where the New Adult genre meets inspirational fiction

lauriegradYou think you know.
(But you have no idea!)

I was so excited when the lovely and brilliant collaborators of The Writers Alley posted an article about the emerging New Adult (NA) genre yesterday. While this genre has burst onto the scene in bookstores and its self-published authors are experiencing tremendous success, the CBA market has been slower to introduce New Adult titles.

When I was a new college grad eager to read for fun again after spending four years with my nose in literary anthologies, I got really into inspirational fiction’s offering for my age: chick lit. I gobbled it up and still love it, whether it’s recognized as a legitimate genre today or not. But even though I found these books entertaining, the characters weren’t precisely relatable in my current position. The feisty heroines were all around 30, established in their careers and designer stilettos, simply awaiting Prince Charming as the final puzzle piece to make their lives complete.

Meanwhile, I was grasping at straws about what I was going to do with my degree, learning that expensive piece of paper didn’t guarantee a job by any means, and realizing firsthand that the dollar doesn’t stretch as far these days.

I became aware of a huge chasm in the Church. There are books, magazines, church services, Sunday school classes geared toward teens and college students. But what about the New Adults? They’re stuck in an awkward transition between teen and adult, trying to find their place in the real world, dodging sometimes harsh realities, many shouldering responsibilities with new weight and significance for the first time.

It can be a lonely place.

So that’s the heart behind my first manuscript in a very condensed nutshell. My prayer is that it will encourage people during a very confusing transition of life and point them to the Lord for hope and wisdom when it seems every decision has the power to make or break their future.

The emergent church has made great strides to accommodate this age group in recent years, especially with a pointed focus on community/Bible study groups and the explosion of inspirational nonfiction writers and blogs. So it’s time for the Christian fiction scene to get on board.

One published author I would definitely identify as the pioneer of inspirational New Adult fiction is Erynn Mangum. In fact, a recent USA Today article reviewing her latest novel, Paige Torn, says:

I’ve heard this book referred to as YA {Young Adult}, but the ages of the characters argue with that assignment. Paige and her friends are college grads — so, if anything, this is inspy’s answer to the evolving New Adult category of romance lit. If so, keep it coming, inspirational publishers!

When I had the chance to meet literary agent and publishing guru Chip MacGregor, the first thing I asked was whether it was wise to bill this manuscript “New Adult” as I begin pitching it. His answer? An enthusiastic “Absolutely.”

Hopefully Christian leaders and publishers will continue building their efforts to reach out to New Adults in this very pivotal time of life.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I loved this, Laurie! NA is a genre that I am really excited about. Like you, I think there is such a need for it and I can’t wait to see how fast CBA gets on the bandwagon. If Chip says to use that label, then I’m sure we are on our way!

    • Thank you, Sherrinda! I know the addition will lead to great things.

  • Traci Nix says:

    Can’t wait to read your New Adult book!

  • I’m so proud of you! Ready to quit my job and be your roadie! xoxo

    • You know I’d love to have my BFF by my side the whole way 🙂

  • I love Erynn Mangum. Wasn’t sure exactly where she fits.

    So, Laurie, what’s the age range for characters in NA? Do they by and large need to be recent college grads?

  • Great question, Sally! What I’ve heard is that New Adult applies to anyone who is coming into the “real world” and leaving the safety of childhood/innocence for the first time. So this can apply to high school grads/dropouts who didn’t go to college, too. I think it’s more of a mentality than a particular age. If we’re stretching it, I bet even 30-somethings who left the nest late or are just digging out of the hole of grad school academia would fit, too!

  • I would add those who have a career change, or lose a direction or job might gain from your story. I love this post Laurie! 🙂

  • Laurie, I’m so pumped to find you. Thanks for chiming in on the conversation among the ACFW. I’m writing with you and praying for open doors for this genre in the CBA. Exciting times!