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Veronica Roth, other best-selling young adult authors now aiming for adult readers

The Chicago writer, who grew up in Barrington and got her ‘Divergent’ book deal as a Northwestern undergrad, is among YA writers who have adult novels coming out this year.

After gaining millions of young readers for her “Divergent” fantasy series, Veronica Roth has a new novel coming out in April, “Chosen Ones,” that will be her first for adults and part of a wave of adult books this year from authors known for writing for younger audiences.
After gaining millions of young readers for her “Divergent” fantasy series, Veronica Roth has a new novel coming out in April, “Chosen Ones,” that will be her first for adults and part of a wave of adult books this year from authors known for writing for younger audiences.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

After attracting millions of young readers with her “Divergent” fantasy series, Veronica Roth decided she was ready for a novel for adults.

“I grew up on stories like ‘Dune’ and ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Ender’s Game’ about people who shoulder burdens when they’re too young to bear them,” says the Chicago writer, who tells the story of Sloane Andrews and her fellow fighters against the havoc of the Dark One in “Chosen Ones,” which is coming out April 7.

“So the question of what comes after those stories just kept nagging me. ‘Chosen Ones’ is about that ‘after’ — about a group of 30-somethings who saved the world when they were younger, and they’re still dealing with the repercussions of it.”

Roth, Tochi Onyebuchi and Sarah J. Maas are among writers popular with young people who are coming out with books for older readers. Some have never written for adults. Others move freely between writing for teens and adults.

Judy Blume and Neil Gaiman are among those who have succeeded at appealing to different audiences with different books. Others, including Daniel Handler and Stephanie Meyer, never fully caught on with adults.

Roth, who grew up mostly in Barrington and got her first book deal as an undergraduate at Northwestern University, published her first “Divergent” book in 2011.

Tochi Onyebuchi’s “Riot Baby” is his first book for adults.
Tochi Onyebuchi’s“Riot Baby” is his first book for adults.
Tor Books

She figures enough of her original readers are now old enough to be open to a mature approach.

Onyebuchi had published “Beasts Made of Night” and “Crown of Thunder” before completing “Riot Baby,” his first book for adults, a recently published dystopian novel set in part around the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of police officer who beat Rodney King.

A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Onyebuchi has worked in private and government law. He considers adult books his first passion but found that writing for young people forced him to write clearly and not “to obfuscate.”

Tochi Onyebuchi.
Tochi Onyebuchi.
Tor Books

Maas’ bestsellers for young readers include the “Throne of Glass” fantasy series. Her debut adult book is out Tuesday. The new “Crescent City” series begins with “House of Earth and Blood,” in which protagonist Bryce Quinlan tries, with the help of a fallen angel, to track down the killers of her closest friends.

The main difference for her between writing for younger and older people: “I will admit that I can now get away with quite a bit more swearing!”

Sarah J. Maas’ debut adult book, “Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood,” comes out Tuesday.
Sarah J. Maas’ debut adult book, “Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood,” comes out Tuesday.
Bloomsbury

Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings have written best-selling adult and young adult novels as “Christina Lauren,” starting with such adult romance novels as “Beautiful Bombshell,” “Wicked Sexy Liar” and the upcoming “The Honey-Don’t List.” For young adult novels such as “Autoboyography” and “The House,” they adapt the themes of love and desire.

“We want to give our adult readers a literal escape,” Billings says. “When we are writing of teens, we are trying to be entertaining, yes, but we also want to be more careful that they feel seen and understood . . . and that it doesn’t feel like a grownup talking down to them.”