Nature abhors a vacuum. Cliché but, like the best clichés, it’s undeniably true. For the past few years, the young adult market has been expanding at a prodigious rate. The shelves at your local bookstore are crammed with stories dealing with everything from misunderstood vampire boyfriends to drug abuse.

There’s just one catch: young adult books seem to top out at age eighteen. Write a character out of high school and you find yourself in a strange no-man’s land. Your themes might be similar to those found in YA but no one seems to know how or where to place your book. With Twilight readers getting older and more adults reading YA, it’s logical that there should be a demand for slightly older characters. It’s just that no one seems to be filling it.

Those of us with characters in their late teens and early twenties have been left with an awful question: Do we try change the age of our characters (changing college settings to high school if need be) or do we simply cross our fingers and hope for the best?

The latest news from St. Martin’s Press has some of us breathing a little easier. (Actually, we held hands and skipped in circles crying “SALVATION”. We’re not exactly a subtle bunch.) Early this week, news hit the internet: SMP is looking for great fiction with characters slightly older than traditionally seen in YA and they’re calling it “new adult”.

The road ahead for those of us with 18+ year-old protagonists is still long (and still seems to be slopping slightly uphill) but it is a much more exciting journey than it was just a few weeks ago. We’re still veering off the map but if the news from SMP tells us anything, it reminds us that taking the road less traveled isn’t always a bad thing.

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