New Adult Fiction Interview with Brenda Gardner (MD of Piccadilly Press) and Liz Bankes (Author of ‘Irresistible’)

New Adult Fiction Interview

Brenda Gardner is the MD of independent publisher, Piccadilly Press, which has celebrated its 30 year anniversary. Piccadilly Press has recently published Irresistible, the debut novel of Liz Bankes. Brenda and Liz will be appearing at the London Book Fair on April 15th discussing ‘New Adult’ fiction; ‘New Adults, Steamies, Crossed Genres-Reinventing Teen Fiction’.

We were delighted to catch up with Brenda and Liz prior to their event and get the lowdown on New Adult fiction.

Brenda Gardner
This is an exciting time for teen fiction, as New Adult (NA) fiction seems to rising in popularity. Could you outline who is the target audience for NA fiction and what the term actually means?

Well, I think there is a tremendous amount of debate about what NA fiction means. Some publishers,  retailers. teachers and librarians think it means sexy fiction for older teens.  And some think it means crossover fiction – fiction read by adults and teenagers, and perhaps even children.  So is NA a term for Twilight (where there was no sex until the third book) and Hunger Games or is it any title which is sub Shades of Grey?

I think the jury is out on this for the moment. I think I personally go for the second definition.

How does NA fiction differ from the more established Young Adult (YA) genre?

From the above comment I would have to say that it is any book written with the voice of a teenager which twenty somethings are also reading and enjoying. And the YA genre is one where because there are more teenage sensibilities it is perhaps primarily read by teenagers. But the lines are so easily blurred. When I read Twilight in the early days I definitely thought it would only appeal to teenage girls.

Do you see the two genres becoming more separate in future or will there always be a crossover between the two?

I think there will always be a crossover between the two. It is so hard to know what captures the imagination of the reader. And then what ignites it to become a phenomenon such as Shades of Grey or Twilight.

Can you attribute any reasons why NA fiction is becoming so popular? Would you agree that it’s been driven by the unprecedented popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is obviously aimed at a  more adult audience?

I don’t think it is just that. I think especially in America NA/YA fiction were the areas of growth in publishing. Publishers were seeing these numbers rise well before Shades of Grey.  There is now speculation that this is slowing, but that is just among publishers in Bologna not being so frantic to get on the bandwagon.

As Managing Director and Publisher of Piccadilly Press, you’ve been responsible for launching the careers of writers of teenage fiction, including Cathy Hopkins and Caroline Green. Do you have any hot tips for YA/NA writers to look out for in the future?

Well obviously Liz Bankes! And we have one or two that we are working on at the moment.

Liz Bankes
Liz Bankes author image
Congratulations on the publication of Irresistible, which has been described by ‘The Independent’ as the first British NA novel. Would you agree with that claim?

I think that’s hard for me to say! The term seems to be about who reads the books and all I can say is what I was thinking when I wrote it. I was thinking of myself at 16 and the things I wanted to read about. I think that being 16/17 is a fascinating point in life – it is when everything is undecided and anything is possible. A lot of New Adult books seem to be about this moment – when characters are leaving school and starting something else, be it uni, college or just life, and I can see why that is something that resonates with a lot of readers.

Were you aware of what ‘New Adult’ fiction was when you began writing the book? Who did you think would enjoy reading your book?

No I didn’t start hearing about it until afterwards, but if I had done I don’t think it would have changed the book. I just write about the things I find funny and interesting and like reading about – and hope that others agree! I have always loved reading about falling in love and wanted to write about the first time that happens – it’s always new, uncertain and exciting, but I think more so when it hasn’t happened to you before. So I was probably thinking of readers in their mid-to-late teens in particular, but hoped that anyone who could remember being that age would enjoy it!

Your novel has also been described as a ‘steamy’.  How would you describe that term?

I think it is about experiencing passion for someone you really like and discovering what you want from a relationship. And a part of that is going to be deciding when you are ready to have sex and exploring that side of yourself. I think most romances in books will end up being a little steamy, because they deal with the passion and excitement of discovering that you want to be with someone!

What are your plans for the future? Do you intend to write more NA titles?

I am definitely interested in writing about real life and love, so I imagine what I write will fall into that category! I’d really like to write about characters starting to make their way in the world, so perhaps a story set at uni. I’m also really keen on writing comedy, so would like to write something for that age group that reflects the sort of stuff I like watching on TV – things like Girls, which bring out the ridiculous side of attempting to be an adult for the first time.

Which books did you enjoy reading yourself as a teenager?

My absolute favourites were Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson books. They are without a doubt the funniest things I have ever read. My best friend and I were obsessed with them and still quote from them. And I remain in love with Dave the Laugh. I also loved  – and still love – reading Jane Austen. Her books build conjure up incredible love stories, simply through looks and conversations. And I remain in love with Darcy.

 

 

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