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Ellen Hopkins & Abbi Glines on Writing for “New Adults”

by Amy Currier 04/08/2013

New York Times-bestselling authors Ellen Hopkins and Abbi Glines guest blog about the hot new genre, and divulge to readers about their experiences as new adults.

Author Q&A

RS: Describe what New Adult is to you as a genre and what are the key characteristics that distinguish is from YA?

AG: New Adult gives older readers the angst and drama the YA genre gave them but with older protagonist that are easier for them to relate to. It also adds the sexy that YA is limited in.

EH: YA is about that time in a young person’s life when they’re pushing away from their family, trying to develop a sense of self and purpose. New Adult characters have already escaped that place. They have a clearer idea of who they are and where they want to go. But how will they accomplish their goals? Relationships are deeper, and so can get in the way of forward motion. There’s more at stake, because the safety net is gone and choices belong to the characters alone. It’s an exciting time of life, but also scary as hell.

RS: What are the most important topics/themes you believe new adults need exposure to?

AG: The mistakes that can be made in love and life choices. Romance is a key element obviously, but there are other factors. The innocence of childhood and high school is over. It’s the time we decide what kind of adult we are going to be.

EH: The big choices for people in that age group. Career versus marriage. Lust versus love. School versus adventure. Friends versus relationships. Military service. Parenting. Survival, sometimes.

RS: So, why books? Why fiction? What power do you think stories have on shaping new adults?

AG: Books and fiction are the perfect escape. It allows you to get lost in a world of fantasy—a place where problems are solved at the end and promises of happiness leave you with a lighter heart. Everyone needs that break from reality. Although the stories are fictional, there are always specific characters that stick with you. New adult reaches an age that was looked over for years. You either read YA or adult books. There was nothing for that age group. Now that it’s available it continues to nourish that love for reading.

EH: Every author has a certain breadth of experience, which brings a unique perspective to their writing. Even if the author isn’t much older than his audience, that diverse experience allows his characters a different viewpoint than the reader’s, which in turn deepens the reader’s understanding of the world.

RS: Tell us about the most embarrassing/naughtiest/etc. thing you got into as a “new adult.” 

AG: Spring Break had always been a family vacation for me. However, my freshman year in college I experienced my first trip to Panama City Beach, Florida . . . without my parents. They had never allowed me to go without them until this year. One night I experienced the impact of one too many tequila shots. It was a first and last for me. I woke up the next morning with a tender spot on my ankle. Sitting up in bed I looked down to see a rose tattoo. It isn’t that I am against tattoos (I actually got another later in life while completely sober). It is the fact I didn’t remember where or how I got that rose tattoo. None of my friends remembered either and they all sported new tattoos as well. Needless to say, once I got back home I went to get tested for diseases I could have contracted from the mystery tattoo artist. Sad thing is . . . I don’t even like roses.

EH: As a child of the seventies, I considered myself most Bohemian. I went braless, frequented nude beaches. But about the time I entered “new adulthood,” I spent a little time on a commune in Oregon, the kind where everyone lived in teepees and used the wilderness for their toilet. One day I witnessed a woman wearing nothing but a sanitary belt and pad nurse her three-year-old. That embarrassed me all the way back to civilization.

RS: What were the three most pivotal books for you as a reader during the same timeframe of your life?

AG: Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. It allowed me to accept the complete absurdness that was my life most of the time.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. The fantastic romance, heartbreaking reality, and bittersweet ending will always make this book one of my favorite romance novels. It also inspired my desire for realistic romances and the beauty in a couple’s story, even up until the end.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I’ve read this book at least twenty times. I adore the entire series. The story behind how J.K. Rowling wrote this book and how it came to publication should inspire every writer out there.

EH: I was a diverse reader, so this one is hard. Probably The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey and Story of Oby Pauline Reage

Featured Titles

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Story of O by Pauline Reage

Story of O by Pauline Reage

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Never Too Far by Abbi Glines

Never Too Far by Abbi Glines

While It Lasts by Abbi Glines

While It Lasts by Abbi Glines

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