Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let's talk about That Book

Please note for the record that I did NOT forget that tomorrow was my turn to blog--at least, not exactly. I saw the calendar notice this morning and said to myself, "Ah. Okay. I'll write a post when I get home." I even knew what I wanted to write about. Then I got home and immediately went to work helping Hub move more stuff into the barn in preparation for next week's foundation repair and attendant remodeling and I didn't think about the blog until about 15 minutes ago. And no, I can't recall what I wanted to post about, okay?

But. I did write a post over the weekend concerning That Book ("Fifty Shades of Oh My God! Rich Yankee Chicks are Reading a Durty Book! What Does It All Mean"?), and it went up at my place today. Also today, Jane at Dear Author did a post comparing 50 Shades of Gray to its predecessor, the Twilight fanfic entitled Master of the Universe. The Random House imprint that's going to publish FSOG for mass distribution asserts in its marketing that the book is NOT a retelling of Master of the Universe; i.e., they are claiming that E.L. James did not pull her fanfic story, slaps some cursory changes on it, and then publish it for profit. So Jane ran the two books through some comparison programs and let's just say that, if we were talking about two college papers, the author of one of them would be facing academic discipline.

The comment thread for the post is extremely interesting (or at least I thought so). I've never read the Twilight saga, or MOTU, or FSOG and I don't plan to. I did wonder how closely MOTU/FSOG (because let's be honest people, they're the same book) stuck to Edward and Bella's story; see comment 46 for a lengthy plot-point-by-plot-point comparison.

I'm interested in what y'all think, as writers and/or as readers. I've read some fanfic but never published any, and I've never been involved in any fanfic communities. I do think I understand why so much of the fanfic community feels that James' behavior has been extremely unethical, at best. I admit I kind of want to see Stephanie Meyer go after her, but maybe Meyer's lawyers don't feel she has a case. As I address in my post, I strongly believe that readers should be allowed to read and write fanfic, and I've never agreed with those authors who consider it a danger to their brands or a dilution of their own work. Something like this, though, could have a chilling effect on fanfic.

James is not guilty of plagiarism but still, it feels to me like she did something wrong when she published FSOG for sale. Christian and Anna are clearly Edward and Bella; they have the same family structures, the same friend relationships, and their romance follows the same path. OTOH, it's not like Twilight introduced any new concepts to the YA, romance or vampire genres, and I think Edward and Bella can be charitably called stock characters. So is writing fanfic for profit okay as long as the work you imitate is derivative to begin with?

Finally, do you know anyone who's asked you about FSOG? Has a friend sidled up to you at a kid's birthday party and asked you about it in the same tone of voice they might use if they were looking to score some drugs or arrange a hit on their husband? Do you have friends or family members who've never read romance, or at least not erotic romance, and they're both intrigued at the concept of mommy porn yet somewhat embarrassed to ask about it? (Yes, I hate the term too, but come on - that's what people who don't know any better are calling it.)

My non-romance reading friends have asked me about it, and all I've said so far is that the origins of the story bug me and I've read enough negative reviews to know it's not my type of book. But I do enjoy well written erotic romance, and I've been recommending different authors to different people.

If your sister-in-law asked you for recommendations for good dirty romance (I do like that term, BTW), what titles/authors would you suggest?

This could be a great opportunity to introduce the romance genre to women who've previously scoffed at it. So how do we spread the word?

[NOTE: If you've read FSOG and liked it, by all means please speak up. I'm very comfortable judging a book I've never read, but I can understand why others would object to it.]


Kelly Jamieson said...

Would it be okay to

If someone was intrigued by the BDSM aspect of FSOG (the treatment of which is the reason *I* won't read it), I have several BDSM books that have been well received. In particular, Power Shift features a dark, tortured here - but in my book he uses BDSM to get past his history and become a better man. He doesn't have to be "cured" of it. He needs to be understood and loved. The heroine of Power Shift at one time was an innocent, protected young woman who has had to start over and is now strong enough to deal with the hero and his preferences - which I understand is different than FSOG. Heroines in my BDSM stories are all strong, independent women who learn that submission requires great strength.

Hey I think I'll go write a blog post about this... :-D

Kelly Jamieson said...

ER dark tortured HERO

Kinsey Holley said...

Of course it would! I've told a couple of the women who've talked about the book with me, "One of my co-bloggers writes BDSM that isn't stupid or boring!" Not sure they'd tell if they buy them - the whole subject sort of appalls but fascinates them, you know? Like it's something they don't think anyone should know they're reading - which is sad.

Polly20 said...

I have read the FSOG trilogy - and loved it - and I have many efriends who also love it.

I read it before I knew it was supposed to be fanfic of the Twilight series. I struggled to finish the first Twilight book, and have gone no further with that series. There was something obscene (to me) about a 70-something guy (vampire or not) pretending to be a 17-ish boy falling in love with a 17-ish girl. (See, I can't even remember the details!!)

I just enjoyed the Fifty series for its own sake. To me it was erotic romance at its best (and while much of the sex is hot and intense, it is basically a love story). The references to music were informing, and when they played 'Spem in Alium' on the radio the other morning, all I could think of was the scene where Christian played it for Ana in his playroom.

I hope you do give the books a chance. I think they're worth the effort.