Today I’d like to welcome fellow Ohio author, Sandra Gurvis. I’ve had the pleasure of bumping into this spunky, sassy lady all around the state this year. She’s a lot of fun and here to share her thoughts on something we can all relate to. She tells it better, so I’m going to let her do it!
50 SHADES OF LITERARY PENIS ENVY
Last March, when I first heard about 50 SHADES OF GREY, my immediate and visceral reaction was, “Yuck. You’ve got to be kidding me! This is the next BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, only worse because it cheapens sexuality and demeans women.”
Why didn’t my recently published ebook-turned-paperback COUNTRY CLUB WIVES meet with the same enthusiastic reception by readers, gazillion-dollar sales and movie rights wars? What did the author, E.L. James have that I didn’t? (Short answer: A real flair for writing scenes involving BDSM)
OK, so COUNTRY CLUB WIVES is a total fail in the bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism category. In fact there’s hardly any graphic sex in my novel at all, although much is implied and the riches-to-rags saga of women, money and homeless animals in “New Albany, oops, New Wellington, Ohio” has garnered it share of positive reviews. But it still doesn’t take away the fact that I spent eight years pouring my heart and soul into it, much as I have with my 13 other nonfiction books and one other novel over the course of a 30-year writing career.
So I decided to investigate the phenomenon. Not by reading 50 SHADES itself – I was able to dodge that bullet, thanks to dozens of reviewers, reporters and Amazon reviews. As a divorced woman past menopause with two grown children (and one grandchild on the way), “mommy porn” is about as interesting to me as say, HIGHLIGHTS IN THE HISTORY OF CONCRETE (http://www.amazon.com/Highlights-History-Concrete-Christopher-Stanley/dp/072101156X). Rather, I decided to lift up the curtain and try to get a glimpse of the actual wizard. And what I found surprised me.
For one thing, rather than being a professional pornographer or product of some publisher’s ingenuity, E.L. James is actually a real person, one Erika Leonard, a middle-aged, married now-former London TV executive with two teenagers. For another, 50 SHADES started out as “fan fiction” of TWILIGHT, yet another series of books, I’ve managed to avoid (I’m more of a zombie enthusiast). In fan fiction, people use the characters and settings from another writer’s work to create their own plot. Sort of like SCARLETT, the sequel to GONE WITH THE WIND but without actual publication, money and copyright issues.
After allegedly being drummed out of the TWILIGHT corps for being “too pornographic” (well, duh), James published her manuscript– which she told the Chicago Tribune took her only a few months to write – on FiftyShades.com, which now cleverly redirects you to her promotional Web site (http://www.eljamesauthor.com). James renamed her main characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and split the book into three parts, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, published in May 2011 as print-on-demand/ebook by the Australia-based Writers’ Coffee Shop, FIFTY SHADES DARKER (the following September) and FIFTY SHADES FREED (Jan. 2012), the latter of which conjures up even smuttier mental images. As anyone who’s ever worked with small/indie publishers knows, most publicity comes from blogs, reader reviews, and word-of-mouth.
So basically that pretty much levels the playing field – E.L./Erika started with the same tools that most authors have today. Through timing, a sense of what people wanted to read – what she herself told numerous publications she enjoyed reading/writing — and just plain luck, she won the literary equivalent of the lottery. She basically wrote 50 SHADES for the same reasons most of us write our books.
She just has a much dirtier mind. Meanwhile, I’m going back to reading ON THE ISLAND.
Thank you Sandra 50 Shades is definitely a phenomenon. I love the attention it’s brought to fan fiction, which is a secret love of mine. You just never know what you’ll find your favorite characters doing in those stories….I guess this book is a prime example!
Here are a couple titles Sanrda has written:
Sex. Money. Murder. Drama. Housewives…And homeless animals! All run amok in the affluent suburb of New Wellington! Tish McLean has been left high and dry, both financially and emotionally, by Brian, her husband of over 20 years. To make matters worse, Brian is about to marry the social chameleon Susan, Tish’s one close unattached friend. As Tish struggles to realize her dream of opening a shelter for homeless animals—and her love with a very married veterinarian who has big problems of his own—she strips away the cubic zirconium studded underbelly of country club society. What she finds may shock you—and make you laugh!
The Pipe Dreamers by Sandra Gurvis
Like Kent State in the late 1960′s, Hayes University was in a sleepy Ohio college town. Julia Brandon, an innocent sorority girl, was in for an awakening, both emotionally and physically. Trouble begins when she tries to bail her radical roommate out of jail and escalates as she becomes increasingly involved with the protest movement, which erupts in violence, death, and destruction. She falls irrevocably in love with handsome, carefree, soon-to-be drafted Win, who steals her heart, entombing her emotionally.
Fifteen years later, trapped in an arid life, Julia catches a glimpse of a man whom she believes to be Win while on a cruise. She embarks upon a journey which leads her to the brink of devastation. Can she accept the truth about what happened so long ago without destroying herself and those she loves?
For those who lived through it, The Pipe Dreamers recaptures the turmoil surrounding Vietnam, the sexual revolution, and the rejection of parental values. For those who did not, it’s an eye-opening revelation of what Mom and Dad were really up to back then.
Sandra Gurvis (www.sgurvis.com, www.booksaboutthe60s.com) is the author of 15 books, including Country Club Wives (Loconeal, 2012) (http://loconeal.com/store/country-club-wives) and just re-released on Kindle, The Pipe Dreamers (Olmstead, 2001) (http://www.amazon.com/The-Pipe-Dreamers-ebook/dp/B007PYHD5E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1341945718&sr=8-2&keywords=the+pipe+dreamers). Unlike 50 SHADES OF GREY, her ebooks are $4.99 and $1.99, respectively and a portion of the proceeds are donated to animal shelters. However, if you’re looking for cheap ($2.99) thrills, there’s I B Naughty’s 50 SHADES OF BLACK AND BLUE (http://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Shades-Black-Blue-ebook/dp/B007X5T4M0/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341945025&sr=1-7&keywords=50+shades+of+gray), although, er, satisfaction may not be guaranteed.
Other recent titles by Sandra include Ohio Curiosities 2nd ed. (Globe Pequot, 2011); Paris Hilton: A Biography (Greenwood, 2011); and Day Trips from Columbus,3rd ed.(Globe Pequot, 2009). Her books have been featured in newspapers, television, and radio stations across the country; and have been excerpted in magazines. Sandra has also written extensively on business and medical topics and lectures frequently on writing, the ’60s, and her books. She has been selected for residencies and fellowships and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). She lives in Columbus, Ohio.