A Beautiful New Genre

Why I Love New Adult Books (Even Though I’m in my Mid-30s!)

by Tara Bond

Tara Hyland 18.12.14 www.sheilaburnett-headshots.com

You may not have heard of the term New Adult. A relatively new and fast-growing genre of fiction, its origin is linked to St Martin’s Press who, back in 2009, launched a search for: “fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult — a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.”

If you’re still confused, a typical New Adult book will feature a protagonist aged between 18-25, who is making their way in the world for the first time – essentially learning what it is to be an adult. It is meant to encompass a wide subset of genres – from paranormal to dystopian – but at the moment is definitely dominated by contemporary romances. College and first job settings are very typical, and you can expect a large amount of … uh … bedroom action, shall we say? And if that definition isn’t sufficient for you, then I’d advise you to check out this New Adult Alley blog post, which explains it in far more depth.

Given everything that I’ve said above, I might not seem like the kind of reader that New Adult books are aimed at. I’m in my mid-30s (just about!); University is a distant memory; I’ve had so many career changes that I can hardly remember my first job; and I’ve been in a relationship with my husband for almost twenty years. But back in August 2012, I read my first New Adult book, and I’ve been in love with the genre ever since.

It was almost three years ago that I was browsing Amazon, when I happened to see a novel that had a huge number of great reviews. It sounded like something I’d enjoy, so I went ahead and bought it. That book was Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. Jamie McGuire was one of the earliest New Adult writers, and Beautiful Disaster has – pretty much – come to define the genre. It’s the story of a good girl who has just started at a college, and the campus bad boy who tries to win her heart. It’s fun, intense and utterly escapist. I loved every second of reading it!

sliced strawberry on a champagne coupe glass. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

Desperate for more of the same, I started looking for similar books by other authors. Over the next few months I read the likes of Tammara Webber, Samantha Young, Colleen Hoover and Christina Lauren (to name just a few). I was slowly getting addicted.

I’ve tried to work out why the genre has had such a huge impact on me. I think it’s because of the intensity of the feelings in the book. Most of these authors have a knack for creating off-the-chart chemistry between their lead characters, and you find the emotions bursting off the pages at you. Maybe it’s also to do with the age range of the characters – that first flush of adulthood is such an exciting and exhilarating time. It’s fun to relive that, even if it is a distant memory.

It was in August 2013, as I devoured Abbi Glines’ Fallen too Far, that I suddenly thought – if these books are so much fun to read, wouldn’t it be fun to write one, too? That was the day I came up with the idea for my first New Adult book, Beautiful Liar. My main character, Nina, has severe trust issues, courtesy of growing up with an alcoholic mother, and we follow her journey as she starts falling for the most untrustworthy guy you’ll ever meet.

I had so much fun writing Beautiful Liar, and I hope that readers will love reading it just as much – even the ones who haven’t been exposed to a New Adult book before. Probably, like in most cases, the genre matters more to publishers than it does to readers, who are just looking for a good book. And I just have to hope that there’s an audience out there who will consider mine to be just that – whatever their age is.

Tara Bond grew up in Surrey, England. She read History at Cambridge University, before working in various sensible office jobs. She lives in London with her husband, and loves reading and writing, as well as watching movies and TV box sets. Her guilty pleasures are cocktails and chocolate desserts. Beatuiful Liar is out as an ebook this month and as a paperback in July.

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