We spotted this post on Bookish.com’s Romance page, and they’ve graciously allowed us to share some of it here on XOXO After Dark! The complete article can be found at Bookish (link at the bottom of this post). Enjoy!


by Natalie Zutter for Bookish.com


“Losing It” by Cora Carmack. “Beautiful Disaster” by Jamie McGuire. “Reflected in You” by Sylvia Day. In the past year, New Adult novels have moved from the self-publishing realm to the forefront of major romance publishers, with their varied readership eagerly following. Thanks to word of mouth, these intense stories of first love between emotionally damaged characters in their mid-20s are filling a vacancy in the romance genre.

“I view New Adult as really bridging that gap between traditional young adult and contemporary romance,” says Margo Lipschultz, senior editor at Harlequin. “Until a year ago, you didn’t find easily available stories about kids in college who are experimenting with that newfound sense of liberation but also the heightened responsibilities that accompany it.” Generally, the heroine is 18-24 years old, while the hero is 18-26. “A college setting is common but not mandatory,” says Pocket Star editorial director Lauren McKenna.

Now that major publishers are releasing New Adult novels, many more contemporary romance authors are trying their hand at this liminal genre. What’ll you get when reading New Adult? Bookish spoke with top editors and authors to pinpoint New Adult’s key characteristics.

It’s all about the angst

A term that comes up often when discussing New Adult is “angst.” While angst has gotten a bad rap in the past few decades as it’s been equated with whiny teenagers, editors and writers think more about its original German meaning of “fear or anxiety.” Claire Zion, editorial director at Penguin’s imprint NAL, characterized angsty NA protagonists as “people in very real, kind of dark situations,” often due to alcoholism or abandonment. “They’re not glamorized at all, which romance often is. I don’t think that they’re exaggerated bad situations; they’re very real to common American experience. A lot of teens are growing up in broken homes or mixed families. Their parents have troubled pasts. People want to write about it, and people want to read about it.”

While situations in New Adult lit seem more dramatic than in real life, they stop just short of being over-the-top. Avon editor Amanda Bergeron cites Lisa Desrochers’ “A Little Too Far,” which kicks off with the heroine sleeping with her stepbrother before leaving for study abroad–then, in her guilt, falling for an almost-priest who’s only months away from taking his vows.

“What’s fabulous about New Adult is often these authors are taking such risks,” Amy Pierpont, editor-in-chief at Hachette’s imprint Forever, says. “It’s such a dramatic and emotional read, and it’s such a dramatic and emotional time of life. Everything is monumental; there are no molehills, there are only mountains to be climbed.”

Author Rachel van Dyken (“The Bet”) had two contemporary romances and about 16 regency romance novels under her belt before she tried her hand at New Adult. “I love angst,” she says, “and I love being able to write characters out of their current issues and bring them into maturity.”

With that maturity comes dramatic emotional stakes that surround those who’ve just left their teenage years. “These people are so young and they’re setting out on their own for the first time and feeling that first blush of love and that huge hormonal reaction,” says Day, contemporary romance author (with an avid New Adult following) and President of the Romance Writers of America. “Your love was insane–you can’t stop thinking about them, you’re calling each other all the time… All of that–that whole overblown sense of drama–is what’s in New Adult.”

“I love NA because it’s evocative,” says “If You Leave” author Courtney Cole. We can write about relatable storylines–issues that 20-somethings really have to face–and we can do it without toeing that YA line of propriety. We can get as gritty as the story takes us.”

Learn more about what to expect from the New Adult category when you read the full article “What Is ‘New Adult?'”on Bookish  HERE.

Interested in other Bookish romance features? You might like these…all available on Bookish.com!

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Elin Hilderbrand Selects Best Beach Books for Summer Reading

Mary Balogh’s Favorite Tortured Heroes