Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NA vs YA with Lisa Burstein

Lisa Burstein, fellow YAtopian and YA author of the brilliant Pretty Amy and soon to be released Dear Cassie, sat down with me for a chat about her latest release, a New Adult novella called The Next Forever.

1. You've just released a novella, what is that really and why did you choose to do a novella and not a novel?

Well, it was a story that takes place over one night- so it really lent itself to the shorter form. I've also never written a Novella before and wanted to see if I could do it. Just because it's shorter, I don't think it's easier than a novel. If anything it is harder to tell a full- character arc in a shorter amount of pages.

2. What makes your novella NA where Pretty Amy is YA?

Amy and Joe are in college. They are older and have college-age problems: decisions about what they want to do with their life and if each other should be in it. There is also sex in The Next Forever and the furthest any of the characters go on the page in Pretty Amy is making out. I think you can "see" the difference on the choice of covers for each book. LOL

3. Did you make any conscious decisions about content when writing for the NA rather than the YA market?

I knew I had to make it sexy, meaningful. I tried very hard to have the feelings the two characters have for each other come across as "adult". I think in a lot of ways when you are in college you almost act more adult just because you feel like you are supposed to be that way.

4. Do you prefer reading YA or NA? How about writing - YA or NA?

Hmmm... good question. I like reading both, but I think I prefer writing YA. I have a teenage girl inside me who still has a lot of things to say I guess. What I like about writing NA is how freeing it feels. You don't have to worry about swearing, or sex, or drugs or drinking. All of those things are expected because it is in college. In YA, that stuff can be a little hard to navigate with your editor.

5. I know Pretty Amy stirred up some discussion because of the issues presented in the book. Do you think YA books should carry warning stickers or age ratings much like films do for violence, sex and language etc.?

No, I certainly think parents should educate themselves about what books are about and if they feel they are inappropriate for their children they have a right to say so, but there is something about books. It is hard enough to get some teens to read, why limit their choices with ratings.

6. Dear Cassie is due for release soon, could you tell us a little bit about that?

It follows Amy's best friend Cassie to a rehabilitation retreat in the woods and is told in diary format. It is a love story, but also a story about learning to forgive yourself when you feel like you've done something horrible. I can't say what the horrible thing is though ;). It would be a spoiler.

Thank you Lisa! Dear Cassie will be available from March 5th but you can add it on Goodreads already over here.

For more info on New Adult - what it is and what it isn't - hop over to the NA Alley for a list of great NA reads and publishers who are accepting new adult titles. While the new adult tag is still widely and sometimes hotly debated by authors, agents and editors, this category-come-genre is definitely an emerging market and one worth keeping your eye on if you're a fan of slightly more adult, young adult stories.

Have you read/written any new adult books? Do you think we even need this category?


  1. Many readers have called Summerset Abbey New Adult because the women are the right age and are discovering what's next. Because I write YA, my voice also skews younger, so I think perhaps the tone also factors in. It wasn't marketed as New Adult, but I can see where readers might take it as such, even though it's historical. I think NA is a really interesting concept and I can't wait to read The Next Forever!

  2. We definitely need this category/genre! One, because I love writing it;) and two, soooo much happens between high school and your thirties when you have everything all figured out. There's that sense of freedom you have to figure out what to do with, learn how to make your own choices. It's definitely an area many people will relate to.

  3. I love the whole emerging category of NA. The characters and emotional places they go are so fascinating to me.

  4. I love NA books :) I definately think it is a catagory that is needed. I run the New Adult book club over on goodreads and if you like NA books i would suggest you check it out

    Laura @Bookish Treasures blog

  5. Thanks for mentioning NA Alley, Lisa.