Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ghosts and New Adult Fiction: A Match Made in Ectoplasm

Recently, I was quoted in Barbara Binn's blog about YA and New Adult fiction. (Here's the link if you're curious ) The article was fascinating to me, and not just because she used my name! It was because she raised the idea of a "New Adult" sub-genre within the YA genre. I'd never heard of the category before, although I sure know about the stories. New Adult, as defined in her article, features young people who are older than the traditional YA protagonists: NA stories are concerned with kids in college or even just after college, and their transition into adult society. I had no idea I was writing New Adult: I thought I was just writing stories of the paranormal.

But it made me stop and think. Yes, my stories tend to involve ghosts and other unexplained phenomena. And yes, my characters tend to be older than the high-school ages of most YA books. And wow, suddenly I find that I am not alone.

I thought about the sort of television show I am likely to watch on TV: Celebrity Ghost Stories, Paranormal Kids, My Ghostly Encounter, and when I can, Ghost Hunters International. And I wondered who their target audience is. People like me, who can't get enough ghosts into their lives? Or kids? From listing what I like to watch, I then went to listing what's being offered out there for the YA audience. Sure, there are things like Gossip Girl, but there are also The Vampire Diaries, Being Human, Lost Girl (new), Supernatural (my fave!), and Fringe. In almost all of these shows, the characters are in college, or just graduated. Aha! New Adult.

Remember back in the '80's when stories about that age group were things like Less Than Zero, St. Elmo's Fire, and Bright Lights, Big City? Lots of older young adult angst, very little paranormal. Apparently, the target audience in this day and age cut their teeth on Harry Potter, was offered Twilight, and we've all progressed from there. Paranormal is on the collective brain.

And the kid in me says, AWESOME! All of my life I've looked for the paranormal in fiction. A true ghost story aficionado, I went through some hard times as a writer trying to get published when ghost stories went slasher (i.e., Freddie Kruger) and every possible spirit was not only malevolent, but violently murderous. I blessed the day M. Night Shyamalan's Sixth Sense started breaking box office records because his was a true ghost story and a good one. After that, I found people (read: editors) were more open to ghost stories that did not involve severing someone's carotid artery or ripping out another's intestines.

I guess the bottom line in this is a celebration, on my part, of all this fun ghostly material available across the board. I love a good ghost story, and the current popularity of the ghost story as New Adult fiction is like frosting on my supernatural cake.

1 comment:

  1. Ghost stories are some of my favorites, too. And I read about the category New Adult, but can't remember where. Anyway, I'm glad you have your "frosting" now. I'd like to meet some of your ghosts one day.