Monday, October 22, 2012

New Sub-Genre of Romance

I recently came across a new sub-genre of romance: New Adult. In my quest for an in-depth definition of this new sub-genre, I came across this blog from September 16, 2012 by NA Alley.

The basic definition of New Adult is that it starts when Young Adult ends and ends when Adult starts. By this I mean, for a contemporary fiction novel, the age range for the protagonists is 19–25. There are plenty of people who would say that 19 is really YA and not NA, and in our modern times of the 2010s, the upper range for NA should include the very young 30 also.

The definition gets tricky where historical fiction is concerned. Take Regency-set romances: heroines typically are 17 or 18 on the lower end and by historical society standards, they're adults, not young unattached independent adults (i.e., NA) but full-fledged adults. So would these books come under NA or A? Well, according to NA Alley, it depends on the emotional maturity of the characters.

For heat level in a NA romance, expect the same levels as elsewhere in romance, namely, sweet, sensual, spicy, and erotic.

I hasten to add that contemporary NA is not chick-lit, or rather, it doesn't have to be chick-lit. It can involve all sorts of human life situations and events, just so long as the emotional maturity level and ages of the protagonists remains at the early adulthood level.

For author promotion efforts, NA Alley recommends that writers seek college bookstores and newspapers and NA-friendly social networks.

The NA category is so new that it's not a classification that's widely known even within the publishing industry. So you cannot walk up to a Barnes & Noble employee and ask where they have these books shelved. They're most likely going to be shelved with the adult books.

Note: As of today, Harlequin's Carina Press is open for submissions in the New Adult category.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Missing Pieces in the History of the World

Who and what events and discoveries would you include if you were compiling a History of the World? The BBC came up with their list of most oft overlooked moments. Here are a few:

1. "In 1909, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch created a way of producing huge amounts of" industrial-grade ammonia for use in fertilizers.

2. "Ibn al-Haytham was born in about 965 in what is now Iraq, and is regarded by some by some as the real father of the scientific method, predating Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes in the 17th Century. He was [also] the first to disprove the theory that we see objects by rays of light emitted from our eyes, realising instead that we see because light enters our eyes."

3. The Danube Script found on Neolithic artefacts is as yet undesciphered and archeologists have not been able to decide whether it is indeed one of the earliest forms of writing or just random, ritualistic symbols.

4. "Double-entry book-keeping, which [was] introduced to Europe in the early 16th Century by the monk Luca Pacioli, is a financial accounting system that [recognizes that] all transactions have two aspects, a credit and a debit, and the two sets of figures [must] always balance."

5. The Seven Years' War (1756-1763) was truly the first World War, since it "involved all the great powers of Europe and saw France, Austria, Russia and Sweden on one side, and Britain, Prussia and Hanover on the other."

6. The Kingdom of Aksum (Axum) in north-eastern Africa became one of the world's greateast markets in the first century CE. It was one of Rome's great trading partners and was characterized by a "highly innovative urban civilisation."

7. The Law Code of King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE), the first ruler of the Babylonian Empire, are written in Akkadian, include concepts such as evidence-based justice and giving testimony under oath. Hammurabi "adorns the wall of the American Supreme Court."

8. Angkor Wat of 9th–12th century Cambodia was the "largest pre-industrial urban complex in the world" of its time, with "sophisticated hydraulic engineering and water management systems."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Guardian's Crime Fiction Recommendations

The UK newspaper The Guardian recently posted an open thread blog for best crime fiction among its readership. They asked: "Who are your favourites, and which are their best books? Let's have a brainstorm and see what we can come up with."

This is what I recommended: "From the classics, nothing beats Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. Josephine Tey and P.D. James, in the same style, run a close second. From the modern crop of writers, Ruth Rendell and Deborah Crombie are superb as are Elizabeth George's early books. For a historical turn of events, I find C.S. Harris marvelous. Another historical mystery writer I really enjoy reading is Elizabeth Peters. She writes Egypt-set British Victorian mysteries. For all of these writers, my key takeaways are their protagonists—enduring, finely drawn, with new nuances revealed about them in every book, aka character growth and change—and scene setting and complex mystery plotting skills."

The comment thread's now closed but has close to 50 entries. It's a great spot to find authors who are new to you. My discoveries were Paul Doherty and his historical mysteries particularly the medieval ones, Margery Allingham's classic British crime series, and Margaret Frazer's medieval books.

The Guardian started the thread off mentioning Peter May, but he seems to be an oft occurring theme among the readers, too. P.D. James pops up, as does Dorothy L. Sayers. A tip o' the hat to the Scandinavian writers, who became so popular from the mid-1990s, and to Japanese writers. There was even a call-out for Russian author Dostoyevsky's books, though what he would've thought of his work being classified as genre fiction as opposed to über literary fiction is anybody's guess.

One significant name missing from the list is John Le Carré, but it's difficult to figure out which category books come under. They rarely fall under crime/mystery/thriller, but his field is very narrow these days, so I wonder if it can be bundled under the thriller category. Those books are ones that should not be missed!

Which myster, crime, spy, or thriller novels are your favorites?