I’m always a little behind the times. I read Twilight when the third book in the trilogy was about to come out. Started reading the Harry Potters around book 6. Started J.R. Ward’s sexy vampires after book 4. It takes me a while to decide, apparently, on whether or not to read a series.
So, yesterday, I heard about this book, Fifty Shades of Grey. Not sure exactly what was said (saw something on Twitter), but it sparked my interest. So, off I go to Amazon to see what the book is about.
For those of you behind the times (like me), the basic story: 20-something college girl named Anastasia (Ana) has to interview Christian Grey (super-rich entrepreneur) because her journalism-student-roommate is sick and can’t do it. Ana and Christian meet. There are sparks and the rest of the story is the unfolding of their relationship. Not much more plot than that. Note: when I say “relationship”, I’m talking about the mental and physical parts of a man/woman romantic relationship. But this isn’t your typical dating, arguing, figuring out where to go-kind of book. This book attempts to explore the introduction of Ana to Christian’s world of BDSM.
I read the summary and a couple of the reviews, realized they were going to be full of spoilers, stopped reading them, and bought the ebook—$6.99. Now, I didn’t know the BDSM stuff was part of the plot (okay, it was the plot) when I started reading it—should have read more of the reviews, I guess. I’ve read some BDSM stuff, but I tend to be more interested in life/death struggles with bullets flying and a touch of romance/sex in there. Stories steeped in the psychology and physical aspects of BDSM aren’t really my bag. But that said, I did read it, and I wrote the summary above.
Wouldn’t say it was the best writing I’ve ever seen, but I’ve seen worse, too. Yeah, there were misspellings, typos, etc., but I’ve been through multiple edits with professional publishing houses with my own stuff, and some typos still sneak in. Infuriating, but generally harmless. So, that didn’t bother me much.
I didn’t give up on it, so that’s something. I give up on plenty of books if they become too annoying to finish.
So, why am I writing this post??
I’m writing it because of the fascinating backstory.
The backstory on this particular book is this: a lady, under the name Snowqueens Icedragon (real name: E.L. James) wrote a piece of fan fiction called “Master of the Universe”. (I read the some of the fan fiction, too. The link is here, if you want to see it.) The fan fiction was based on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight characters.
Miss Icedragon then changed the names of the characters, edited the story, and released the book for sale on the Amazon Kindle. The book sold…like huge. (It was enormously popular as fan fiction, also.) The edited book, Fifty Shades of Grey, is currently sitting at the #1 spot on Amazon’s website for overall Kindle sales, and the #1 spot in a few other categories. (Oh, and there are other books in this series…didn’t read those.)
The scuttlebutt: Some writers of ebooks are commenting about this book, to the tune of “What’s so great about this book?” and “It was fan fiction, for crying out loud!” and “Why hasn’t anyone noticed my BDSM?” and “You’d think nobody had ever written any erotica before!”
My thought was, “Hey, her early draft was fan fiction…so what? The final draft isn’t. And she did write it—unlike a few “writers” who’ve come to light recently who stole someone else’s fan fiction and called it their own.
“And people like the book. Jay Leno talked about it on his show. Fox News ran a segment. People are buying it. The author is making money off it. How is this a problem for anybody?”
Well, it’s not a problem for me. The book—it was okay. There are better ones out there. I won’t be reading the others in the series. To each his own.
Sure would be nice to know what specifically about it struck such a chord with readers though…that would be one valuable piece of information.