Is your latest project middle grade? Is it young adult? Is it new adult (new title for 20-somethings who like to read YA)?
This topic is of particular importance to me, as somebody who once wrote a YA novel with a 23-year-old protagonist. (And now has a MG book with a 17-year-old protagonist.) I know, I know. You're thinking: Why can't you just make your character the right age?
And the answer isn't that I'm a rebel without a cause, or that I am doing it on principle to stick it to the man (though I do sometimes like to stick it to the man). I'm doing it because that's the age the character is. Cop-out much? Yeah. Yeah, I do. But here's my justification:
23-year-old Eric is a boy-man who witnessed his father's death at age 5, bought his first house at age 13 and never completely grew up.
If I made Eric younger, he wouldn't be the savant sci-fi novelist who never grew up. He'd just be another kid. His "advanced" age doesn't change the fact that this book is about coming of age, which is a YA theme.
If Robert were younger, he would still be trying his darndest (and failing miserably) to be a villain, without ruffling too many evil feathers. He wouldn't be growing at all as a character, which kills the MG theme of finding one's place in the world.
Writing this, I realize something. I have a new WIP that's also about a late bloomer. *Update: Point of clarification, she's the right age for the genre this time.
I write books about late bloomers. Hah. Well, that explains it.
Now if I could only convince agents and publishers that kids don't only pick up novels about somebody their own age. :-}
Seriously, people. Crossover appeal is not as rare as some people seem to think. Here's some more fascinating reading material on this subject.
On New Adult Fiction -an interesting beginning to a discussion about 20-somethings and their reading preferences.
Dude Looks Like a YA -wherein Nathan Bransford says, in 2007, that these categories are more about voice and pacing than they are about age or theme.
The Difference Between MG and YA -wherein themes are discussed as the divergence between the genres.
In my defense, my word counts are spot-on.