I was at a romance author party recently, and a publishing person told me she’d never read Fifty Shades of Grey.
‘Hang on a minute,’ I said. ‘Your job is to sell books, and you haven’t read the BESTSELLING book of all time?’
‘I don’t see why I should fill my head with that rubbish’, she replied.
Rubbish? Ha! SHE’D NEVER EVEN READ THE BOOK!!
She didn’t get it. Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT rubbish. Not at all. It just doesn’t fit with some people’s template of a ‘worthy’ book. Yet it is one of the worthiest books ever written. Why? Because it is one of the bravest books ever written. It’s broken down boundaries, created honest discussion and given enjoyment to millions of people – many of whom hadn’t read a book in years.
And we all love books, right? And a good romance author? So when are the Twitter trolls and literary snobs going to leave EL James alone? Okay … you don’t like Fifty Shades. It’s not your type of book. That’s fine. We get it. But do you know what? For those of us who LOVED the Fifty Shades Trilogy, it’s a damn good book and does everything we want it to do.
Here is the thing. There are different types of books. And just because a book doesn’t use poetic language, extensive vocabulary and literary techniques like sylleptic narration (See? – I do know this stuff, even if I don’t use it), doesn’t make it inferior. It simply makes it a different type of book.
Now, literary snobs – pay attention. EL James has done an amazing thing with Fifty Shades. Something you have missed. She has been extremely, extremely brave. Go on – you try writing about your own subversive sexual preferences and putting it out there for everyone to read. And not just out there. Promote it on the internet! I dare you! Not so easy, is it?
If you consider yourself courageous, try writing sex scenes and have other people read them. Now try writing subversive sex scenes – the kinds most people haven’t seen before. It’s difficult. Many famous authors I know can’t write sex scenes. Not because they don’t have the talent. But because they don’t have the courage.
Writing beautiful, poetic language, rich in symbolism and metaphor IS easy. Trust me. I’m a writer. It’s not as hard as people make out. Sure, it takes time. And yes – an elegantly written, poetic page of prose is … well, beautiful. It holds you still. But it doesn’t show a lot of courage. Not really.
Fifty Shades of Grey not only broke down boundaries, it paved the way for a whole bunch of us romance writers – me included – to write what MILLIONS of readers WANT TO READ!
It’s no coincidence that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally self-published. The snobby publishing world would never have let it out the gate. Not until it had a huge following.
Now, everything is different. We pay much more attention to what READERS want. Bravo! And not every reader wants a weighty, worthy literary novel. Sometimes they do. But sometimes they want an easy-to-read, escapist romance that challenges their emotions.
So EL James, thank you. For changing the literary world, for paving the way and being the bravest romance author I know.
Love, Suzy K Quinn xxx