E.L. James on 50 Shades backlash: ‘I’m a successful, middle-aged, overweight woman’

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The book 50 Shades of Grey celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2022, having been unleashed on the literary world in February 2012. They are celebrating with a release, with the new cover below. The book, which began as Twilight fan fiction, went meteoric in months and stayed at number one for 20 weeks. Everyone who read it had an opinion, generally they loved or hated it. Many people felt the two leads, Ana and Christian’s relationship was abusive. E.L. claimed it was supposed to showcase a healthy exploration of BDSM. The writing was criticized, the characters were eviscerated, E.L. was dragged through the mud – and yet, the book kept selling. And then a movie deal got sold. Now, 10-years looking back, E.L. was asked if she expected the backlash and she said yes.

Has she ever met Stephenie Meyer?: No, I haven’t. I’d love to, a great deal. She just flipped the switch and she (inspired) so many people and so many of my author friends met through the “Twilight” fan fiction world… I’m a Twihard through and through.

On if the backlash surprised James, specifically in 2015 during a Twitter Q&A: No, I’m a successful woman. A successful, middle-aged, overweight woman.

On anticipating the haters?: I did. Oh God, yes… I spent half an hour before saying, “Guys, you need to get on top of this trolling,” and then it happened and I didn’t actually see any of it. It was fun. And it was one of those things where you think, “I’m not sure if this is a good idea,” and it just makes you think to trust your gut always… If you put yourself out there and you become phenomenally successful, people will be absolutely and utterly (expletive) to you… I’ve got quite sanguine about it. I try and avoid it. I don’t want to upset people. I hadn’t set out to upset people.

On whether Ana and Christian’s relationship is toxic: It’s their relationship. It’s not called “Fifty Shades of Black and White.” It’s called “Fifty Shades of Grey.” So there we go. It’s their relationship. People project what they think these people should be doing. People are random. People are strange. I mean, Christian is probably one of the most damaged people that I’ve ever had come into contact with, so what you think of it is down to you.

We’re done with the Greys: I think by writing “Freed,” which is from Christian’s point of view, I filled in some of the gaps and we find out more about him and you know, why he is the way he is… I think that we’ve left them in a good place.

[From Yahoo]

I only read one of E.L.’s Grey books and did not care for any part of it so I didn’t read any more. I didn’t have a problem with their success because there was obviously a desire for that kind of thing. My only objection is that BDSM is not my kink and it felt like every erotic best seller for the next five years centered around BDSM. I can’t outright dismiss E.L.’s comments, but I know other romance/erotic authors who fit her description who did not receive the same blowback. If I had to focus on one issue, I think her massive success probably got to a lot a people. Tall poppy syndrome or something.

The authors I know, however, also wrote original stories. Formulaic, but not riding the coattails of a major franchise that had already proven itself. I appreciate the credit E.L. gave Stephanie Meyer here, but I have to assume there’s a reason Stephanie never sought her out. Again, I don’t have anything against E.L. I don’t need to read her books and I didn’t watch the movies. I do know that E.L.’s success has nothing to do with my success so if she’s living pretty because she had a best-selling idea, good for her. Even hate-reading lines her pockets – I’m sure she doesn’t care.

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85 Responses to “E.L. James on 50 Shades backlash: ‘I’m a successful, middle-aged, overweight woman’”

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  1. K says:

    I’m just going to say it. Awful, dreadful crapp writing but my god, the money she raked in. Good for her!

    • PPP says:

      Those books gaslit a generation of women into accepting abuse as some kind of BDSM dynamic. The BDSM community hates this book because of the damage it’s done, it has attracted abusers that pass themselves off as doms to the scene, and it inculcates ignorance in women by glorifying boundary crossing and poor practices. I have no doubt women have died from abuse they have accepted due to this book. The woman is disgusting.

      • Gemma says:

        I mean, the BDSM community has always had abuse problems and continues to do so, but yeah, this made it so much worse and so much easier for people calling out problems to be discarded as some prude shrew who opposes FSOG.

        And as many other people have said in this thread, my problem with the book wasn’t that she got successful, my problem was that it was just really really bad. On all accounts. There’s so much better written fanfiction out there, so much better smut, but this drivel got turned into a franchise somehow.

    • Wordcandy says:

      She ripped off like 90% of her storyline from Stephanie Meyer. This wasn’t a “there are only 7 plots in the world” situation: the vast majority of her scenes, characters, plot development, and conversations are all directly lifted from ‘Twilight’, and just skim-coated with a kinky twist. I’m not saying she committed a crime, but it’s ridiculous to say that people resent her success because of her age or weight. They resent her because she “earned” it by taking an already massively successful series, and then slightly reworking it into something that managed to be both kinky and *just* socially acceptable/notorious enough to be read on the subway (or wherever).

    • AlpineWitch says:

      She should have been sued for plagiarism though as her books were heavily ‘lifted’ from a fanfic written by someone else in the Twilight fandom.

      • Ange says:

        Her other book The Mister was also a pretty direct rip off of Poldark. She doesn’t like to think for herself, that one.

  2. Lucía says:

    I don’t care for 50 Shades at all but I like what she says here.

  3. Songs (Or It Didn't Happen) says:

    I remember cursing her name when Fifty Shades first exploded and people just DID NOT understand that you couldn’t just walk in to Barnes & Noble or BaM! and buy it, you *had* to order it online. Uggghhh.

    But I don’t think she got any more criticism than Stephenie Meyer did, and many of the same ones.

  4. Haylie says:

    I’m glad she got her bag, but those books/films truly did suck. I feel the same way about Twilight. But it’s not like men don’t get famous and wealthy for putting out shit lit and films, so…

  5. Becks1 says:

    I mean, good for her. She wrote something (fan fiction, but she still wrote it) and it made $$$$.

    That said, I’ve tried a few times to read the first 50 Shades book and its just bad. It’s not even the sex/erotica part, I can never get that far. It’s just bad writing. I remember someone saying to me when it came out “this is just BAD smut. If you want smut, I have better recs” lol. I get that her name is Anastasia Steele and his name is Christian Grey but how many times were those two colors referenced in the first 5 pages of the book alone? (that’s about as far as I got). I tried to watch the movie and same thing. It was just BAD.

    But whatever, it appealed to millions of people and she got paid, so good for her.

    • L84Tea says:

      You know what, this is the first time that has ever occurred to me about the name Steele. I never once ever noticed the “gray” reference! LOL I’m embarrassed to admit I read the first book due to my constant FOMO, and yeah, it is bad. Awful, awful writing.

    • Nic919 says:

      The only thing i ever read of this series was someone who had done a funny recap of the books using excerpts and my god was the writing so bad.

      There was also better written erotica out there with far fewer dangerous messages. If this was not originally a twilight fanfic I doubt it would have gotten any attention.

      And let’s not forget that twilight was poorly written with pretty bizarre messages. The imprinting in particular. Besides Anne Rice covered vampires much better in her series.

      • Waitwhat? says:

        Was that Jenny Trout? Her takedown was so good – hilariously funny but also razor-sharp analysis of both the terrible relationship and the terrible writing.

      • Maggie says:

        +1 twilight was terribly written

      • Becks1 says:

        @Waitwhat oh I bet it was. I’m going to go look for it bc I bet it was hysterical. Jenny trout writes erotic novels as abigail barnette (I think that’s the spelling) and those books are all about a BDSM relationship, so I can see her having thoughts on 50 Shades.

  6. Noki says:

    I never read the books but i saw the movie trilogy and wow for such A list actors the acting was terrible. Awful soap acting!

    • Sarah says:

      Even great actors can only do so much with terribly written dialogue and idiotic story lines. The Star Wards prequel movies are another example of good actors seeming terrible because the dialogue was just so awful.

  7. Doodle says:

    I tried to read it to see what the hype was about but found the actual writing to be so bad I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. Didn’t even make it to the first sex scene.

    BDSM isn’t my kink. A friend of mine writes erotic fiction and goes to conferences for romance authors. I’ve learned about bdsm relationships from her, and she learned from those conferences. Aftercare was never mentioned in the books yet is a huge part of the relationship. Part of the backlash, from what I understand, was that James got the dynamic of a BDSM partnership completely wrong. She didn’t do the work to understand how that sort of relationship works, so when the book became successful people living that lifestyle got pissed off for once again portraying the lifestyle as a bad stereotype. That has actually had a real world ramification – see the Jean Gomeshi 50 shades trial defense in Canada (I digress).

    • AmyB says:

      @Doodle That’s exactly it! She didn’t do any kind of research to understand BDSM. If she thinks that Christian and Ana’s relationship is a “healthy” exploration of BDSM, I have no words LOL! She threw out horrible stereotypes for a community that is already not very well understood by many from the outside. Consent, aftercare – two huge aspects not even addressed. But the most important thing in a true BDSM dynamic does not involve manipulation or coercion with partners. THAT is toxic.
      I don’t begrudge her making millions off her books/movie deal. Go get it girl lol. But her inaccurate and irresponsible portrayal of BDSM just sucked.

    • Jaded says:

      @Doodle – you’re spot on. Jian Ghomeshi’s trial was a train wreck and the women involved either lied about or withheld information pertinent to Ghomeshi’s innocence and their complicity in the type of relationship they had with him. Small wonder I never read this woman’s silly book and I’m glad she got a ton of well-deserved backlash.

      • Robin says:

        Sorry Jaded, if you’re asserting that Gomeshi really is innocent, then you’re going to have to do A LOT more explaining to convince me. He’s free. And I am free to say he is an abuser, and the Canadian legal system doesn’t protect us from abusers like him. It has nothing to do with BDSM.

      • Jaded says:

        @Robin – I’m not asserting Ghomeshi’s innocence or guilt, I’m merely stating the facts that the women involved either lied about or did not reveal information pertinent to their relationships with him. Two of them continued to see him after the alleged assaults took place, one actually emailed him the next morning stating that [paraphrasing] he rocked her world the night before. There was clearly poor behaviour on both sides of this issue.

    • Another Anna says:

      The actual writing itself was subpar to the point that I found even the first few chapters impossible to finish.

      I actually doubt that the backlash had very much to do with James’ appearance. All of the criticisms that I’ve read/heard focus on things like the fact that Christian attempted to control what Ana ate, where she went, who she went with, and what she wore. When you are writing a romantic lead character and you write them as an abuser but try to paint them as misunderstood, you’re gonna get some criticism! She secured her bag, good for her or whatever. I am not doubting that she’s been on the receiving end of prejudice because of her looks, and that sucks, but it is not a get out of jail free card. Her writing is bad and people said so.

  8. SnarcasmQueen says:

    Oh honey, you know that’s not what the backlash was about. Good grief.

    • The Hench says:

      Exactly. Whilst possibly some of the criticism came from tall poppy syndrome, the vast majority of it was nothing to do with her success so this is a total dodge of any responsibility. She has always struck me as particularly pleased with herself.

    • AmyB says:

      @SnarcasmQueen I know her ridiculous portrayal of Christian/Ana’s relationship as a Dom/submissive dynamic was fucking irresponsible. To people who know nothing of BDSM, and think that is what it looks like – YIKES!!! I am into BSDM, so I can speak to this with my own experience; that was what the backlash was about within the BDSM community! One word EL James: CONSENT!!! Two people engaging in anything kink/BDSM related is founded upon consent for BOTH parties, and not one partner trying to manipulate or coerce the other into doing what they want!!!! The whole stupid plot of the first novel/movie was Christian trying to strong arm Ana into being his submissive, as he wanted. She didn’t want that, but wanted him. Ugh, just gross. And yes, portraying him as some tortured, abused person as THE reason for his desire towards sadism/dominance was irresponsible as well! Not all people in BDSM are motivated for those reasons. Hell, there are plenty of damaged, abused people engaging in vanilla relationships who are motivated by their past. AGAIN, James just being completely irresponsible in her portrayal of this community.
      That was the reason for the backlash!
      Oh and shit poor writing LMAO!

      • Jaded says:

        You deserve a standing ovation for this AmyB!! 👏👏👏👏👏👏

      • SnarcasmQueen says:

        That relationship is bad in every single context. Take away the BDSM and you still have an emotionally manipulative, consent violating, borderline narcissistic take with a huge power disparity.

        Billionaire romances have always existed and always will because a monied hot shot sweeping a normie off her feet and thrusting her into a life of wealth and privilege is an attractive premise but my god did the alpha asshole quotient shoot up in the aftermath of this series.

        To be honest, much of it reads like a poorly written prequel to Enough, that DV movie with J.Lo.

        Better than Stephanie Meyers is not a bar to be proud of clearing.

      • AmyB says:

        Yes, you are correct @SnarcasmQueen, the relationship portrayed was toxic on any level, BDSM or not. But the appeal of the whole thing was the kink element. And just hearing EL James describe it as a “healthy” exploration of BDSM/kink, makes me laugh my ass off. I realize it’s just a piece of literature, but it became a global phenomenon, and unfortunately, many many men came into the BDSM community thinking being a Dominant meant simply bossing a woman around, manipulating her, engaging in rough sex, even if she didn’t really want it. It was a dangerous message and too many people just didn’t realize it. Being in the community, and seeing that aftermath effect of 50 Shades, it’s impossible to ignore. It’s a shame that something that became so mainstream didn’t portray it in a more authentic manner.
        But becoming educated and learning for yourself about this lifestyle is paramount, there is no denying that!

    • The Recluse says:

      When these books were first coming out someone wrote a really excellent essay about everything that was wrong with them in terms of BDSM and the messed up relationship between the main characters, with an aside about how bad of a writer she was.

  9. girl_ninja says:

    Because Stephanie Meyers portrayed the Quileute tribe as predators in her books and alleged resisted casting people of color. Catherine Hardwicke claims that she wanted to make Alice Japanese and wanted the Cullen’s to be more diverse but Meyers wouldn’t have it. So she’s straight trash.

    Knowing that Meyers hates that her books birthed 50 Shades pleases me so. I never even tried reading the Shades books or Twilight books. However I love the first film that Hardwicke directed, she should have directed all of those movies tbh.

    • Becks1 says:

      the movie is so much worse than the books, LOL.

      • girl_ninja says:

        Probably. But what I am saying is that the first film that Hardwicke directed is really enjoyable to me.

      • Becks1 says:

        Sure, but what I’m saying is you might enjoy the books then (at least the first book.)

        the books weren’t great, but they were fast reads and they definitely hooked me in and kept me up all night reading them, so I guess they were good enough, lol. The first book was the best one IIRC.

      • Nic919 says:

        The first twilight was ok for what it was and it was good enough that I read the rest of the books. But there was a drop in quality from the first and by the last book I was just annoyed. The stupid buildup to the big fight that never happened was probably the worst thing she did after the weird messages about imprinting on babies and violence related to the honeymoon.

    • Laura says:

      When did she portray the Quileute tribe as predators? In the 3rd book Edward saw them that way, but in the 2nd and throughout the 3rd they only ever protected Bella. I’m not some weird Stephanie Meyer defender btw, I just don’t remember that happening.

      • Songs (Or It Didn't Happen) says:

        Mayhaps the whole imprinting thing. Forcing women to be in abusive relationships and all.

      • Deering24 says:

        Yeesh. Why am I not surprised that a author raised as a traditional Mormon would be racist?

      • JesMa says:

        So this article is just assumptions by the scorned first director about Meyer’s motivations and then a bunch of Twitter opinions. Apparently the Cullen Family was based on family and friends and she pictured them a certain way. I’m sure that being a Mormon from Utah, her family and friends were mostly white growing up. If I wrote a book, I’m sure I would make the main family LatinX like me.

        The students at Forks were more diverse in the movies than what I pictured from the books. When the Cullens gathered their friends to help them, they were pretty diverse. I also didn’t find the wolf pack to be predators or abusive. The imprinting was involuntary and seemed to follow the 18+ for romance rules she established for vampires and aliens in her books.

    • Mia1066 says:

      Meyer’s books were such garbage I couldn’t get past one chapter, then tried audio and it was even worse. 50 shades was never going to get a look in – fanfic of dreadful writing. Nope. But I don’t begrudge anyone making bank from crap writing.

    • BlueToile says:

      Thank you for the link GIRL_NINJA. I can tell you that I was a close friend of one of Meyers first cousins of the same age for about 30 years. The entire family is Mormon, as I am. (Or maybe was, I can’t decide.) I dropped the friendship when I learned that this friend and her husband were Trump voters. My husband and children are Latino, so, yeah. This friend somehow did not understand where I was coming from at all. Therefore, I would extrapolate that Meyers is likely the same, with unacknowledged racism. The Mormon culture is rife with racism. I had thought we were getting past that, but clearly I was stupid. I no longer participate in any way with the Mormon church and swear I never will again. Anyway, the church is everything to Meyers extended family. Take this for what its worth. Not surprised to hear about Meyers being a racist jerk. Sorry to thread-jack.

  10. Izzy says:

    The writing was so bad I couldn’t get past the first three pages and she basically is famous because she wrote Twilight fanfiction crap. Good for her for making her money, I guess, but it’s not like she’s a literary genius.

    • betsyh says:

      I can’t understand how books so cornily written could sell so much. And I cringed whenever the heroine’s inner goddess was mentioned. “My inner goddess has stopped dancing and is staring, too, openmouthed and drooling slightly.” Ugh. But timing is a big part of success, and she struck at the right time. And James laughed all the way to the bank.

      • INIA says:


        A good PR strategy is the answer.
        It’s possible to take any shit product and turn it into gold, if you know how to sell it properly.
        Like VOSS water. It’s just water, yet people pay double for the brand. Why? Good branding and PR.

      • betsyh says:

        Good point Inia.

  11. Siggy says:

    E.L. Stole her story from other fan fiction writers.

  12. Willow says:

    I think I read 2 paragraphs, bad writing. She started this on a free erotic fanfiction website for the Twilight books. Which is fine, because no one makes money. So, 50 shades is entirely based off characters created by someone else. From what I read, her husband is big in the movie/TV business in Australia, and the books got published because of his money and influence. That’s also why she had so much control when the movie was made, which is unusual for 1st time authors. All those things combined, plus her arrogant attitude, it’s obvious why she gets such bad press. If she’s writes something else, that’s entirely her own idea, gets it published and it has success, then she can earn some respect.

  13. Plums says:

    I applaud her for never shying away from the fact that her story started as Twilight fic. She owns it, and her fandom, which is more than can be said for a lot of other published authors who feel that fic is beneath them and try to erase and deny all fanfic history after they make it big (hi, Cassandra Clare!).

    I’m not opposed to fanfic authors filing off the serial numbers to create original work if it sells and turns them into successful millionaires. But I do wish 50 Shades didn’t fail so much in a genuinely harmful way with it’s incorrect, toxic depiction of BDSM. I mean, romance novels are full of problematic stuff, but she did real damage trying to pass off a bdsm flavored rape fantasy as what a genuine bdsm relationship looks like.

  14. Lisbeth says:

    AND a bad writer. She forgot to add that.

    • lucy2 says:

      Yeah I agree there was probably some tall poppy stuff, older woman stuff, mixed in there, but there was also a lot of legit criticism because she’s a terrible writer.

  15. Jess says:

    I loved erotic way before these books (Anne Rice got me started) and I heard these books were poorly written so I never read them, but I love that she made erotica more mainstream. And I know a lot of married people who had better sex lives as a result of her books, which is great.

  16. ChezBuddy says:

    @GIRL_NINJA, if you didn’t read the Twilight books, how can you criticize them? I did read them years ago and while I wouldn’t say the writing was amazing, I would say they were a fun read. I don’t recall the Quileute tribe being portrayed as predators and would challenge that. If anything, Meyers appropriated their history and mythology and portrayed them negatively as hypermasculine and emotionally out of control in comparison to the Cullen family but not as predators. Anyway, sorry, I have a pet peeve about when people criticize things they haven’t actually read.

  17. Vivica says:

    Fun fact: Twilight fan fiction is my guilty pleasure. Some of the writers are really amazing and have been able to take the worst love story of all time and make it 100% better. That being said, I have to admit that reading 50 shades got me and my husband to try a few new things. I was able to share some excerpts and we became a bit more comfortable expressing some of our own kinks and willingness to try a few new things. We had fun sex, but this was something a bit different. Then there is the fact that after years of trying to get pregnant, we finally did. Our daughter’s middle name is Grey. 🙂 Twilight is still a terrible love story and 50 shades did spawn off of that, but I’m okay with it all.

  18. souperkay says:

    I dislike the term “overweight” because it implies that there is a perfect weight. There are many reasons a person’s weight on a scale has nothing to do with their health so the implication of “overweight” is hurtful and negative. I know she chose that word, but I wish she could be free of the tyranny of it.

    Saying fat is fine. Fat is not negative like overweight.

    Body fat is not negative.

  19. Princess says:

    All romance novels are terrible. And no one ever said it was quality writing. It was fantasy drivel and that is why it sold.

    I never wanted to see the movies but turned one on while I was home sick years ago. Actually was kind of hot. Not the BDSM element, but the chemistry between Dakota and Jamie Dornan was strong and reminded me of how it was with couple of my old boyfriends in particular …

    • bonobochick says:

      Nope. All romance novels are not bad.

      Stop with this needless overgeneralization of a popular genre for whatever reason.

      • girl_ninja says:

        Exactly this. All romance novels are not terrible. There are many, many, many fantastic authors from the past and currently.

        I’ll say that I include rom com in with romance novels.

      • SnarcasmQueen says:

        Thank you!

        Just like every other genre, some books are well written, some are written well enough, and some are terribly written.

        There are a whole slew of very lovely written, grammatically accurate, well researched romance novels that transport you to another place just as easily as fantasy, sci-fi, non-genre fiction, etc.

      • Becks1 says:

        I love a good romance novel. I even love super formulaic ones (Nora Roberts, I’m looking at you.) It’s okay to be a fantasy story or an overly cheesy happy ever after (not all romance novels are cheesy though.) And some ARE really well written and very good.

        50 Shades…..is not.

    • Jaded says:

      Have you ever read Jane Austen? With a comment like yours I imagine you haven’t. Let me enlighten you — they are among some of the best-written romance stories of all time. I highly recommend them.

      • Pabena6 says:

        And Georgette Heyer. She and Jane are the only two romance authors I read, myself.

      • SnarcasmQueen says:

        Georgette Heyer was antisemitic and her works are chocabock full of antisemitic tropes. I wouldn’t tell anyone what to read but I would tell them not to recommend problematic books and authors to others.

      • SomeChick says:

        Sonia Simone is a fantastic writer who has written romance novels. I’m sure there are many many more who are head and shoulders above the vile and damaging 50 shades.

        being successful with a derivative, poorly written fanfic (that is filled with harmful ideas) and then not producing anything else in 10 years doesn’t scream “author!” it screams “hack!”

  20. Bonsai Mountain says:

    Romantic fiction is an actual genre and there are excellent writers out there who hone their craft. EL James is not one of them. I have friends who are aspiring writers, and it is particularly enraging that they are told that they are not up to scratch but keep trying, one day they’ll meet that standard and their manuscripts will be published. But they’re people of colour, not white, so they don’t get the benefit of doubt that this woman and her horrible schlocky writing did. Just another example of double standards – another day, another industry!

    • Deering24 says:

      Ugh. Don’t even get me started on the “your work will never be good/commercial enough no matter how hard you work because you aren’t white” industry crap. No writer starts out perfect, but too often POC writers are expected to be Stephen King right out the gate—and get no margin for error.

  21. Luna17 says:

    I tried to read it but couldn’t get past the bad writing and just not my thing. I think people need to understand it’s entertainment, she didn’t write a guide for a healthy BDSM relationship or claim to be an expert. Most books in the romantic erotica genre aren’t exactly the healthiest portrayal of relationships. I don’t think it’s fair to blame her for issues in the kink world. Porn hub probably does way more damage in that area and has a larger audience but sure, let’s blame the woman for consent issues and misunderstandings of bdsm from other people she has never met. Sometimes a book is just a book and doesn’t have to be a perfect example of everything. If people can’t get that then they need to educated themselves, not this author’s responsibility.

    • Fabiola says:

      I agree. I don’t think this book should be blamed for worldwide abuse problems. They existed before this book came out and will keep existing. I also doubt there were a bunch of males reading this book and then thought to start beating up a woman since most of the readers of this book are woman and woman who are not into this kind of lifestyle. They are just reading for entertainment. I saw the first movie and have no interest in that lifestyle.

  22. Eggbert says:

    The writing was bad but it wasn’t meant to be a literary masterpiece

    • Deering24 says:

      But when the writing is so bad you keep getting knocked out of story, then that is a problem. Nobody is saying every book has to be a masterpiece. But they do have to be at least good at telling a tale.

  23. AnneL says:

    I’m not interested in that kink and had no interest in reading the book. One of my sisters-in-law told me she was loving the books so I read a couple of pages. The writing is just so bad, I couldn’t get past it. I enjoy the occasional romance novel and don’t mind if they’re a little smutty, but they have to be reasonably well-written.

    I also read a collection of excerpts from the book by a humorist who trashed the writing. It was hilarious. I mean, she wrote things like “Anastasia mused matter-of-factly.” That’s not a thing. Bad writing is bad writing.

    But, she made a lot of money, so good for her I guess.

  24. Digital Unicorn says:

    As others have said it was the extremely bad writing that caused the backlash, plus didn’t the success go to her head, esp when they made the movies. If I remember the director of the first one alluded to her interfering and it was a reason why she didn’t return for the others. Didn’t her husband write the screenplays for the other 2?

  25. B L Buckley says:

    If a man had written 50 Shades, I’d have MORE contempt, not less. And until this very article, I had no idea what she looked like, let alone her body type.

    Sometimes it really is about the work.

  26. Elaine Bateman says:

    I liked the books, more for the plot than for the sex. I know it started out as Twilight fan fiction but beyond ‘socially awkward woman meets powerful, emotionally distanced man’ I can’t really see any Twilight in it. I like the movies, I consider them to be rewatchable, and have done. I like E.L. James as a person, she’s kind, funny, and down-to-earth.
    As far as the portrayal of BDSM goes, I can’t fault the storyline for falling outside the norms of that lifestyle. Plots are driven by things going wrong. Steele doesn’t understand Grey’s world and he’s got serious mummy issues. And not everyone approaches BDSM from a good place. The story of two people can’t represent a whole community. On the bright side, people can chat openly about kinkyf*ckery at dinner parties these days, and couples are much more open with each other about their needs and desires.

  27. Janelle says:

    I still cringe at my “fifty shades” era self. My poor bewildered husband.

  28. Valerie says:

    Her writing legitimately sucks, though. I have no problem with erotica as a genre, but I think you have to be a skilled writer in order to write it effectively. You have to be well-versed in the arts of subtlety and suggestion, and know when to show and when to tell. James’ writing seems to leave nothing to the imagination, and her descriptions do nothing to improve upon the readers’ experience.

    That’s my official literary critique, lol.

  29. SenseOfTheAbsurd says:

    Book full of unambiguous rape and abuse, and they tried to gaslight us by marketing it as romance. NOPE. She’s never been held accountable for the damage it’s done.