Hi All,

I would appreciate some clarification from the bountiful wealth of expertise available on this forum .

I've repeatedly run into a wall while trying to work out how to 'classify' my MS. I wrote it as YA Fantasy, taking inspiration from reading Sarah J Maas 'Throne of Glass' and 'A Court of...' series. I'm a woman of 33, and I absolutely loved those books. Rich fantasy worlds, strong female leads, spectacular magic, violence, epic storyline and... a bit of smutty payoff from all the sexual tension. I'm an absolute sucker for it (although I know there are some people who really don't like her books!) I didn't realise YA could take sex scenes as far as Sarah J Maas did, it was certainly the first YA classed book I've read where the sex was so in depth. I have to say, given the target audience for YA is 13-19, if I had a child at the lower end of that age range I would NOT be happy with them reading Sarah's books. Obviously her books are incredibly popular and have done well, so there is a huge market for her type of book. The first thing I've been trying to work out though is, how would you query something like that (given my MS contains mature themes and a few sex scenes)? Would you say "YA Fantasy, although aimed at the upper age range?"

The second thing is I've had feedback that my themes and sex scene may be too much for YA. For example, the first third of MS1 is set in a brothel. Now, there are limited details as to the nature of the "work" - my MC is actually assaulted and as a result cannot "work" until recovered, which leads to her having the time to explore and escape her predicament. Later there is a completely innocent and wholesome sex scene between a secondary character and her boyfriend, which I felt was important as it shows the character's fears and subsequent amazement she has overcome them. And also, payoff for the reader with no fade to black! Having read around these forums I've come to understand that the sole feature that determines whether something in YA or not is the age of the protagonist. So between 15-18, or 19 in some peoples views. 20+ means you are classified as adult fantasy. (I found the classification of "New Adult" never really took off beyond Paranormal Romance, so isn't something you would query with.) Themes don't matter so much - there isn't really anything off limits. So what I'm struggling with is whether to pursue my book as YA Fantasy or if my initial brothel setting has destroyed that option, or age up my protagonist by a few years and make it Adult Fantasy. If I did that, could I still make a comparison with Sarah J Maas in a query, given she is officially a YA author? Also, would an Adult Fantasy require a more "highbrow" style of writing? I'm a long time fantasy reader and I've become a big fan of YA fantasy because it doesn't spend five pages describing the sound water makes when the stream flows, and things like that. It's punchier and more story driven. Would something labelled Adult Fantasy also succeed if it was written in a less highbrow, more YA story driven style?

I'm not sure if I've made much sense, as I've just splurged my thoughts to make this post. But it's something that I've been trying to get my head around. I'm under no illusion that my MS will be published, but it's sad to think there's not even a chance to query it if I've scuppered my chances with my YA genre confusion!

Thank you all