We’re celebrating New and Young Adult romance this month! I am honored to be asked to write an extra post for this theme. (My usual gig is the second Thursday of the month.) These age categories are my favorites, and I’ll explain why.
Young adult (YA) is usually defined as the teen years, when most kids are in secondary school and figuring out who they are. New adult (NA) is often defined as the period right after that, when young people are holding their first jobs, going to college, and learning to be on their own in the world. Both ages are full of drama and possibilities, especially in fiction. Add a little romance, and you have the perfect ingredients for a novel.
Depending on who I’m talking to, I often just say I write YA. But if my audience knows about NA, I will say YA/NA. In my Gold Rush books, there is a combination of YA and NA characters. Because of the time period, most of my teenaged characters are taking on adult roles earlier in life. Plus, there is not an obvious border between the two age groups then, so teens are spending time with what we might call new adults. In Quicksilver to Gold, for example, set back in 1900, Jeannie has never set foot in a school building, but today she’d probably be a senior in high school. The object of her affection, Clint, would have graduated high school already since he’s a little older. When they meet at their mining claims outside Nome, Alaska, they are both seen as adults. But when you see Jeannie’s emotional reactions to things, there is no doubt she is a teenager.
I write YA and NA because I remember my teen and college years vividly. I knew even then that it was a dramatic stage of life; I recall thinking that if I ever wrote a book, it would be set during that time. (No, none of my books are that close to autobiography, but you never know what I might write in the future!) For most of us, those years are an emotional roller coaster. Everything is important, and so much feels earthshaking. That’s built-in drama for a novelist.
While adults also enjoy reading YA and NA, I hope teens can use my characters as examples of what they might do with their own lives. If Jeannie can strike it rich with her mining skills or Charlotte can help create Denali National Park, why can’t our readers achieve their own dreams? I hope they will.
For more on why I write YA, see my video at https://youtu.be/rJDWwrSnXuMhttps://youtu.be/rJDWwrSnXuM.
Lynn Lovegreen grew up in Alaska, and still lives there. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in the Alaska Gold Rush, a great time for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com.