Capturing the New Adult Voice - 2014 RT Convention

New Adult has quickly blossomed into a full-blown, uber-popular genre, and many authors are turning to it for new ideas and projects. But capturing that college-age voice can be rather tricky. Sophie Jordan, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cora Carmack, Kristin Cast, Jamie McGuire, Veronica Rossi and Tammara Webber gathered at this year’s RT Convention to share their thoughts on the genre and provide valuable insight on how to tap into this audience and mindset.

photo of the panelists

The lovely panelists!

Sophie started the discussion by asking the authors to discuss voice and whether it’s organic or not. Cora immediately said that it is in fact organic and “that’s my voice.” Jennifer added that because she writes both YA and adult romance as well, it is easier to “hold that middle ground” that New Adult is built on.

“I didn’t know what NA was when I wrote Beautiful Disaster,” said Jamie. “I just wrote for the age I wanted the story to be for.”

“What was hardest for me was switching from the third-person past tense … It was a weird tone shift, but voice-wise it wasn’t too difficult. It wasn’t any different than when I write [different] characters,” said Veronica Rossi, whose is writing New Adult as Noelle August.

When asked about the differences between writing YA and NA, Jamie said, “My voice is softer when I write YA.” Cora considers her YA projects more “idealistic” than her NA work. “When you’re a teenager, you can’t wait to grow up. In NA, it’s … like, bam, you’re a grown up,” she explained.

Another major topic of discussion was including pop culture references in books, which readers of NA age often use in real life. All of the authors agreed that a slightly more general reference can make a story, while a more specific one can break it by potentially dating the tale.

Sophie also asked the authors which movies or TV shows most accurately represent their books. Cora and Veronica both said Fox’s New Girl is a great one because of how awkward and quirky Zooey Deschanel’s character is. But for Cora’s newest book, All Lined Up, she said Friday Night Lights is the best reflection.

Kristin surprised some readers by saying NBC’s Grimm is most like her books because of how dark and fantastical it is. Along the same lines, Sophie loves MTV’s Teen Wolf, particularly Dylan O’Brien’s character, Stiles.

Overall, this panel proved to be an intriguing and well-received discussion that gave readers and aspiring authors a better sense of what the NA genre is, along with some insight into how to write a successful NA story.

We'll be covering the RT Convention in New Orleans all week long, for more on the exciting happenings, click here!