YA, Epic Fantasy and Sexual Content

Is it YA-fantasy?
Epic-young adult? Or something else?

I work with several other authors- helping each other out with all the things that go on behind the curtain.  There’s an awful lot involved- getting a story from its original brilliant idea,  to something sparkling and polished so that you can live and breathe these worlds.

When  I was finishing up several of my stories, and Before the Luck Runs Out- in particular- I struggled with deciding what exact genre they were.  This is especially true, since in order to connect with the readers who are going to love these stories and books—it is important to “drill down,” into sub-categories and niches.  It isn’t enough for a book/story to be fantasy, or even epic fantasy. If you search epic fantasy on Amazon, a few hundred thousand search results come back in micro-seconds.

Also- as I make my foray into fiction writing, I am learning just how many nuances there are: epic fantasy, high fantasy, low fantasy, urban fantasy.  The list goes on, as I am sure you probably know.  I was really struggling, with pinning down my titles.  They share a lot of things with epic fantasy- except, I think they are more character-driven, which is low-fantasy. Hhmmm….

So, I turned to several of my author-friends.  And I was more than a bit surprised that they tended to respond with “young adult,” definitely. Well, I certainly wasn’t planning on that curve ball. Granted, two things.  First, most of them are writing Young-adult and New-adult.  And my main characters tend to be young adults or new adults.

So, from what I understand from the reading, the distinction between YA and NA, is the level of sexual content—where new adult stories are expected to have a strong level of sexual-based relationships and sexual content. In contrast, YA books have tamer versions of sexual relationships and content.  However, in many of them, that seems to be a strong pervasive theme.

I had asked someone about the sexual content in “Luck,” because there is some (this is unusual for me- but this fit into the character and plot development).   I was surprised that the response was that it was perfectly acceptable for the YA level.  WOW. I know books have changed a lot since I was sixteen- but I don’t remember reading about sexual relationships then.  At least, with the content in the story- the underlying message to the young reader, is that sex should be about connection, above and beyond anything else.

But this leaves me with the question.  What is Young Adult? And is YA fantasy following different age and content-related rules than standard classic fantasy? I would love to hear from other fantasy writers, and readers.  What do you think? and what do you find most appealing?  Are sex and relationships weakening classic fantasy?  Or do you think it is a part of our culture in such a way that it has a place in genre-writing?

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