NA – ish

My book is only NA-ish.

Don’t get me wrong, NA (or New Adult) is a real crowbar when all that stands between you and the chance of getting it on a shelf in a bookshop, virtual or otherwise, is the slot between young-adult-but-more-adult-than-young-adult and – adult – that’s opened up in the last few years. My book is a cross-over. Now Neil Gaiman (you don’t need a link to Neil Gaiman) says … (no,  you really don’t) that

we should stop worrying and write the books we have to write

The Goth Flamingo doesn’t have to be primeval bedrock in your reading experience, like wot he is in mine, for this advice to have the authority of tectonic plates shifting in your brain.

But I’ll admit to moments of slottishness. Then I’m grateful to NA Alley and all those workers at the digital coalface who are shining a light on this genre-seam. The Rules of New Adult are probably still to be written. Rebecca Lee @rebeccaeditor may remember some tweets about it but my only guidance as a writer is the memory of someone’s writing forum YA novel where the female hero became a pirate, so far, so YA; she became a pirate in revenge, YA yah, she became a pirate in revenge for being raped in graphic detail … not YA. But if it was NA, are there still issues about the treatment of a rape scene? And we’d probably need to revisit the pirates.

Does NA do pirates?

Neil’s answer to crossovers is

do your best to get it published in a way that lets all of them know it’s out there

So, two covers, and already I’m thinking this for the adult version …


Check the genre

On my planet (which is not affiliated with anyone who can get your book published), the genre depends on what you do with the Pirates.


The main character flies away to be one of a gang of Lost Boys and meets a Pirate who has a hook instead of a hand because it was eaten by a crocodile. Or the main character is a Pirate. As long as he or she is a GOOD Pirate, it’s all pretty straightforward for Children’s. Have fun, be glad you’re not trying for the other two categories.

Young Adult

You can still have Pirates in this, either actual pirates or a gang called The Pirates. S/F or fantasy-up the pirates, steampunk pirates, dystopian pirates, whatever, just keep them mean and dangerous, they’re your vampires (without the sparkly). If your main protagonist is a girl, she’s going to fall in love with one; he’ll show her how to kick arse and wear scraps of strategically-placed leather, she’ll show him the path to redemption. If your protagonist is gay he/she can fall in love with a gay pirate so long as there’s straight-couple protagonists running relationships alongside.

If you’re going for adult-young-adult, keep the pirates real, they’re a school gang or a street gang. Relationships as above.

Sex. Be responsible about this, people, readers may still be secretly hankering after the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme park rides.

New Adult

You could have real pirates in this. Main protagonist falls in love (can you write a gay relationship effectively, sure you’re not trying to jump on a bandwagon? Go for it, then) with someone who’s a modern-day pirate. Otherwise shove all the pirate qualities onto the main protagonist’s love interest and keep it real.

It doesn’t have to end well, but there has to be redemption.

My First Pirate Story

My main character was captured by pirates and forced to work as a cabin boy. He rustled up a superb three-course meal, all fresh ingredients using primitive equipment; they all enjoyed the meal and everyone was happy. I hadn’t heard about Dramatic Conflict.

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