In writing Freshmen Blues, I’ve stumbled into knowledge of a burgeoning genre—New Adult.
Before digital publishing, stories about people in college didn’t sell all that well. Publishers couldn’t find the market. Now, though, the New Adult genre—stories about people navigating life after high school—has finally begun to take off. People can read all about the dorm life adventures of various characters between the ages of 18 and 22.
I’m having a ton of fun writing Freshmen Blues. Chris Taklo is the epitome of the uncertain college student who’s not sure if he really belongs there, and his quest to figure out his talents and maybe even land Frederick in bed sums up a lot of the conflict often found in New Adult novels.
Of course, I write M/M. Oftentimes that means erotica. But in a story with so much self discovery, detailed sex scenes aren’t at the forefront. It’s there, as is the sexual tension, but it’s going to be a long road with a lot of twists and turns. In a New Adult story like Freshmen Blues, as a writer and reader I’d rather have plenty of plot and development before heading straight into the sex. There are plenty of erotica novels that take place in college that have the requisite amount of sex, but Freshmen Blues feels more like a New Adult novel than a pure erotica novel, and in my mind the themes of New Adult don’t necessarily lend themselves to straight up erotica. New Adult is about finding one’s place in the world, and while sex is a part of that, it’s far from the only part.
On the other hand, there's no real reason not to mix the two genres. There isn't the age consideration that goes into Young Adult, nor is there the audience consideration, as the people reading New Adult are typically older teens or adults themselves or are older adults who are reflecting back on their lives in college or after high school.
But what do other people think? Would you rather have New Adult stories with plenty of sex wrapped up in the self discovery? How erotic do you think New Adult should be? Do you want to see Chris getting it on with Frederick or Skye as soon as possible, or do you prefer the slow burn?
In sum, do you think New Adult and Erotica can be simultaneous genres the way Erotica and Sci fi can be, or are they a bit too different? Could there be a New Adult version of Debbie Does Dallas (Debbie does Dartmouth?) or would that violate the themes of New Adult?