A GIRL TRYING TO LEAVE HER PAST BEHINDI was a normal teenager who loved music and dancing, until the day I was attacked in my favorite record store. A few years later when my mom succumbed to depression and took her own life, I couldn’t stay in my hometown with all the memories and the curious stares. I decided to get in my car and just go – except my car decided it was done going outside a tiny place called Evergreen Grove. That’s where I found Jake. Or I guess Jake found me.A GUY WHO CAN’T LET HIS GOFor the last eight years, all I can think about is the day I ended another man’s life. Then I manage to save Cassie’s, and I feel like maybe I’ve got some kind of second chance. To do what I couldn’t before, or maybe even for something bigger. Something like love. If only I could feel like I deserve her.
I love Elisabeth Staab, she had me trying and reading a few things that I won’t necessarily gravitate to, but end up liking. So even if New Adult isn’t my cuppa, I trust her enough to know that I will at the very least enjoy AT THE STARS. She’s here today to talk about NA tropes this genre is notorious for.
Okay, so first? Thank you to Braine for letting me come on the blog. Second? I honestly don’t think my mom will ever read any of my books, and that’s probably best for everyone involved. 😉
So. New adult. I started reading the genre a little while after it emerged, I guess, and I found I loved it for all the reasons I found it so heartbreaking to read: it took me back to a difficult and confusing time in my life. YA is similar, of course, except the characters in NA are largely on their own and struggling to find their place in the world. The stakes are higher, in theory, with little or no parental safety net.
It’s a genre that tackles many complex issues, and some that I think are particularly important during that early-adult period in a person’s life. Sarina Bowen’s recent release, The Shameless Hour, does an excellent job of casting a light on slut shaming, and Robin York’s Deeper similarly takes on “revenge porn.”
The emotional punch of these kinds of topics are why I thought I’d never want to write NA (not that all NA is angsty). As much as I loved reading these books, my own college-aged years were difficult, and I didn’t want to revisit that time period even in a fictional sense.
Next thing I knew I was writing At the Stars.
Cassie and Jake came to me a little over two years ago, in the middle of the night. I guess that’s fitting, since that’s when they meet. Cassie is stranded by the road in the dark, and Jake saves her.
I resisted writing At the Stars as hard as Jake resisted his attraction to Cassie, which is probably why it took two years to finish.
Is it an “average” new adult novel? I think yes and no.
Some of the things that you might expect to find in an average new adult novel do not appear in At the Stars. There’s not much sex, because Cassie is an assault survivor and Jake spends most of the book trying to convince himself he is not going to sleep with her. Anyone who’s read my adult novels knows I don’t shy away from writing explicit love scenes when the moment calls for it, but for these characters it didn’t fit (it’s character dependent, really. I suspect there will be more on-page sex in the sequel, because those characters have a different story to tell).
There will also be no billionaires in At the Stars, which according to my recent Amazon searches are also common in NA right now (and where are these kids getting all their money? When I was in my 20’s I lived on Ramen and cold pizza). And no step-siblings, which might be a bummer, because apparently those books are selling like hotcakes.
There is plenty of classic angst in At the Stars (one of Jake’s scenes makes me cry whenever I read it, because I’m a sap like that). There’s a wounded heroine—I say wounded rather than damaged, because Cassie is a survivor, and we meet her in At the Stars when she is in the process of picking up a life that recently fell apart. She’s healing, and while she makes some very human mistakes (as all 21 year old girls do), she fights for her happiness, which is what we all want, ultimately.
And then there’s Jake, who I love beyond all reason. He’s probably one of my favorite heroes that I’ve written. He ran away from home as a teenager, and soon after there was a terrible accident where a friend died. He blames himself. He tries so hard to keep the world away, and by the time he meets Cassie he doesn’t even realize how much he’s dying for someone to love.
So as many times as I stopped and put the book aside because it didn’t fit anywhere in my to-do list, Jake pushed me to pick it back up. And then finally I saw the picture that would become the cover for At the Stars, and I was stuck. I had to finish.
And now, here we are. Wounded heroine? Check. Bad boy who ran away from home? Check. Angst? Check. A little humor? Check. Gay sidekick who used to be a male escort? I wasn’t aware, but I read something recently about the prevalence of gay BFFs in new adult. I swear I hadn’t noticed that trend, but anyway, Cassie has one of those too.
Happy ending? I don’t write them any other way.
Happy reading, everyone!
Elisabeth Staab loves passionate stories and happy endings. Her books have been called “emotionally delicious,” “action-packed,” and “gloriously snarky.” When not writing romance, she enjoys date night with her husband, reading Harry Potter with her kids, and marathoning her favorite books or TV series.