James is worth nearly 60 million pounds. She’s sold more than 125 million copies of her book worldwide, one of them to me. Writing fiction for money? I don’t know about that, but she certainly has made money out of writing fiction.
I didn’t have the stomach to finish her book, because the language quickly got in the way of the images in my head, which, I have to admit, were none too pleasant in the first place. I’m nobody’s prude, but I like my erotica well-written.
Erika Leonard James got taken out on Twitter recently, according to this article on Guardian:
But alongside the serious queries came a deluge of questions that made fun of James’s much-criticised prose style, including jibes such as “Do you get paid per adjective?”, “Have you ever held a dictionary?” and “Did you ever consider using a thesaurus, or did that sound too much like hard work?”
As well as her writing style hashtag users also referenced the similarities between her work and that of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer with questions such as: “What’s the minimum distance you have to stay away from Stephenie Meyer at all times?” and “Did you see the abusive relationship of Bella and Edward and think ‘hmm needs more abuse’.”
While others were more creative in their criticism, with queries such as: “How many roads must a man walk down before he devotes an entire room in his apartment to the abuse of young women?”, “50 Shades takes place in 2011 but Anastasia, a journalism student, is mystified by the concept of BASIC EMAIL?”
A whole lot of readers, and let’s face it, a ton of writers, are not pleased with her. I read some of the tweets, and was sorely tempted to retweet them. I held back though.
Yes, her books are badly written. A simple edit could make them so much better. And while I can’t accuse her of inspiring abuse, as some have done, I do cringe at the dumbing down of English writing.
But people (presumably, mostly women) all the way from US and UK to Brazil and China are reading her– so there’s a gap she fills. I don’t think I, or anyone, has the right to look down on folks for their reading tastes– people will read what they want to read.
And if you give James credit for nothing else, she’s a good businesswoman. The empire of merchandise she’s building, based on her novels, is proof positive.
She is a real person, according to Daily Mail:
Her husband no longer writes out of the garden shed and she has graduated from a table in the sitting room: instead, both have their own studies. She moved her sons from their state school to a private sixth form and was the first person in the UK to buy a £60,000 red Tesla Model S electric sports car when it was launched last year. Pictures this week also showed her driving a blue ‘Chelsea tractor’ complete with a number plate ending ‘SXY’.
But, despite the Hermes and Tiffany bracelets she has bought herself, Leonard in many ways remains resolutely down to earth, slipping seamlessly between her new life in LA, where she can sometimes be seen sipping wine in the garden of the £1,500-a-night Chateau Marmont hotel, and her old life in West London. She continues to frequent her favourite pub in Ealing, where she goes to play Scrabble or take part in the weekly quiz night or simply for Sunday lunch with her family.
And while she has become a fan of regular manicures and pedicures, she still has her hair blow-dried in Acton, does her own supermarket shopping and walks her two Westies, Max and Mini. She even taught her youngest son to drive recently. Quietly, she has also made vast donations to charity — according to her company records, in the region of £1.2 million to date.
And it is this part, the part of E.L. James being a human like any of us, (despite her freakish success, her deplorable writing skills and Everything Else : I’m not posting excerpts because this is a PG 13 blog, and the internet is so awash that a simple google search would tell you more than I ever can)— this is the part that holds me back.
What has she done, after all, other than produce some bad fiction and make money out of it? Does being on the internet give people the right to bring anyone down? Yes, she’s a public figure, and as such, ‘fair game,’ but must we put her on trial for making money out of incompetently-written smut? She’s a wife, a mother, and isn’t robbing anyone, or misappropriating funds (unlike most corporates and politicians). I might change my mind, but this is what I think right now.
What about you? Do you think E. L. James deserves the flaying she gets? Have you read any of the Fifty Shades books? Do you have opinions on her writing, and its effect on the publishing world? Do you consider writing fiction for money alone? Have at it in the comments (keep it PG13).
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