Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sequels, Spin-Offs and Shameless Cash Ins. (Yes, E L James, I am looking at you.)

This is my 'S' post for the Spanking A-Z Blog Challenge. "What's that?" you ask. Check out my page here for more information and a list of all the wonderful bloggers taking part.

E L James recently released a follow up to Fifty Shades of Grey because, heaven knows, she hasn't already made enough money out of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise.

Grey, as I am sure you already know, is Fifty Shades of Grey told from Christian's Grey point of view.  The first few chapters were included at the end of Fifty Shades Freed. Or at least in the copy of the book that I bought two or three years ago. This doesn't seem to have been mentioned in any coverage of Grey that I have come across (although to be fair, I haven't been paying them a lot of attention.) Which leads me to suspect that most people didn't make it to the end of the third book.

The thing is, for the couple of chapters I read, reading the story from Christian's perspective makes some kind of sense. In the first few chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey, we don't really know what Christian's take on the situation is. What does he make of Ana Steele the first time she comes tumbling into his office? Was his turning up in the hardware store in which she worked a lucky accident or part of his weird-arse stalker shit? (Spoiler: Weird-ass stalker shit, obviously.)

Once the couple start dating though, we know exactly what Christian Grey is thinking. We know because he and Ana discuss it in long, boring and fucking unrelentless detail. What on earth could be added to the interminable emails that the couple send to one another when read from Psycho Boyfriend's perspective?

There you go, James. I'm pimping your book anyway. You're welcome.
The book will no doubt sell millions, mostly to people who don't realise that there is literally a fuckton of better erotica out there. (And yes I meant 'literally' literally there. 'Fuckton' is an official measurement of erotic literature output.)

But, you know what, E L? Sooner or later, you're going to have to write a different book. I know it's hard. I know you want to keep the cash cow incessantly lactating. But I'm sure you've got at least one non-Fifty Shades of Grey book in you.

J K Rowling managed it. So did Stephanie Meyers. She managed to quit the Twilighting habit and write The Host, a dystopian sci-fi novel all about invasive aliens hosts and complicated love triangles and whatnot. She didn't just re-write Twilight from Carlisle Cullen's point of view or something.

There you go. That's your next project, if you're not already on it. Fifty Shades of Grey was re-hashed Twilight fan fiction. Maybe your next book should be Host-based erotic fan fiction. You can give Wanda, Melanie, Jared and Ian new names and tweak the story about. Maybe replace Wanda's people's desire for consuming souls and overtaking the planet with, I don't know, a desire to set up multi-million pound businesses, twat about in helicopters and buy a lot of iPads. And bung in some spanking and oral sex, obviously.

Not that that I'm telling you how to do your job, E L James. You know how to recycle, re-use and endlessly rehash books better than anyone.


  1. Hi Etta, I think I am going to make this positively my last comment about the endless Fifty Shades controversy. I respect that you, and many other authors, dislike the books for various reasons. I get that you think she has written badly (or inaccurately) about the bdsm scene, and made shed loads of money. Just to turn this around a little. I, at 65, had hardly read any erotic literature, apart from the usual (Story of O, Anais Nin books etc.) I resisted buying Shades for months, but then decided to see what it was all about. I like to think that I am an intelligent, well read woman, but I am an incurable romantic, and I became hooked on the books as a romance, rather than an expose of the bdsm world. I read them twice, straight after each other. When I had finished I began to look around for other erotic literature and came across Blushing Books and other books on Amazon, and over the last year and a half I must have bought over 100 books, some of which were excellent (yours are in this category!), some are mediocre and some I couldn't get past the first chapter, even if other people gave them 5 stars. So that is extra income for all the erotic writers out there. I assume that the other millions of readers of Shades also went on to read more erotic literature. Having read some poor books led me to think that perhaps I could write books too, so I sat down and had a go, and have now had my 6th book accepted by Blushing Books, after years of struggling to get my novels accepted by an agent. I fully understand why E L James has upset many writers, and perhaps I would feel the same in your position. My defence of her is purely because I have spent my life defending the underdog. I hate to see a person crucified by the mob, whatever the cause. You and most authors that I know have not attacked her in the way that I have read other people shamelessly doing. Under the anonymity of the Web I have read some cruel and spiteful things written and I simply cannot bear to see people attacked in this way. I absolutely defend the right of people to dislike the books, or to think them badly written, but I also defend the right of E L James to write the books and not be subject to cruel and nasty comments. I emphasise again that I don't include you in this criticism. You and others are fully entitled to your views. I just wanted to explain (because I like and respect you as an author) why I feel compelled to defend James in the way I have. I hope you understand. Best wishes, Rachel

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for your comments. I really do appreciate them and you're right, James does come in for a lot more criticism than she deserves. Certainly a lot more than she would have had if she were a regular spanky erotica writer rather than the squillion-pound publishing juggernaut that she has become.

    I don't think I would have loved the books even if they had been written by friends of mine. Christian is a dick and all the "Holy Cow"s and Inner Goddess stuff would have driven me crazy. But I have always maintained the sex and spanking scenes are very readable. I particularly like the 'being spanked over the billiard table" scene in the second book, because, you know, that's the sort of thing that appeals to me. In a previous post I said "Fifty Shades of Grey is not that bad really. I've paid money for worse erotica. I've certainly read a good deal that's better."

    But I don't think you can take the ridiculous amount of success the books have enjoyed out of the equation. They're not THAT good. If my books made the Number 1 spot on Amazon for months on end, plenty of people would rip the piss out of them. And rightly so. Of course, I would console myself by throwing huge piles of banknotes up in the air and rolling around naked on them. I presume E L James is doing the same. She's hardly the 'Underdog'.

    And right now on Amazon, "Grey" has 69% of its reviewers leaving 5 star reviews. She can take a bit of ribbing.

  3. This is absolutely, positively, my final comment about FSOG! I just wanted to say that, as someone who took marketing for her finals in my business degree, she (or more likely, her publishers) have run a very clever marketing campaign, and as we have seen with other products, once you catch the public eye and word of mouth gets out (again by clever marketing people) then you get the rush by everyone not to miss out on the item that everyone is talking about. People can be a lot like lemmings really. I looked at the new book, Grey, and it didn't appeal, so I didn't buy it. Actually I would much rather read a good book by you, or Ashe Barker or Emily Tilton. You are all better writers than James. It was just very good marketing by James, or her advisers. Can't blame the woman for that. I just wish that you and other authors had similar marketing people and were similarly successful - as I'm sure you will be one day!