Can you hear that collective howl of ‘OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE!’ yet? Apparently, EL James has put out a fifth 50 Shades book – this time, it’s the second part of the original trilogy, only written from Creepy Christian’s POV. (And no I am not fucking linking to it. You won’t exactly have to struggle to get your copy, if you want one.)
Oh, for fuck’s sake. Who’s idea was this, I wonder? There’s obviously going to be a part six at some point, as there were three of the first version, so there have to be all three of the rewrites – can’t someone give the poor woman a break? Can’t someone give the rest of us a break? There is really no shortage whatsoever of atrociously-written erotica featuring rich ‘damaged’ dominant dickheads and simpering you-don’t-know-you’re-beautiful Mary Sues, after all. It was hardly an original idea in the first place: not only did 50 Shades start out as Twilight fanfic, but the whole concept is nothing more than a kinky-ish version of Beauty and the Beast, if you want to go right down to archetypes.
Most writers have lots of ideas – even if we get a little tired of non-writers going ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ We may return to our favourite characters or settings, and there is nothing at all wrong with writing an ongoing series – where would crime fiction be without the detectives who appear in book after book, becoming more of a brand than the author? Plenty of erotica writers also write trilogies or multi-volume stories with a single narrative arc.
But there’s a difference between carrying on with the action in your created universe, and having one, single, unoriginal idea that you are absolutely flogging to death. People who don’t like and don’t read romance, or erotica, or genre fiction, will often sniffily say that they don’t touch the stuff because it’s ‘all the same’, which is exasperating to those of us who have read plenty of innovative, enthralling, surprising erotica showcasing all kinds of sexualities, body types and motivations.
The first 50 Shades trilogy was, we all know, a publishing phenomenon like no other. There have been films as well as branded sex toy ranges and other spin-offs. Ms James is hardly in the position of the one-hit wonder who has to tour the seaside resorts doing cover versions to pad out the set, or annually releasing a remix of said only hit, to keep the rent paid and food on the table. So it’s pretty difficult to see what the actual point of rehashing the books might be. The one thing it definitely isn’t is a love of writing erotica. Because people who love writing have lots of ideas, and something they really want to say.
To be honest, I have a sinking feeling that in a couple of years’ time we will get a third version, written from the point of view of the flatmate, then the books as if by the other bloke who fancied Analgesia or whatever her name was, and ultimately Chuck Tingle could be drafted in to produce a set detailing the thoughts, feelings and orgasms of Christian Grey’s helicopter. Because even EL James will have to get bored of this stuff eventually. Or her publishers will. You can only milk anything for a finite amount of time.