A Whole New (Adult) World

If you’ve visited my blog before, you might notice a few changes. Like the fact that I’m now labeling myself as a writer of Young Adult and New Adult. I haven’t given up on my YA projects, but I’m adding another category to my repertoire.

My decision was partly inspired by my discovery of New Adult fiction. Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed a lot of books in this category. It doesn’t hurt that many of the titles are readily available for my e-reader, perfect for those weekends when I want to curl up with a good romance. I also like reading about characters that are farther along in life than high school. They’re often in college or working at their first jobs, struggling to figure out what they want to do with their lives. They’re involved in intense romantic relationships that might lead to serious commitments. It’s a passionate, messy, exciting time.

The other reason I started writing New Adult is because it’s easier for me to draw on my college and graduate school experiences than my awkward high school years. All through high school, I was a shy book nerd whose only outlet was musical theatre. It wasn’t an easy time for me, especially since I went to one of those classic-1980s John Hughes type high schools, with all the requisite cliques. Once I started college, my life changed. I came out of my shell. I made new friends, joined a science fiction and fantasy writers’ group, fell deeply in love for the first time, and actually had adventures.

Working at Belmont Castle, Israel

Working at Belmont Castle, Israel

When I was nineteen, I went on my first archaeological dig, which set me on my career path. Instead of dreaming about becoming an archaeologist, I could actually be one. For the next seven years, I studied archaeology and art history in college and grad school. I was fortunate enough to travel and work on projects in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Given my background, I decided my New Adult stories should be set in the world of archaeology. For my first book, Field Rules, I chose to write about field school. It’s the perfect set-up: take 12 –15 college students, stick them in a foreign country, force them to live and work together for two months, and encourage a “work hard/play hard” mentality. Romantic entanglements are bound to occur! (And yes, I’m speaking from experience).

With one completed New Adult manuscript under my belt, I’m excited to dive into another. I’m having a blast reliving my experiences as an archaeologist, although it makes me miss my life in the field!

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8 Responses to A Whole New (Adult) World

  1. Happy Thanksgiving Carla! I can’t wait for the second book!

  2. Cheryl Yeko says:

    This sounds very exciting…

  3. PJ Sharon says:

    Awesome concept for a series! And perfect for the NA genre. I also write YA and NA novels these days. At first glance, it’s hard to tell where the murky dividing line is between the two. I get that NA is 18-22 year-olds dealing with the post high school issues of life, but books like HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES that has a 17 year-old heroine in her senior year of high school who loses her brother in the war in Iraq and then falls in love with his 19 yo best friend who comes back wounded, are stories that transcend the YA genre, but may not meet the NA requirements. Stories like this appeal to adult readers as well as teens and it makes it difficult for marketing purposes. I tend to list my books as YA/NA for that reason. They’re not your usual high school stories, but have teens going through real life, gritty issues and family dramas. What are your thoughts?

    • casacullen says:

      I think listing them as YA/NA makes sense. And since so much of NA fiction is digital, you don’t have to worry as much about where your books might be shelved in a bookstore. I think a lot of teens like books that skew older and deal with the grittier aspects of life.

    • I would think if the main protag is a high schooler that would be YA. Most YA books have additional characters who are older, so I don’t think the love interest being over 18 suddenly makes it New Adult. The only reason I say that is because it gets tricky when it’s YA-slash-NA. What is it then? NA to me is adults with more mature themes, and at least in its present format, mostly romance-focused.
      I guess we’ll see what pans out over time since the category is so new :)

  4. I’m doing both as well. Exciting time of life to write about. Love that you did the archaeological digs, and being able to draw from those experiences make your stories unique (which translates sellable). Looking forward to reading “Field Rules.”

  5. Can you recommend any New Adult books that you’ve enjoyed? Sadly, the ones I’ve picked up I’ve put down after 5-20 pages. I still have J. Lynn’s book on my shelf to read, but the other NA’s kind of burned me with poor quality writing, so I’m leery. Not to be a total downer, I really liked Jennifer Iacopelli’s Game. Set. Match. set in a tennis academy. That was a fun read and I loved all the sports detail.

    • casacullen says:

      I’ll have to admit I prefer New Adult books that aren’t set in the traditional college/frat setting. I enjoyed Spiral by Mila Ferrara, which was set in a hospital (it reminded me of the first season of Grey’s Anatomy, which used to be one of my favorite shows). I also liked A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers, which was set in Rome (one of my favorite cities), because of all the art historical details.

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