Wednesday, 2 January 2013
E L James
You know, I actually felt a little bit of empathy for E L James when I saw Katie Couric interview her about her Fifty Shades series in front of a live audience; what struck me was, that here was a woman overwhelmed by the ‘relative’ success of her book.
Love it or hate it, and I have to admit the sample chapter was more than I could get through because of the writing, but it was kind of painful to watch her try to be interested in talking about her book at all, in fact she spent most of the interview squirming, hardly did any of the speaking; guests and members of the audience, as well as Katie herself, doing it all for her while she swung her foot constantly, scratched her head and looked completely mortified while unable to answer anything she was being asked, trying to come up with clever automaton answers that were obviously feigned… like, 'Oh… I wouldn’t be able to say that on national television’, while Katie pushed for specifics about what her favourite sexual fantasy, and the like, might be, to which she finally responded she couldn’t come up with anything off the top of her head.
The truth of the matter is, as perhaps, most writers will know, the worlds created in our books are separate from our real one, we expose our inner selves through our writing, cater to our imagination. Mostly we’re shy and don’t take our stories quite as literally as our readership can, and with all the work involved, can even become sick to death of talking about them without a sort of used up enthusiasm. There were spurts of E L trying to find a comfort level; joking around here and there with Katie in that English way that she would do more authentically with her best mates up the pub; 'Oh come on Katie...' she cajoled about something a tad risqué that seemed to be over Katie's pristine head despite her wearing a leather dress for the occasion - which actually she looked great in. And I don’t blame her; questions from the audience including asking her advice on what sex toys to buy and what shops are best to get them from, plus talking about her characters as if they were real people, like, 'How could he be so rich being so young?' & 'How could she orgasm, as a virgin in a way that women haven’t been able to do after years?', her response, evidently annoyed, perhaps having been asked a million times; simply, that it's only a story, she’s not a sex therapist, only wrote the book for her own enjoyment, jotting down her own fantasies, and then she said, 'I would just buy a tie' - which was perhaps the one good response she did give. Come on now... it’s fiction, people... learn to discern it from reality; after all, all those writers who have their characters hacked to pieces don't go around doing that, others not actually travelling to alternate fantasy worlds where people have names that could be across between Welsh and Klingon. Do they? She even said at one point that she really didn’t understand why there was so much hype surrounding this book; that it only started out as fan fiction after all... but that's mainstream publishing for you; people do get carried away because everyone else and their dog is; the art of brainwashing marketing techniques obviously still rife. Still effective.
But I think what is evident, the hype, the thing that has come from this series, is a liberation of sorts for women to say its alright to speak about these kinds of bedroom activities openly now, the book simply a portal to that; E L James just happened along the way; acceptable to like something other than vampires now... and for many who weren't already doing it, the opportunity to write about their sexual fantasies freely for, from what I've seen, erotica, and or porn, huge amid writers currently.
Small price to pay though, I would think, for this kind of success, to have to do the interviews, and so, while I do feel some sympathy for her, at least she can reap and enjoy the benefits when it's all over, even have a platform to jump from now to promote her future works. I think most writers would envy that.