Wednesday, March 14, 2012
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.]
Posted by Kinsey Holley at 5:00 AM