Lisa Burstein

This Be Where I Blog

YA isn’t NA: How Increased Sexuality in Books is Changing Genre Expectations

on June 2, 2015

I feel like before I start this post I need to mention that in addition to writing Young Adult, I write New Adult. I also write erotic romance under a pen name. I am not against having graphic sex in books, BUT I am against having it in every book.

I started thinking about this because as someone who writes in several genres, I have readers in several genres. There is a huge YA contingent of readers who want to read books about young people finding their way, but I feel like some of that has started to change a bit. In fact I’ve experienced it.

I had a few comments about my latest book wondering if it would have a larger audience if it was written as an NA, with people over eighteen. I may be projecting, but I feel like part of the reason for this is that it would have the possibility for on the page sex. The characters in my book DO HAVE SEX, but it is fade to black and implied. I could have written their sex scene. I could have made it five pages long and filled it with all sorts of words and innuendos that would make some people go blind, but I didn’t. I chose to make it fade to black. I chose to make it YA.

I started publishing three years ago and it seems like within that time sex in books has become expected. People want to read about sex and sexual situations and I understand why. Its fun to read and sexy and titillating, but I also feel like now there is this pressure to meet a certain sexuality level in all books. And if you don’t reach it, people wonder how much more popular your book might be if you did.

It used to be that NA was the genre trying to break-out, but now I feel like YA is turning into a “this would be so much better if..” type of genre. That makes me sad. But more than that it makes me angry. I wrote Mia & The Bad Boy as a YA because I wanted it to be a story about TEENS. What teenage girl doesn’t want to fall in love with a rock star? What teenage boy can handle the fame and pressure associated with being a rock star? How would two people from different worlds with parental pressures that compel them to act the way they do be able to escape some of that together? These were the questions I wanted to answer.

As an NA this would have been a completely different book. A completely different story. And that’s fine, but it wasn’t the one I wanted to tell this time.

I write on the page sex in some of my other books, so the fact I didn’t in this one was a conscious choice. Much like a real sexual situation it should be up to me how far I am comfortable going book by book. Just like as readers it’s your choice whether to read NA, YA or a grocery list. BUT if you choose to read a grocery list, perhaps don’t wonder why it isn’t a TV Guide.

2 responses to “YA isn’t NA: How Increased Sexuality in Books is Changing Genre Expectations

  1. kellion92 says:

    Great post. Not a rant but 100% sense.

  2. bereksennebec says:

    Like this a lot. Put a link to it on my Facebook page

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