Today I’m excited to host an author I love so much on the blog. You may know her as Diana Peterfreund (remember how much I raved about For Darkness Shows The Stars) but she’s making her debut into the New Adult world as Viv Daniels. Now, if you haven’t found any New Adult out there that’s for you so far like me, you might want to read this as One & Only has definitely gone beyond the cliches that turned away a lot of us from New Adult and she has some valuable insight to share!
1. Describe One & Only in 6 words or less.
Long Secrets, Tough Choices, First Loves. (That was really hard!)
2. I know you’ve personally written NA in the past, before it was labeled as such, with your Secret Society Girl novels. What do you think of the New Adult label and how it has emerged so quickly? Do you think it’s hard to define what is NA and what isn’t? (i.e. especially when it comes to where bookstores should shelve so the right readers find the books).
I think the difficulty of defining new adult stems from the fact that it was a label that got self-applied to a particular type of self published novel, and it wasn’t exactly what the inventor of the term meant when he coined it. So you’ve got different crowds defining it different ways, i.e., one group that wants to call it any novel about an early twenty something (as if those have never existed before!), and a readership that only knows “New Adult” as a specific type of contemporary women’s fiction or romance. I didn’t call SSG “new adult” when I published it, though the inventor of the term held it up as a prime example, and I don’t know if it really fits what’s actually being published, which is a very specific, very intense, very intimate type of coming-of-age love story. (Also, I find it very telling that the guy who invented the term never published any.)
As for shelving, I think that’s the main reason why NA is taking off in ebooks and in self-publishing, because they don’t need to worry about shelves in a bookstore. There is no “place” for NA, and there are plenty of genres that have happily and will continue happily publishing books about early 20 somethings (historical fiction, sci-fi, etc.) without jumping on this buzzword. As for romance/contemporary women’s fiction, however, there was a HUGE hole there. Publishers were not publishing books about 20 year olds in love. And that’s why I think it’s romance where NA-as-NA has really taken off.
If you look at the NA out there, they tend to mirror all the subgenres of romance but with 20 year old heroines. There’s the “glitz” romance where the heroine falls for the billionaire/rock star/etc.; there’s the romantic thriller where she’s being stalked/harrassed or has some other kind of shady past and must be saved by the hero, there’s the sexual awakening book, there’s the sweet, small-town romance (that’s more of what I’m going for with my series, where family and community are big players in the story)… these are all storylines present in the romance genre at large. And even the outliers, the “historical” NA or the “paranormal” NA — well, it’s paranormal romance, and historical romance, just with younger characters.
And I think that’s fine. I think that’s GREAT — college romance was completely being ignored by romance publishers before NA (which is something my friend and romance writer Julie Leto actually blogged about the other day: http://www.plotmonkeys.com/2013/11/13/first-time-love/ ). I don’t think NA has to be all things to be worthwhile, and a definitely disagree with the retro-fitting some really overeager NA writers are wanting to do (All Greek myths are NA, Star Wars is NA, etc.)
3. What are some misconceptions you think that are out there right now about NA?
That it’s “sexed up YA.” I disagree with this assessment entirely. First, most NA books I’ve read aren’t about teenagers at all. Second, I’ve read plenty of YA with sex in it (Stiefvater, Marr, Black, Elkeles, Hopkins, the list goes on and on), so the idea that the difference is the presence of sex is laughable. Third, YA books occur in every category, and NA books, were they YA, would primarily be categorized as romances, romantic thrillers, and “issue” books. I mean, literally the only time I can think of that stereotype fitting is with those “hot for teacher” New Adult novels. As YAs, books about teens who have affairs with their teachers are published as issue novels, warning stories about predatory teachers (See: Rob Thomas’s Rat Saw God or R.A. Nelson’s Teach Me). As NA, they are published as love stories where you are rooting for them to stay together. I’ve yet to see a book like that published as a YA novel and if it were, I bet it would be extremely controversial!
4. When I was in college I SO wish there had been more books out there set in college, like One & Only, with characters I could relate to. It was perhaps the years with the most change and figuring out who I was. Why do you think it’s been largely ignored as a setting in contemporary novels?
Very few college kids read for fun, or at least, that’s been the perception in publishing for years. They’ve got so much assigned reading to do! I read very few “fun novels” in college. Maybe on spring break. I know almost all of my readers of my former college set series were either high schoolers looking forward to college or recent graduates feeling nostalgic.
Even now, my understanding is that the majority of NA novels are not being bought by college students, but rather, by recent graduates who are nostalgic for the past (especially in this tough economy where their “lives” may not be starting as quickly as they’d like), by older readers generally nostalgic for college, and by readers who are college-aged but not actually in college, on an “aspirational” basis. I think maybe the “aspirational” element to a lot of the NA accounts for the popularity of the “Fifty Shades” style books where the college kid becomes the unexpected object of affection for the billionaire/rock star/sports hero). I think that may be why although a lot of these books are nominally set in college, you don’t see the kids in class or doing other collegiate activities a lot. That was one thing I wanted to address in my book.
4. If adult Viv met up with college Viv for coffee, what advice would she give her about romance?
See, that’s tough to say, because I did meet my husband in college, and I really don’t know that much about dating in the “real” world. Maybe that’s why I’m more comfortable writing college romances. I do think if I’d met college Viv before she’d met my husband, I’d tell her to hang in there, and that all the romantic drama she was going through would come out all right in the end. I had a really bad breakup in college and I let it get to me too much! More fish in the sea, Viv!
5. Did anything from your own college experience get written in to Tess’s college experience?
Little things. Like Dylan’s high school science project is based loosely on my college thesis for my Geology major, and the big atrium and central staircase in the bioengineering lab is modeled a bit after my department’s main building. Also the fact that I did make them science majors, like I was.
6. From what I’ve seen so far in NA there seems to be A LOT of the same type of cliched damaged bad boy types. You’ve written more of a good boy type who rises above these cliches (thank you!!). Most people who are scared off by the NA label are for that reason so I’d love for you to tell us maybe 3 well known fictional boys you see him as most like.
I’m glad you like him! I’m not usually into bad boys myself (Logan Echols excepted), so I find myself writing the kind of guys I can fall in love with, and sweet, charming Dylan is definitely that! There is definitely room for the bad boy in fiction, but I don’t want readers to think that that’s the only choice they get when it comes to NA novels. Go read Cora Carmack. She also likes guys who are –shock– actually NICE to the girls they are falling for.
As for Dylan’s literary twins, I feel like he’s maybe one part Etienne St Clair from Stephanie Perkins’s ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS (he’s got the charm and gregariousness), one part Cricket Bell from Stephanie Perkins’s LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR (geeky science boys For the Win! Also, I’m clearly obsessed with Perkins…), and one part Ben (Adam Scott) from PARKS & RECREATION (really admires the woman he loves for who she is, and wants to fight for her). I really wanted to show that a character could be strong and assertive and sexy without being deeply damaged or mean.
7. Is One & Only part of a series or a companion series of romance novels? Can we expect to see Tess and Dylan again?
It is! It’s the first novel in the Canton series, which is currently set to be three interconnected books about different characters at Canton. But each book is a separate story — no cliffhangers. Tess and Dylan are the first story. The next book, Sweet & Wild, is out next spring, and that one will be about Hannah, who is Tess’s half-sister and a major player in One & Only. The third story is about another couple, but I don’t want to spoil who they are, yet. Tess and Dylan will make appearances in all the books.
Thank you for asking such fantastic questions! They really gave me a lot to think about.
About One And Only
Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.
One love they can’t ignore…
Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.
…And only one chance to get things right.
Check Viv out on:
Viv has graciously offered up a great swag pack for one lucky reader — a One & Only bookmark, an assortment of gifts and books from her and other new adult authors, and a One & Only charm. PLUS there’s a blog tour wide giveaway happening as well!
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