Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Fifty Shades Fan Girl for Life...why I will be forever grateful to EL James.

In early 2011 I got married, I was working two full time jobs, and my life was full and busy, late nights and early mornings were an everyday occurrence, I was slowly becoming tired, melancholy and burnt out. I had started to forget about me, I wasn't depressed per say, but I wasn't waking up every day grateful for a new day, I needed a holiday, but would of happily settled for a full day off. 2012 started with more of the same, long days, longer night, sore feet from jobs in retail and hospitality, back pain, lack of sleep and ultimately a lack of motivation started my downhill descent into a period I'm glad to be out of. As the early months of 2012 began to pass there seemed to be a book that was making waves in the romance world. You might remember it, black cover with a simple grey tie... I'd heard whisperings, I was mildly intrigued.

One of my staff came in to work one morning and in between unpacking and hanging boxes of clothes and serving customers she mentioned she had bought a new book in an effort to get back into reading, the title... FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by EL James. This book was sexy, super sexy, with a narrative cloaked in the BDSM realm, something I had no experience or knowledge of, it was the tale of a young Anastasia Steele and the enigmatic Christian Grey. Jenn asked me to read it with her, I agreed, it had been a while since I was utterly obsessed with a book, Twilight and The Bronze Horseman had been and gone and I secretly hoped this book would capture my imagination the way they had.

My team of eleven was almost entirely female, save for two young men who were unfussed by the idea of joining out group read, the rest of us however raced out to buy our paperbacks and start. Text messages would be the start of this new wondrous dialogue that Fifty would inspire, the following morning bleary eyed we counted in floats and opened the store, a chorus of ohhhhs and ahhhhhs and constant discussion about this whole new world we had discovered together. We devoured the trilogy, but more importantly I devoured them, I lost sleep and didn't care, I found myself sneaking to the back room "to check for something" to read one more page, I was utterly and unequivocally obsessed. I had amassed multiple copies of Grey, Darker and Freed as people asked to borrow my books and I feared they might not return them.  I walked back into Borders Books and asked what I needed to read next and left with a shiny new copy of Bared to You by Sylvia Day.

Shortly after I took to google to ask what was next, finding Maryse Black's blog and discovered the world of Kindle and ebooks. I was fervent in my thirst for new titles, new worlds to discover. Slowly but surely I not only l discovered new characters to love but rediscovered myself. I found a joy that was mine, I found a sense of peace when I read, I found a way to just be for the first time in a long time.

I devoured books in a somewhat solitary manner for over a year, adding Authors as friends on Facebook and building my e-library. It wasn't until late 2013 that stirrings of book signings in Australia focused solely on the Romance genre really took shape. Indie and Trad published authors would be there to meet and speak to in person...all these years later and I still can't quite believe just how big of an impact picking up Fifty Shades of Grey would have on my life.

These random musings of mind would still be swirling around in my head, my closest and dearest friends would be living their lives and we would have never met. That incredible trip to Paris and the UK in 2016 for Four Brits Book Fest would be a figment of my imagination. The millions upon millions of words that have been published by thousands upon thousands of Romance Authors would still be trapped on saved files on laptops and computers around the world, because they would have never seen the explosion of Anastasia and Christian and thought to themselves WHY NOT ME?

With the release of Fifty Shades Freed on the big screen the inevitable naysayers are pulling out and dusting off their soap boxes ready for one final hurrah. People who haven't read the books are quick to remark that their relationship is abusive, others snicker behind their hands that it's mummy porn, other's complain about how the story was not to their liking, even throwing out that their books are far better. It seems it's easy to forget that the fact that there is now a billion dollar romance industry that allows them to push publish was spurned on by the release and subsequent success of that book they like to raise their pitch forks at. Fifty Shades very clearly gave romance and erotic romance readers not only a voice but a buying power that was entirely unheard of previously. 2012 saw authors like Colleen Hoover, Abbi Glines, Tammara Webber, launch successful careers, we saw Samantha Towle and Samantha Young capture our hearts with Jake Wethers and Braden Carmichael, we saw Jodi Ellen Malpas bring to life The Lord of the Manor, we discovered and devoured countless heroes and heroines in an effort to stave off our seemingly unquenchable thirst. 

As I sit here still encased in a Christian Grey shaped fog from last nights viewing of Fifty Shades Freed, I am overcome with emotions, I smile freely reminiscing about all that has happened since first hearing the name EL James, and hope that one day I can genuinely thank her for giving us something that so many of us truly needed. 


  1. "It seems it's easy to forget that the fact that there is now a billion dollar romance industry that allows them to push publish was spurned on by the release and subsequent success of that book they like to raise their pitch forks at."

    To be fair, the romance industry have been thriving and earning billions long before Fifty Shades.

    I'm not maligning the books or EL James or the whole indie industry but let's also acknowledge that there was already a thriving billion dollar market before 50 Shades. To say otherwise is erasing the blood and sweat of the authors that came before her.

    1. While that is true, and a mistake on my part to put it in so simple terms, the invent of such a thriving indie industry and indeed the rise of ebooks has without a doubt exploded post Fifty Shades. Previous to that unless represented by a publisher getting romance titles noticed was almost unheard of.