Romantic Lurve – or 50 Shades of Beige

Miss PiggyRomance, in one form or another, is threaded through all our books at New Romantics Press. Lately, we’ve been discussing how one reader’s sublime is another’s ‘cor blimey!’

Apparently, there was no such thing as romantic love until after the 12th century. Until then, knights regarded biffing each other as pretty much its own reward. After that, they needed an explanation for all the biffing, (if they couldn’t think of one, they asked a minstrel to make something up) and sagas of battle moved to tales of courtly love.

Sublime? So, what about the ‘cor blimey!’

E.L. James’s erotic bestseller has sold 100 million copies, and still counting. It’s women who are flocking to see the film.

Vileda MopAllegedly, before the launch, B&Q sent a memo to staff, warning of a possible increase in demand for certain products. These would be from customers recreating their own Fifty Shades experience. What were  they expecting? People stringing themselves up in the shelving section and spanking one another with Vileda mops?

Have I seen the film? Noo. I always feel a teensy bit self-conscious watching that sort of thing – a voyeur looking through a keyhole. There’s a sort of agony of embarrassment and my hand keeps creeping up to cover my face – as if a week-old kipper is being wafted around.

I often skip the more palpitating passages when reading, too – especially when it starts to sounds a tad gynaecological.

“I don’t make love. I ****. Hard.”

(Ooh, heck. Move over Heathcliffe.)

Those words from the film sound less erotic to me than the Victoria Wood song about turning off Gardeners’ Question Time in the hope of being bent over the hostess trolley and beaten on the bottom with Woman’s Weekly.

I’m not quite of the same mind as the film reviewer, who said 50 Shades made her want to rush for her pinny and start polishing the silver.

I admire people who write about sex and erotica well. It takes skill to get it right. I just know that I’m not one of them.

I’ve taken heart from writer Joan Didion who suggests that concealing something, can heighten its impact. She says: “It’s like dressing. If you’re covered up, it’s sexier than if you’re not.” (Discuss?)

I heard a theatre director say recently that sex on stage is a notoriously tricky thing. A little, he said, goes a long way. It’s the suggestion of sexiness, apparently – not the act itself – that raises the temperature in an auditorium.

Raising the temperature! That’s it! That’s what I’m always struggling to achieve in my novels. But I appreciate that what floats my boat, may well scupper yours.

So, what about  you? What do you think? Comments in plain brown envelopes, please!

I’ll leave you with another quote from Victoria Wood: ‘Orgasm? I haven’t blown my nose since Wednesday!’

And to cool things down, here’s a picture of myself at 5, dress tucked into knickers. (I still wear a similar voluminous sort which may go some way to explaining my own views on this topic.)



Posted on April 20, 2015, in Love, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Great post!

    For me, it’s all about writers having enough respect for readers to offer them a choice by telling them what’s inside that book. If you say it’s for YA, then no sex. If it’s for mature YA/NA, then no sex without condoms. If it’s adult, then sex when it means something significant to the partners. If it’s erotica, then sex with graphic descriptions, copious profanity, and possibly multiple partners and/or props. But in every single case, it’s sex with mutually consenting partners. Otherwise it’s rape fantasy and that needs to be on the cover.

  2. Margaret Cullingford

    A well argued, thought-provoking and entertaining post, LIzzie, relevant to the whole spectrum of ‘romantic’ novels from erotica through stories of troubled relationships to chic-lit and sweet romance. As barbtraub says tell the reader what’s inside the book, then the reader can choose.

  3. Margaret Cullingford

    Hi June, just called you Lizzie!! Why – not LIzzie’s style? Apologies. For Lizzie, please read June.

  4. I Watched the film 50 shades, it was very toned down compared to the novel. Almost like a romantic comedy except the last 10 minutes. As with everything in writing, less is often more, unless you’re making a specific point. I think the reader should know what to expect and decide if that’s what she wants to read, and if it is, why not?

    • You’re right, Luccia. If it’s what the reader wants (and 100 million of them did want!) – why not?
      Your view that the film toned down the book is interesting. Apparently the writer and director had different opinions on how to interpret, and have now fallen out!

  5. GREAT post, June. I laughed a lot, and not just at the photo… Must admit that, while I have nothing against erotica, I’ve never considered the more blatant types of pornography a turn-on. Recently I copy-edited a collection of erotica, and to me only three of the stories were actually sexy — they were the three that had a rational context for the sex and concentrated on the build-up and anticipation. The others were graphic but, well, sort of pointless, and no more appealing than an anatomic chart or maybe a police report. Maybe that’s just me, but I think I agree with Joan Didion.

  6. Great post June. You have the gift of making whatever you post amusing, and humorous.
    Love this picture of you.

  7. Thank you, Cathy. I’m still the same shape!

  8. newromanticspress

    Reblogged this on Lizzie Lamb and commented:

    A very funny blog post from June Kearns. Lovin’ those big knickers, June.

  9. A very funny post June. Perhaps you secretly long to incorporate a vileda mop into your next novel. I must admit, I did read the first three chapter of FSOG but I kept laughing out loud so I never got any further. But, power to her elbow, I wouldn’t mind some of her success. Just don;t know if I could face the woman at the Co-op counter if she found out. LOL. I think I need to write a blog post entitled – Fifty Shades of Plaid – or why I find kilts sexy. Oo, e, Missus.

  10. I have to agree with the less is more. I feel that it is sexier to leave somethings to the imagination. I also, agree with BarbTaub’s comment. There should be a standard for different levels or something should be mentioned on the cover. This way you won’t be surprised when there is a graphic scene or even worse a graphic rape scene you weren’t expecting. I also think gratuitous sex doesn’t belong in books or movies. If it doesn’t move the plot along or add to the storyline in some way then it’s really not needed unless or course it is erotica then fine the more sex the better 

  1. Pingback: 50 Shades of Reader – What makes a great Bestseller? | New Romantics Press

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