What About Plain Old Adult-Adult?

Published September 22, 2012 by The Author

This may seem like a moot whine, since the top four fiction books in the word right now are of the 50 Shades of Gray series (Or “50 Shades of Blech” as I call them, but that’s another rant), but watching the explosive sales within the Young Adult genre, and now the newly created “New Adult” genre makes me wonder… what about plain old adult-adult? Yeah, yeah, I know, 50 Shades, but that massive travesty aside, what about other adult novels? Steamy romances, sexy paranormals, smutty urban fantasies? They’re still selling, but nobody is talking about them, and with the exception of a few very popular writers’ ongoing series, they’re certainly not burning up the charts.

Look, I have nothing against YA, and I have no idea what “New Adult” even means beyond a couple of mentions I’ve read. This isn’t meant as a rant against them necessarily (although a few YA’s that I’ve read have really frightened me when it comes to the young women coming of age and reading those, maybe thinking the clearly abusive relationships and weak heroines depicted in those stories are the way they’re supposed to be if they want “love” — ANOTHER RANT, DAMNIT!). I have a few writers, both friends and otherwise, who write some really great fiction aimed toward the young adult. And I hesitate to say ANYTHING that will stop young people from reading, because READING IS GOOD. This is meant more as a lament for my beloved adult romance, erotica, and Dark/Urban Fantasy.

Look, I’m not going to lie. I loves me some smut — sometimes soft and smushy, sometimes hardcore and scary. I like fantasy sex, realistic sex, and how-the-hell-did-they-do-that sex. I love grown-ups dealing with grown-up problems and with any luck, being rewarded with a great life partner (or partners) on the other side of some great struggle (or looking forward to standing together through ongoing struggles). I like characters I can relate to or look up to on some level. I like big, butch heroes with soft hearts, and kick ass heroines (or plain old heroines who find something special in themselves through their challenges). I like romantic/sexual pairings where both parties find something wonderful and become better people (or creatures *G*) together.

It makes me sad that so many of my favorite writers, those who write truly great adult fiction — smutty or otherwise — have moved over to YA because that’s what sells. If they want to make a living, their agent/publisher/the market is telling them, you have to write for teens. How many stories are those of us who don’t care to read about teens losing because of the vagaries of the current publishing industry? What’s going on in the cultural zeitgeist that the choices seem to be either anti-woman novels written for young adults (please note I’m not talking about ALL of them, I’ve been told that the majority are very pro-girl power. I’m talking about a few particularly popular series that I myself have read. A notable exception is The Hunger Games.) to anti-woman pseudo-D/s crap that makes the legit BDSM community cringe?

I know, I’m complaining about nothing. What’s popular shifts faster than I can add books to by TBR list. There are thousands of adult books out there, even in my own beloved PR/UF genres, that I haven’t even cracked open yet. And I try not to politicize the themes of so much popular fiction that seems to think so little of women and their sexual power as it relates to the war against that power the right wing is waging against us in the U.S. (But I really can’t help it.) Is our popular fiction trying to teach women to sit down and shut up, take the orders of the Overlord White Evangelical Christian (or choose your fundamentalist misogynist wing of every religion and philosophy here), and not interfere in the decisions the Big Men are making about their lives?

Oh, this is too thinky for me right now. I just see these patterns emerging, and I’d rather see more Anita Blake and a lot less Anastasia Steele. A lot more Jamie Fraser than Christian Grey. I’d also like to see some damn editors on ALL the best sellers I’ve read lately, however I’ve felt about the actual story. I may “only” be pubbed in ebook format, and my final products far from perfect, but I have had to jump through absolute editing hoops of fire to try and come up with the best final version possible (I appreciate being dominated by an editor when it comes to structure, spelling and grammar, and this part of the rant is why). Meanwhile, these billion dollar sellers printed by huge publishing conglomerates look like my longhand first drafts. What is up with that?

I guess I’m book-cranky today. My own writing is going well, and I’m really enjoying Immortal Longings (which is, btw, a YA novel with a very rich plot and interesting characters, and with perfect editing as far as I’ve noticed!), so the only reason I can think of for this rant is that I’ve been reading 50 Shades more carefully both as market research for the D/s I may be writing myself, and to see if there was something I was missing the first time I read it — because I try not to complain about a book I’ve never read, even if I have philosophical problems with its very existence. (Old fanfic thing, not important.) Am I missing something? It’s just… bad. It’s not even good porn! Not that literary porn should be held to a lower standard structure-wise than any other writing, but it usually is. Maybe I’m cynical because I’ve read a lot of amazing erotica, but this is just crap, and I don’t get the huge bruhaha. I get the D/s thing being hot, but this story strikes me as more abusive than a genuine, equal D/s relationship. I find Gray to be an irredeemable ass, and not in a fun way, and Ana is a doormat who acts like a teenager who is totally not Bella Swan, no sir.

I’m off on a tangent again, aren’t I? There’s like five rants all crammed together in this one. The rant I wanted to make was:

Give me more adult-adult fiction with strong female characters, and less kiddy fiction starring girls with no identities outside their relationships with abusive men/monsters/boys, each one sharing practically the exact same plot. Thank you.

*All Comments Will Be Moderated. Flames, curses, and attacks on my person will be deleted, so don’t waste your time. I’m a vet of flame wars, so don’t think you can take me on. Thoughtful disagreement and discussion, however, are welcome.*

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