Sep 16, 2011

Where YA meets Adult ~ Guest Post with Nicki Elson


I’m delighted to welcome Nicki Elson, author of Three Daves, to the blog today.

Jennifer Whitney was the last American virgin. At least that’s what she felt like in 1986 as she began her sophomore year at Central Illinois University. She was proud of her decision to wait for the right guy, and yet she was getting restless. It seemed like everyone around her was doing it... and having fun doing it, too.  She didn’t want to become the campus slut or anything, but surely there was a difference between a trashy skank and a nice girl with a little experience. Perhaps it was time to stop relying on fate to guide her and instead take matters into her own hands.  And with that realization, Jen decided to find “the one” and lose her virginity, although not necessarily in that order...



I write YA fiction and Three Daves is marketed towards Adults. Around the time I read Three Daves we got talking about the line between YA and Adult fiction. Where is that line exactly? Or is there one Exactly. Here’s how it went:

Nicki: When writing Three Daves , a Chick Lit/ Romance set on a Midwest college campus, I was acting out of pure inspiration and didn’t give a thought to publication until it was finished. Therefore, I hadn’t really planned ahead for which genre it would fall into. Okay, how about a more brutally honest answer—I had no idea how many different genres were even out there! I simply wrote what I wanted to write without consideration for marketing.

I did, however, think while writing that the story might be good for girls in their upper teens to read before becoming sexually active. I’m not saying the book contains any sort of ultimate wisdom or anything, just that it offers up a unique perspective on the balance between being a good girl, and, well, being human. So I wrestled with one particular issue—fade to black or no? I went with no for reasons described in my very first blog post ever, but the bottom line is that getting into the detail of the sexual encounters was right for the story. And so the Young Adult/Adult decision was easy—Adult.

But then I started to wonder…are there other things in Three Daves that keep it from being Young Adult? I came to our friend Carol to find out, and she was immensely helpful. Here’s what she has to say:

Carol: I agree with you that this is absolutely a coming of age story. Even so, the industry standard for a YA protagonist seems to be cut off at 18 regardless of content, although a few are now starting to sneak through. Mainly though, a YA story should deal with the issues faced by teens moving from childhood to adulthood. Generally readers read up in age. It's expected college students will read adult books. The YA main character is kept below 18 so the YA reader can relate better. Although, we all know none of that is strictly true.

There is a new genre called New Adult, currently only used by St. Martin's Press. YA, New Adult, MG... it's all basically for marketing and who the book will be directed at. I think I would consider my books New Adult or Young Adult Crossover rather than YA because of the age of the characters, but since Omnific Publishing doesn't market New Adult it ended up in YA. I've also seen my books described as upper YA.

Three Daves slightly steps over the line with the description of the sex acts. But the scenes could have been left in with a little editing. The discussion of sex, drugs and drinking as well as swearing is all acceptable in YA.

The rule of thumb for authors on YA threads is anything real teens do is okay to be included but it all comes down to the guidelines of the publisher. Some publishers are more inclined to push the boundaries than others. For example the 'F' word is included in Ember. At a few points in the story one of the guys is aroused, another time the female MC mentions him 'pitching a tent'. One of the angels has the ability to elicit euphoric sensations in both men and women, and the description is similar to how someone might describe orgasm. I think I'm probably walking a fine line a lot of the time with what is generally accepted in YA but that type of content is not limited to my books.  

Back to Nicki: Thanks, Carol! And thanks for your recent review of Three Daves (you'll notice I've gotten a spiffy new cover since then).

Carol: And thank YOU for stopping by. I love the new cover. If you’re interested in "New Adult" Chick Lit/Romance, Three Daves and other school-related titles are only 99 cents in Kindle, Nook, eBook, and ePub until September 30 as part of the Omnific Publishing Back-to-School Sale. If you’re a book reviewer, A Tale of ManyReviews has just opened up sign-ups for a Three Daves paper book tour.  Have a great weekend!


  1. I really like the New Adult category and think it will catch on because it's something that's needed. Best of everything to Nicki and Three Daves! Yay for Central Illinois! (esp as a setting for a novel hehe)

  2. I never knew there were so many genres either!

  3. Very useful, ladies. I wrote a recent guest post exploring the same ground of YA vs. A but without the knowledge/expertise of a published YA author. Upper YA is one of the most interesting time periods for me. The transition from high school to college was exciting and groundbreaking for me, and college was so much fun, that I'm drawn to that age. Perhaps that's why I like both of your books so much!

  4. Hey all, thanks for stopping by. And thanks again, Carol for having me over and for all your great insights. I agree on that the "New Adult" age is interesting and especially transitional---a needed category, indeed (to add to the list of others that Alex and I don't know, haha).

    I read your article, Jen and it was so cool to look at at the psychological differences between adults and young adults. Hey---look at all us great minds thinking alike. ;)

  5. Mark Twain advised those who would write for children or teens to write a story that even an adult would enjoy. C.S. Lewis advised much the same thing.

    Adults read JK Rowling for enjoyment as well as the kids. The focus I think is to be honest in your approach with humor and restraint.

    I tried that with YA epic fantasy and with my YA urban fantasy. Following Mark Twain and C.S. Lewis can't be all bad. LOL. Roland

  6. Hi, Carol,

    It's nice to meet you. I dropped over for Nicki, but it's always nice to meet another blogger.

    I never heard of this term/genre... it sounds perfect. My newest novel might just fall into that genre because of content not age. The mc is seventeen. But we shall see where it all leads.

    Great post ladies... Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Thank you everyone for stopping by and for your input. Thanks again Nicki for the post and for writing a wonderful story. :)