I am lying on a sunlounger, by the pool at our rented villa in Spain. The temperature is 36C in the shade. Hotter still, though, is the content of my Kindle 4, as I read page after page of graphic sado-masochistic sex scenes, interspersed with slivers of a great thriller plot and an excellent cast of well-drawn characters.
Yes, I am devouring the Fifty Shades trilogy, which is currently raking in a huge sum of money for E L James. I am in awe! I am Fifty Shades of Green with Envy.
The books strike me like a combination of Harlequin Mills and Boon, the Marquis de Sade and Twilight, rolled into one. A blushing virgin, a masterful alpha male, (well, scary control-freak, similar thing), shivers of awareness, and meaningful eye contact morphing into whips, chains, floggers and butt plugs (yikes!) with hot vampire Edward Cullen replaced by hot sexual deviant Christian Grey, and Jacob the werewolf / frustrated admirer replaced by José.
I am even more intrigued to feel a sense of recognition about the leading male character. Then I realise why Christian Grey seems familiar. Holy Shit! My inner goddess does a triple-salco in astonishment. Christian Grey is an extreme extension of Julius Korda, my very first Harlequin Mills and Boon hero, in my very first published novel MELTING ICE (M&B 1989). Like Christian, Julius has a harrowing childhood. Julius’s feckless drug addict birth mother abandons him to social care when he is six. He endures years of care homes, is fostered then sent back for bad behaviour, his mother briefly reclaims him at seven then abandons him again. He then drags himself out of the darkness and becomes a self-made multi-millionaire. Understandably, he has relationship/commitment issues as a result of it all. And in fact, now that I think about it, Anastasia Steele seems familiar, too. Holy cow! My subconscious raises an eyebrow above her half-moon specs. Victoria Francis, my first heroine, is a naive, impulsive, history-book-loving virgin, who flings herself into a sexual encounter with Julius without thinking it through at all. Spooky. And just as I am contemplating re-releasing MELTING ICE as an e-book trilogy, with an extended thriller plot involving someone from Julius’s murky past threatening the family, here is Jack Hyde the psychopath, fellow victim of childhood deprivation, coming out of Christian Grey’s murky past to balance the score. My inner goddess rubs her eyes and shakes her head despairingly. I am told there’s such a thing as the ‘collective unconscious’ that does this to writers.
Anyway, all praise and acclaim to E L James. She’s pulled off an amazing feat. Brought erotic fiction to a new level. Made it perfectly acceptable to be seen reading porn, and to publicly discuss kinky-fuckery, as Christian Grey calls it.
My husband is leaning over my shoulder as I lie on my sunlounger.
“Why are you clicking the screen-forward button so quickly?” he complains, “This looks like a good bit.”
Jeez, get your own Kindle, I think. How to explain that after a while, a serial overdose of explicit sex scenes can get just a tiny bit… boring?
“It’s just another sex scene”, I explain, “I’m fast-forwarding to the next bit of exciting plot!”
And I roll my eyes at him, hoping it doesn’t give him any ideas of manacling me to the bed and spanking me with a riding crop.
Although…hmmm… My inner goddess hastily dives into the pool.