Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Fifty shades of Lace

A couple of weekends ago I went to the RNA conference in Penrith. It was fabulous from the filled goody bag when I arrived to the final talk by Kate Walker on emotion. There were far too many good moments to choose from; meeting two out of my three CPs in real life (and we had just as much to say in person as we do on line); watching fellow Yorkie Donna Hay, aka Donna Douglas, discover her inner self publicist (her first book as Donna Douglas The Nightingale Girls comes out 18th August and I can't wait to read it); or fan-girling over the uber glamorous  M&B contingent, especially twitter pals Fiona Harper and India Grey who were just lovely.

As for the talks - inspiring, thought provoking, tear-inducing (thanks Julie Cohen) and a real treat for an ex bookseller who loves a bit of industry talk, especially the frank and open Mira presentation. But if there was one theme that dominated the whole conference it was the sudden and surprising success of That Book. Less than half of us admitted to having started it, and fewer to having finished it but the truth is we would all kill for sales even half as good as hers.
A quarter as good.

But behind the envy and the admiration and the disdain and surprise and interest there was real puzzlement. Why this book? Why now? After all, it's not that well written (so we have heard) or original (fan fiction origin) or even that dirty. Apparently. (Okay, I haven't read it but I am addicted to this blog). And let's be honest. The romance writing sorority have been writing on this theme for years. 
You want to read about hot billionaires brought to their knees (ahem) by sassy virgins? M&B Modern line has them in droves. Sarah Morgan's RITA winning Doukakis's Apprentice is a witty, fun twist on the genre. And it's pretty steamy too. In fact read anything by Sarah Morgan, India Grey or Caitlin Crews. They can supply you with more alpha billionaires, lip biting heroines and knee trembling moments than tears at a gymnastic final. With emotion, wit and some pretty brilliant writing too. 

One of the worst parts of That Book's success has been the horrid, horrid term 'Mommy Por'n. There are so many things that offend me about the term that I won't even begin to go there; seriously. Patronising much? But apart from the patronising, sexist smugness of the term is the amusing implication that this is new. 

'Which one of you three
bitches is my mother?'
When I was a teenager the 80s bonkbuster ruled supreme. Jilly Cooper's jodhpurs clad playboys, Judith Krantz's high society heiresses, Jackie Collins's Hollywood bad boys and girl. All getting up to hot and steamy action that would blow Christian Grey's mind. Judy Blume's Forever was passed round my class, followed by the first three Jean M Auels, read less for their painfully researched look at Ice Age humanity than for the frequent and explicit love scenes. I was not allowed to stay up and watch Lace - but I sneaked a copy out of the library instead. It's being re-released and this fascinating interview with Shirley Conran made me want to read it all over again. 

Truth was though for me and most of classmates the sex scenes were fun - and informative. But a good book was better. I would far, far rather have read a good sweet romance than a badly written erotic one.  There's hardly a kiss in Heyer and I reread her many, many times. So despite the curiosity I won't be downloading Fifty Shades. I may have to take a copy of Lace on holiday to read by the pool though! 

1 comment:

Christina S said...

I was wondering what thoughts were among M&B writers about "that" book. can understand the puzzlement!! Not that I've read it, but I watched an interesting TV show about it the other night!

Glad to hear you had a good time at the RNA conference! x Christina.