship. With no marketable skills, no job, no home and medical bills for her and the baby on the horizon, she knows she must move forward. A knock at the door of her boyfriend’s apartment changes the game forever when an attorney gives her the news of an inheritance from an unknown dead relative and another due date looming.
After traveling to Austin, Killeen walks into the meeting and is surprised to find out that the relative was actually her birth father, and he had been a popular music star who recently died of an overdose. Even more shocking are the four strangers who share the same absentee dad. He has left them a highly successful private investigation agency, Scandals. The catch is…they have to make the commitment to work there.
Their introduction to the P.I. business almost gets them killed when a bomb goes off in the warehouse that sends Killeen to the hospital. She has kept the secret of her pregnancy from everyone, including Christopher, the totally irresistible manager of Scandals. Their hot night of wild sex in the office was a one-time thing…right? She chalks up her attraction to him as just raging hormones. They have no chance of a future together. He’s gorgeous, intelligent and successful. He would never want anyone with so much baggage.
Christopher has a secret of his own. He’s been investigation the possibility that, despite popular opinion, their father’s death hadn’t been an accidental overdose. He thinks it was murder.
Even though the five siblings still haven’t accepted the fact that they have a father who made no attempt to be a part of their lives, they join together to discover the truth about his death. The search throws Killeen and Christopher together and their passion grows hotter. As her feelings for him slowly become more serious, she knows she must tell him about the baby.
After a fun day in the sun, an event happens that outs Killeen’s secret. Christopher, as expected, doesn’t take the news well. But they must continue to work together to track down a killer, especially since the killer has now focused on them.
Someone doesn’t want them to stay and take over the business. In fact, someone wants them all dead and now the decision on whether or not to be a part of the agency seems very unimportant compared to the job of trying to stop from being killed.
They set up a trap that goes terribly wrong. Suddenly, Killeen must make a big decision. Who should she save? Her baby? Christopher? Her new brothers and sisters? Their lives are in her hands.
Due Dates is the first book in the Scandals New Adult series of romantic suspense. Each book of the series will focus on one of the offspring of Roger Elliott, a famous musician who left them with a legacy they weren’t expecting. Killer Date, the second book in this series will be released in Summer, 2014 and will tell Reno’s story.
Life’s What Happens is a 1969-1970 story told in flashback, where the super bowl of angst plays out and life in college when failing a course could land you in a war on the other side of the planet, brooding, sparks and romance flew in between classes, relationships, graduation, career planning and finding draft loopholes that would soon be shut. Find Life’s What Happens on all the usual book seller sites including Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/LIFES-WHAT-HAPPENS-Kathy-Clark-ebook/dp/B00A14STPS/