Every year, there's a publishing phenomenon that takes the book world by storm. This year, it's a lucratively kinky and unashamedly non-literary knicker-ripper.
There’s a possibility you haven’t heard of this latest addition to the genre sharp-witted publishing pundits are already calling Thrills and Boon, but then there’s also a possibility you still think Paul Henry is a lovely man and you haven’t quite worked out why there hasn’t been a new Michael Jackson album recently.
Fifty Shades of Grey (see also sequels Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed, Fifty Shades and the Order of the Phoenix and Fifty Shades: the Leather Bound and Gagged Edition) is the fastest selling paperback of all time, with more than 20 million women worldwide (at last count) surprising their partners with requests to be tied to things and tickled since its publication last year. (It’s also the fastest selling title so far on e-book reader Kindle.)
You might have to knock on a lot of doors before you’ll meet someone who’d call FSOG a great work of literature, so it might not surprise readers to learn that it began life as a work of fan fiction, posted online and based loosely on the Twilight series of vampire novels. A few reworks later, in May 2011, the first volume was released in Australia as an e-book and print-on-demand paperback.
Demand there was, principally from married women over 30, and the rest was publishing history.
Reaction to the saucy trilogy hasn’t been entirely positive; as well as receiving a sound thrashing from critics worldwide, (which, admittedly, it might have enjoyed) not every man has been thrilled to find his partner more engaged in Christian Grey’s fictional shenanigans than his own close-to-home charms. Englishman Raymond Hodgson was so incensed at his partner Emma’s obsession with the books that he, naturally, squirted her with HP Sauce when she refused to stop reading them.
Whether author E.L. James lost much sleep over losing Emma as a reader isn’t known. It seems unlikely, though; James (real name Kinky McKinkster) has reportedly closed a film deal with the producers of Facebook movie The Social Network and while stories of Fifty Shades of Grey: The Musical are currently taking the piss, it might not be long before it’s taking the stage.