Why I Decided to Write “New Adult”
No, New Adult is not fresh porn. It’s fiction aimed at a very specific age group, 18-25 years old, people who are too old for Young Adult but are still reading for fun and adventure. Many of this age group are fighting their way through university, establishing careers and courting mates. It’s that fantastic time when your whole life is ahead of you and anything is possible.
Many of my friends were surprised when I announced that I intended to publish N.A. vampire military novels instead of the my epic novel set in Afghanistan during the war with the occupying Soviet Red Army. After all, I researched it for a decade, starting with a ridiculously hazardous trip in 1988 to witness the end of that war, back when I was still a new adult myself, and a crazy one at that. I think my friends were concerned that I was abandoning a literary writing career for something less serious, less important. My Afghanistan novel might never have been nominated for the Booker prize, indeed it probably would have been dismissed with a sniff as too violent, but somewhere along the way it might have been considered. My friends clearly thought I was abandoning all chance at being an important literary voice. I agree.
But a couple of things changed my focus. First, some unspeakable people flew a couple of jets into the World Trade Center, and Afghanistan, my private research project, my area of knowledge, became top news, and not in a good way. Before I knew it, anchormen and women who had never heard of Afghanistan were talking about Kabul and Herat as if they had always been able to pick them out on a map and hadn’t just been desperately reading Wikipedia.
I still intend to publish my epic, my life’s work, but it simply has to go away for while. That’s life.
The Second fact that changed my mind came from my membership in the Crime Writers of Canada. They’re a great bunch of writers, but many of them are very suspicious of e-Books. In fact the hostility to Amazon and e-Books in general is at times stunning. I’m happy to say that this is not a uniform view. Some of the more adventurous ones did leap into e-Pubbing and have been rather successful, but it was my first indication that the baby boom generation ahead of me were going to be surprisingly conservative when it came to e-readers.
More importantly, I discovered that readers over fifty years-old don’t like change. I was at the CWC desk at Toronto’s Word on the Street in 2010. One woman, not old, maybe sixty, came over to look at the Kindle and the Sony eReader I had on display. I answered her questions about them, and I thought we were having a nice conversation, when she suddenly announced, “But I’d never buy one.” The distain implied that I was suggesting something equivalent to buying a handgun or an erotic novel like 50 Shades of Grey.
Today, vindication came from a panel at Digital Book World that included Jane Dystel . She’s one of those agents I’ve been following since the 90s because I wanted her to represent my epic when it was completed. I have a great deal of respect for her opinion. She’s also one of the early adopters of eBooks and ePublishing. She’s definitely not one of the Luddites. So what caught my attention? The consensus of the panel is that the genres that are the most successful in indie-pubbing, which today means e-Pubbing, are romance, young adult, and new adult–books the next generation read, people who find the scent of plastic just as pleasing as binding glue and mould.
So for indie e-pubbing, I’m in the right genre. I’m well into my fourth book, and whether I’m an important literary voice doesn’t matter, because I’m really enjoying my work. Getting up in the morning is very easy.