Tuesday, May 29, 2012
There's Only One "Fifty Shades of Grey," One "Peyton Place," And One "Brokeback Mountain," Folks
First, this isn't about my personal feelings for FSoG...or any of the books mentioned in the title. It isn't even really about FSoG in a general sense. I've already posted that I liked the book...and I read it before it went mainstream. You can do a search if you don't trust me because I'm too lazy right now to link to those posts.
What I'm talking about in this post is oriented more toward facts about big books than my own personal feelings. I have seen more than a few articles and posts within the publishing community about FSoG. I've seen blog posts, I've seen calls for authors asking them to write books like FSoG, I've seen workshops for FSoG advertised on social media, and I've seen a slew of comments about how much FSoG is going to do for the erotic BDSM market. It's been a while since I've seen so many jump onto that proverbial bandwagon, all hoping they have the next FSoG.
What I haven't seen is a look back at other big books like FSoG. First, FSoG was tame by my standards, so it makes perfect sense to me that a book like this would crossover to the mainstream. The fact that they called it "Mommy Porn," speaks loudly enough. It's not what I would consider strong erotica, or any kind of porn. So the "Mommy Porn" angle is merely a tongue-in-cheek play on words not meant to be taken seriously. The one thing I could be wrong about is the level of erotic heat necessary to be considered porn...in the mainstream. Maybe my standards of erotica are too strong? As I've stated, I haven't read many BDSM books like FSoG, and the only reason I did read it was because I saw a review for it that sparked my interest weeks before it went mainstream.
After reading so many opinions about FSoG, I can't help thinking about books from the past that have jumped unexpectedly into the mainstream, with all the hype and promise that FSoG has had so far. If you go way back, way before my time, "Peyton Place," was one of those books. For its time period, PP had all the elements that FSoG has today. And yet as far as I know there was only one book like PP ever published with that kind of phenomenal success. I'm sure there were other books published like PP after it became so popular, but none ever reached the pinnacle of PP. Even the author of PP, Grace Metalious, never reached that level of success again.
A more recent example could be "Brokeback Mountain." When BM became a huge mainstream hit, everyone and his/her brother/sister started writing books/stories that would compete with it, hoping they would become just as big. Don't quote me on this, but I've heard that BM, through fanfic, led into the m/m romance genre. And BM didn't even have a happy ending, which is interesting in itself with respect to m/m romance. I wasn't paying much attention to BM at the time. I didn't even know there was such a thing as fanfic. I was writing gay fiction as I had been doing for years, while interviewing gay bloggers as a staff member for bestgayblogs.com, never even realizing that BM would inspire so many.
But since then there has been only one BM, even though millions have tried to duplicate its success with other original books...just like PP. The good thing is that indirectly BM did open up avenues for authors of m/m romance. I was thrilled to see it did that. It opened up avenues for all writers of gay fiction. I do think that FSoG will also open up doors for authors who write light BDSM books as well. But I'm not banking on another FSoG breaking into the mainstream any time soon, at least not with the same kind of success FSoG has seen. And when I see things that imply there will be more big books like FSoG, I hesitate to take them seriously.
If there is another big book like FSoG I'll be shocked. I could list other books that have become popular like FSoG, PP, and BM (Twilight?), but the main point is that some things just can't be duplicated no matter how hard we try. Sometimes there is no explanation no matter how deeply we analyze it. History does repeat itself. And there will be another big book that has the success of FSoG, just like there was PP and BM. Unfortunately, there's no way to predict what type of book that big book will be. Everyone seemed to think it might be zombies for a while. I haven't seen that happen yet.