Friday, 27 July 2012


I've run across a number of erotica writers who've said they haven't and won't be reading Fifty Shades of Grey.  In all honestly, this blows my mind. You can try to dismiss it, as many critics have, by calling it 'mommy porn'. You can deplore its writing style - lord knows, even die-hard fans don't attempt to defend the poor quality of the prose. But you can't ignore the fact that it has now sold over 20 Million copies in the US. In the UK it became the fastest selling novel of all time.

As writers, it is important for us to interrogate its success and to attempt to understand what it means for the genre, for levels of explicitness in mainstream fiction, and for the way publishers are going to inevitably behave in the light of it.

I have a theory…

To read about Remittance Girl’s theory; click here.



  1. I just read Remittance Girl's blog. I think her theory's right. The hamfistedness of the writing helps to sell the basic concept and engage the reader in a salacious way. It was the right product at the right time, in a market that's become more prepared to engage with transgressive material.

    There's no point in being catty and critical about FSOG - and I guess we can now hope that since it has broken into the mass market, at least some readers will start looking for more explicit, sex- and bdsm-positive, and better-written material. Like yours. And mine.

  2. As a writer of erotica, I think it is definitely worth reading to understand the material and learn from what it has done, both for marketing and content reasons. Not reading it, in my opinion, is an act born of spite. Unless of course, the writer's whole point is to not be influenced by others who toil in the same genre. There are likely some horror authors who have never read Stephen King or Lovecraft, but very few I bet.
    I do agree that her popularity, like Twilight and Harry Potter, is simply a result of luck and good timing. Readers were looking for something different. The next big book will likely not be an erotic novel at all, but something else entirely.

  3. Thank you Fulani, and thank you Patrick. I think that RG's essay is great -- she makes her points with clarity, without getting swept up in the emotional hype.

    I have made a point of reading 50 Shades -- I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Since closing the book I have gone through various stages -- at each stage adjusting my attitude.

    More than anything I was irritated -- all three of us write enough erotica to know that what passes as erotica in E.L. James' book is not erotica at all. It is about a silly girl getting out of her depth with a sophisticated man and deciding, like so many women do in the real world, that she can change him.

    And changed him she does -- does the reader feel safer because she changes him?

    At a party, a few weeks ago, there was a group of women excitedly talking about 50 Shades. How exciting it was, how dirty. I decided to come out from hiding behind billierosie. I told some people face to face that I write erotica, others I told on Facebook.

    Mostly people giggle and blush and I giggle and blush along with them. The people who have read my stuff, are a little shy with me now -- at least the boyfriends and husbands of the women who read my sample chapter are.

    I think that 50 Shades has brought about an awareness that erotica is out there. Certainly, of the women I have talked to, not one had dipped a toe into the twilight world of erotica. They'd never heard of BDSM.