The questions we asked:
- Do you agree or disagree with the different categories for young adult and new adult?
- What type/theme of YA/new adult, or even a specific title, would you suggest as a starting platform for a reader interested in exploring the genre?
- Have you had a very influential YA title and/or author?Please tell us more…
- What do you predict is the next big YA theme (e.g. Vampires, Greek mythology, etc)?
- Tell us what you would include on your own YA book cover.
Question One: Do you agree or disagree with the different categories for young adult and new adult?
GC: It’s interesting to see how popular YA has become that we now have to find a category and correct age group to fit into this genre. Truth be told, I would have to disagree with this new debate, given the fact that I fell in love with reading again because I picked up a wonderful YA series and have not been able to put books down since then. My room is my own little library and I get to look at my books, run my hands across their spines and remember why I love that series so much and what that particular author gave me from their novels. Why does this all-consuming shelf need to have a label? Surely FICTION and NON-FICTION are enough? I’m 28 and find that I can relate to topics in YA and even the characters. At the end of the day it boils down to what you love reading, one shouldn’t be judged for that.
KA: I use both terms interchangeably; in my defence I do know the difference between the two, and have to agree with the definitions of, and differences between, “New Adult” vs “Young Adult”. It is a very exciting time to be reading; the choices readers (and now teens) have at their disposal is colossal. I always remember being labelled ‘a reader’ – well, ‘a nerd’ – and, even then the books that packed my shelf were Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and J.K Rowling. The last ‘YA’ series I read as a budding young adult on the cusp of greater readership was Harry Potter, and from there I took a giant leap to authors such as John Irving and Marian Keyes – I didn’t graduate properly from reading at high school, the issues and characters were vastly different from my own situation at the time. This is where the “New Adult” genre can coax readers to the proper level, ground them for bigger reading, give them the channels to express and digest their emotions, situations and surroundings. Viva “NA” vs. “YA”
TF: For me, I’ve always thought that Young Adult fiction and Teen fiction are rather interchangeable. In industry-speak terms, I think that YA fiction can best be described as a genre that is aimed at and marketed towards adolescents.
It’s also a fictional category that features protagonists who themselves are adolescent. Because I view every teenager as falling under the youth group, I see YA and Teen fiction as being one and the same.
What are its requirements and restrictions?
Having said the above, I do think there are different levels of YA fiction, some of which many would consider inappropriate for the age bracket between 13-15 years of age.
I’m definitely not big on the idea that there should be any form or restrictions and censorship regarding the genre, but do believe that in some cases and based on subject matter, there should be rating guidelines as some topics are very triggering.
And what about “New Adult”?
I’m rather ambivalent about this genre. In many ways and in technical terms I still see it as YA, given that college students are actually (and for the most part) young adults. However, there’s a part of me that feels that this category was created solely to allow for more risqué content.
In YA, while there’s definitely been strides made regarding the inclusion of so-called taboo topics such as sex, drugs, self-harm, abuse etc., there are many people that still feel as if these subjects are too inappropriate for the genre – something which I vehemently disagree with.
New Adult, on the other hand, is a genre that features college-aged protagonists and sees all of the above-mentioned topics explored more openly. It’s a category that has also often been described as being the sexier version of Young Adult fiction, given the more in-depth sexual situations often depicted between the characters.
Frankly, I’m actually not all that sold on the genre as yet. Given my experience with some of the books, I’ve often felt as if I’m reading the same book – except with a different cover.
I know there probably are some good ones out there, but I’ve yet to have some luck with this genre.
Question Two: What type/theme of YA/new adult, or even a specific title, would you suggest as a starting platform for a reader interested in exploring the genre?
GC: I have so many titles that ― to be frank― start with ‘love at first sight…’ (which there is nothing wrong with), but change is a breath of fresh air. To receommend a first book for someone’s shelf I would go with Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. I was captivated by her writing from the first sentence, you lose yourself in her words, and time means nothing when you’re holding one of her books in your hands. This particular series carries drama, suspense, love, betrayal, inner turmoil and anything else she can get into a book she will. I found that STARCROSSED had me on the edge of my seat until the last page, and I was left thinking “How?” If you want that gripping book that leaves you grabbing for the sequel on your shelf, then Angelini’s books are the ones to go for.
KA: This is an incredibly tricky question – however, I do love a good challenge – there are some great teen reads populating bookstores at the moment but for the early tweens, try anything by Enid Blyton, let your imagination play even if you think you’re too cool to ‘play’ childhood is supposed to be fun. For the just-in-high-schoolers, try the Spud series, Harry Potter, Geek Girl series, Timmy Failure, books by Eva Ibbotsen and books by Chris Riddell – time to show your reading notches loud and proud. When it comes to the settling-in-the-teens veterans grab a copy of The Princess Bride, Josephine Angelini, perhaps even a Sarah Addison Allen. Let me know how you fair with those – if you need more, you know where to find me.
TF: This one’s a tough one to answer. Given that there’s so many sub-genres within the main category to choose from, I think it would be best to start off with the kind of books you prefer reading.
If you’re a fan of fantasy, it would probably be a good idea to start off with books like The Mortal Instruments series, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (it’s one of my personal favourites) or Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.
For fans of contemporary YA, I’d highly recommend The Sky is Everywhere, a novel that is at once a book that deals with grief and the burgeoning awareness and sexual awakening of a young girl struggling to deal with everything at once.
Also, my recommendation list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Fault in Our Stars – in fact, I actually think that this book would probably be one of the best places to start.
I could go on and on, but I think it would be best to actually create lists of recommended reads for each sub-section within the genre (something I would be happy to do).
Question Three: Have you had a very influential YA title and/or author? Please tell us more…
GC: I’ve come across a few great authors and each of their books has left a mark on me. However, one particular author and her work have stayed with me (hard to believe, considering that I joined the craze ‘late’, compared to the rest of the world). I’m talking about Cassandra Clare. She has a flare for writing and taking her readers into a different world where you don’t know what is happening but feel at home there. Cassandra’s series are filled with all of the ingredients for a good book; love, revenge, forgiveness, discovery, hate and so the list continues. I’d like to share what I took away from her work; never give up on what you believe, keep dreaming your dreams because you never know when they will come true. Also, to love with everything you have, because you only have one life.
KA: There will always be one book that sticks in my mind as the very first book I read cover to cover. I had read many, but this one just held steadfast that unrelenting achievement – I still kick myself for letting the copy go. The Kayaboeties by Elana Bregin – a lovely story of a group of kids who enter themselves into a band competition; purely South African, touching on issues of race and the blindness of kids to skin colour, to the incredible notion of striving for something you want so badly. If you can get yourself a copy, do!
TF: Oh absolutely. I’ve had a spate of titles that have really made a huge impact on me, but the one that has really stood out for me is Melina Marchetta’s On the Jellicoe Road. I think one of the biggest reasons I keep going back to this book, is because it deals with issues of death, abandonment and finding your identity and sense of self in a world filed with hurt, misunderstandings and emotional turmoil. It’s s a book for the disenfranchised and for those who feel like they’ve lost their inner map and have no sense of direction. It’s a book that also teaches you that sometimes you’ll find yourself in places you never expect to and that friends can be borne from the most difficult of circumstances. Mostly, it’s a beautiful book about coming full circle and embracing everything you are – no matter how flawed you deem yourself to be.
Question Four: What do you predict is the next big YA theme (e.g. Vampires, Greek mythology, etc)?
GC: The next big thing in YA will possibly be Mermaids and their world in the deep blue ocean. I’ve been doing some research and there seems to be a few titles surrounding this myth. It’s going to be an interesting topic to tackle and people may wonder how can there be a vast number of books with this particular topic, but it’s nice to see that different takes that will come to be and how each author will explore this. I’m looking forward to this myth creating a path through my imagination.
KA: We have seen it all, well sort of. There is mythology, sparkling vamps, killing vamps, crazy time warps and dark alternate universes, to magic realism and angel descendants. I can’t say I have any predictions, but I do see an uprising of what noobs are calling ‘issues driven’ YA – this is the contemporary fiction genre spilling forth and blurring the lines of adult and young adult. For instance, The Fault in Our Stars which tells the story of a group of teens dealing with love, heartbreak, and cancer – step aside magic wands, it seems teens (and adults) are looking to delve deeper into real life than fantasy.
TF: Mmm… dystopian fiction has been all the rage for a good while now, but lately I’ve also been seeing a huge spate of modern adaptations of fairy tales.
I’ve been reading a fair share of this lately, and it’s a trend that I think is definitely beginning to make itself more known (something which makes me happy given that I’m a huge fan of fairy tales in general).
Question Five: Tell us what you would include on your own YA book cover
GC: Who knew creating your own YA cover could be this difficult. I can feel the beads of sweat trailing down my forehead as I ponder this question. It feels like too much pressure…. Light and dark to contrast the elements and turmoil that my characters will go through. The main characters to be silhouetted on the cover each facing a different direction indicating their paths that they will have to travel in order to find each other and overcome the obstacles and possible easier paths that are available. The right path isn’t always easy to find.
KA: You really are not letting me off easy, here are you? For my very own YA cover – but, wait? Are we allowed to judge a book by its cover? Hehe. My cover would have a plain background – a light colour – with a stark but meaningful illustration, something different, something that you pick up to just see ‘What the heck is this?’. That would be my cover.
TF: I’m a huge fan of myths, legends and all manner of fantastical creatures, so I’d imagine my cover to have some sort of gothic and leafy look, with winged creatures and silhouetted, sinister and life-like trees. Much like Jackson Pearce’s Sweetly actually.