I would like to welcome Mona (last name withheld to protect the innocent) to my blog today as she reveals her thoughts on the 50 Shades craze.
When the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon began swelling (!), I sighed (non-erotically) because it meant there would be multiple responses from every avenue of readership: those that write it, those that sell it, and those that buy it, borrow it, lend it and skim it. What I didn’t expect was my own sinful experiences!
My book club reads every genre and we were just coming off World Book Night when one member piped up about her free read, “Have you read…?” No! I scowled. I wouldn’t waste my time reading that type of book! Oops. I did read “that type” years ago, a trilogy, written under a pseudonym. Those were by Anne Rice retelling the Sleeping Beauty fairytale before she made vampires into rock stars. Pride goeth before the fall and there I went, tumbling down, down, down.
Remember the days when you talked to people, face-to-face? Some days I still do. Other days I’m lazy and listen in on those talking, especially when waiting in a long line for a book to be signed by a non-Grey author at this year’s Book Expo America. The two talkers: lady librarians. The topic: you guessed it. “I’ve been watching the reserve list, it’s crazy. Have you read it?” asked LL1 of LL2. “I just wish an editor had gotten a hold of it and cleaned up the mistakes. And made it better. She’s got a voice.” More than I can say for me, standing there closed-mouthed and open-eared.
3 & 4) Greed & Gluttony
At the same show on another signing line for a completely different genre, I actually engaged in the lost art of conversation and talked with a bookstore owner. Her store was in Arkansas and its entire second floor is dedicated to science-fiction and fantasy. I was trying to map out the route for such a detour during a North Carolina road-trip when she hit upon the controversial show topic: that book. “I couldn’t even finish unpacking the books from the boxes to put in the window. Women were taking it out of my hands. I went through cases. Cases. I have a hard time usually going through one case. I have books I dust.” Instantly, my gut expanded and my wallet shrank. I had to save the books, every one. Save them from feather-dusters and crying authors and the remainder bin. Could I devour, consume, eat them up? No, I would have to read them and burp! That’s too much for one person. Sharing is caring. Please read more books. Time to buy another bookcase or three.
Back in olden days you had to carry a book through the store aisles and up to the crowded cash register where everyone would check out which book you were buying. Nowadays, anonymity and convenience give you 24-access to a fantasy world achieved in an easy Click-Here button. “I just downloaded…” Busy your idle hands elsewhere. Those electronic devices are tools of temptation. Candy-colored and non-descript covers hide what story you’re enjoying. Download sales numbers for Grey are huge: Kobo, Kindle, Nook, etc. Yet there are still bold souls who strut through the store aisles, book in hand, to share with their lover in the privacy of their own bedroom. Then there are those commuters (ahem) who take that book on the rush-hour train out of NYC bound for their bedroom communities in Westchester. This lady stranger sits next to my handsome husband, sharing a rather tight two-seater, one of them squashed up against the window when the other (her) starts with the squirming and sighing, lip-biting and pupil-dilated activities. This sparks my hubby’s bad habit of “reads-dropping” – when you sneak a peek at the other person’s reading material. Those e-book readers make it hard to do this. Books are perfect for the eye-roll that leads to the blushing (hers and his) and the frantic looking for an exit (his).
Not that I gained anything from his recounting of the above encounter except another sin. And not the fun one. Which annoyed me. Leading to the other sin of teeth gnashing and nail sharpening. I just found out that he’s spotted this lustful reader again, headed to the trains, her arms full of the sequels. He better be sitting somewhere far, far away from her and that wench better be keeping her fingers on the pages and not on my pretty or…!
Calming down I did some research about Grey’s origins. It started as fan fiction: using some other writer’s creations to spin out your own what-if stories. I sat up straighter in my desk chair and squealed “I did that years ago! I could’ve gotten a publishing deal and been rich!” Ah, envy, the sneakier sin.
Yes I wrote fan fiction, a novella, a long time ago and also published it on my own website. Just for fun, just to write, just to play in that universe whose copyrights belonged to someone else, and just to hook up my two (hot) favorite characters. And it was great fun to write those steamy scenes, which I made my readers wait… and wait…and wait for the final culmination while I blew up the world around them. Wars, family secrets, government experiments, group dynamics, and a vacation to a false paradise in order to spring a trap: all those lovely distractions that writers and readers enjoy, the trappings that ultimately are the solid constructs forming a story. The steamy scenes are important in their reward, the payoff you must earn writing and turning the pages surrounding those scenes, and the payoff is sweeter if you take the time to enjoy setting up those explosions. Fake it until you make it? Then the experience is not truly, deeply satisfying and leaves you hungry for more, such as books 2 and 3.
Oooo now I’m jazzed to write, aren’t you? The Grey phenom shows us that anybody can turn a fantasy into a reality. Stay focused and keep pouring energy into your creation. This realization leads me back to Pride and I’m swirling the whirlpool of sin again, however I’m really enjoying the ride. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Mona lives in a glass castle and tries not to throw heavy objects, especially stones, that can shatter her belief system. She owns many books yet doesn't make enough time to read them all or write new ones. She is presently trying to teach her cats to read.