March 30, 2012

"New Adult" Niche: Interview with Jennifer Comeaux

I'm happy to welcome Jennifer Comeaux, author of Life on the Edge, to the blog today for an interview! This is part of the "New Adult" Niche feature I'm doing for my "New Adult" Reading Challenge

First, a bit about Life on the Edge and Jennifer Comeaux:

 "Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history. 

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily's dreams of gold." (from Goodreads)
Jennifer's bio (from her Goodreads profile):
"Jennifer Comeaux earned a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and is a Certified Public Accountant in south Louisiana. While working in the corporate world, she sought a creative outlet and decided to put on paper a story that had played in her head for years. That story became Life On the Edge, her first published novel.

When not working or writing, she is an avid follower of the sport of figure skating, travelling to competitions around the country. Those experiences allow her to see another side of the sport and serve as an inspiration for her writing. Jennifer is blessed with a wonderful family and many friends who have encouraged her to pursue her dream of being a published author.

And now for the questions...

1.) Your novel Life on the Edge features a 19-year-old protagonist and can be considered New Adult. Was it a conscious decision on your part to set the story during this stage of Emily's life? Did you consider lowering her age to fit the conventional definition of YA, or raising it to appeal to older adult readers?  

I always envisioned Emily as a 19-year-old at the beginning of the story (the book spans almost two years of her life). Since the story focuses on a romance between Emily and her coach Sergei, who is in his mid-twenties, I wanted to make sure she was an appropriate age for the relationship. I also liked the age because she could be living on her own and tackling issues without her parents around for constant guidance.

I knew if I tried to shop the book to agents, they would probably want me to change Emily’s age, so that’s one of the reasons I went with a smaller publisher. I had more control over my story, and the publisher believed in it one hundred percent. No one who’s read it and has given me feedback has had an issue with the age, so I’m glad I stuck with my instincts!

2.) In what ways do you feel that the challenges and issues Emily faces as a "new adult" resonate with readers? Have you noticed that readers of a certain age or demographic gravitate towards Life on the Edge 

I think so many readers can identify with Emily’s feelings of falling in love for the first time–that true, passionate love that you know will last forever. Emily doesn’t lead the typical “new adult” life–she’s not in college or working at a full-time job because figure skating is her career–but she still discovers new things about herself through her skating, her part-time coaching job, and her relationship with Sergei. I think a lot of people go through that kind of self-discovery when they’re in college or just starting their professional careers.

What’s been great about the reader response so far has been the wide variety of ages that have enjoyed the book. I’ve received great feedback from teens, readers in their early twenties, and lots of older adult readers, too. There hasn’t appeared to be one demographic that’s picked it up more than another. I love that adults are enjoying YA and new adult books so much!

4.) Do you read New Adult books for fun? If so, what are a few you could recommend

I do! A couple that I’ve enjoyed are The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld and Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan.

5.) How do you see the category of New Adult progressing over the next few years? 

I think with the surging popularity of YA novels, New Adult books can also gain popularity. Teens are reading now more than ever, and they’re going to want books that speak to them as they transition into “new adulthood.” I’d love to see more publishers embrace the genre.

6.) It has been argued that college students don't have time to read for pleasure, and so there isn't a market for New Adult books. How would you respond to that? And do you think that New Adult books might appeal to readers other than college-aged individuals? 

I think college students need an escape from their required reading! I definitely think New Adult books would appeal to readers other than college-aged individuals. As a reader in her mid-thirties, I enjoy those stories quite a bit, just as much as I enjoy young adult books. I like the added maturity of the characters in New Adult novels. They’re more mature than the teens in YA books but still haven’t quite found their way in the world yet. Just like adults enjoy reading YA books, I think they would also enjoy New Adult books if more of them found their way to the market.

Thanks so much, Jennifer, for dropping by and talking about New Adult with us! 

Readers, what do you think about the argument that "college students don't read for fun"? 

Also, it's not too late to join the "New Adult" Reading Challenge! To sign up, fill out THIS FORM.


  1. Thanks so much for having me and for promoting New Adult novels!

  2. I read for fun in college! I love this idea of "New Adult" books. I hadn't heard the term before, so thanks! I too like to read about the transition into adulthood and both my novels feature younger heroines (one is 18, the other 23). Thanks for tweeting this, Jennifer, and Dayna, I love your blog--another one to join! :)

  3. Great interview. I would love to see more New Adult.

  4. I really like this! A lot of my books/stories fall into New Adult, but I didn't know about the genre somehow. Now I can call them what they are. :)
    ~Lisa Greer

  5. I love that this is about ice skating, I can't think of another book I've read on that topic!

  6. I had a good lengthy comment, but mostly it just said that new adult doesn't have to cover going to college. It would just be nice to have some stories about our age group because large publishers seem to forget that you just don't go from teen to adult, there is this whole awkward transition in between them that could make for some really interesting stories.

  7. This is on my TBR and I can't wait to get to it! Super excited and great interview Jennifer and thanks Danya :D

  8. I worked in public libaries for many years and there was always debate somewhere about how books are assigned to collections, which patrons read which levels of books, etc.
    I concluded that people gravitated to the stories and authors which 'appealed' to them -- for whatever reason(s) ... and I suspected that most didn't necessarily know the reasons. Part of it was how much buzz the author or title had received, part was the 'voice' of the author. But, mostly, people want to read what they want to read.
    But the way many libraries assembled, shelved, and displayed material may have actually reduced the number of potential readers.

  9. I'm in my 60's, let's leave it at that, and write YA and adult mystery. I've read several New Adult books and have enjoyed them. I found the refreshing to read and look forward to reading your book Jennifer.

  10. So cool to see New Adult books coming to the forefront. We need more of them.


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