Why We Fell So Hard for Fifty Shades of Grey
I never planned on reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
As it happened, I was editor of a love and sex web magazine at the time it took the world by storm and my boss told me I had to read it and create content and articles related to Christian Grey because everyone was talking about him!
As a former editor at Playgirl magazine and an author of steamy books in the nineties, I kind of assumed I had been there, done that. But I would discover this was not the case. I pushed through the first few pages of book one, and then, it took me over. Oh yeah, it hooked me … and I could not put it down. Over six days I worked my way through the trilogy, taking long lunches and reading during every moment of free time. When it was over I had what I now can identify as an unbelievable “book hangover.”
I was literally in some sort of stupor, lost in the world of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. And I did not want to come out! Frankly, I didn’t.
My curiosity about what made this book so compelling, powerful, and arousing led me on a three year journey to dig deeper into why readers fell so hard for Fifty Shades of Grey and, especially, Mr. Christian Grey.
I tried to go right to the source, and requested an interview with author E.L. James when I met Ms. James and her publicist at a book signing in New York City in 2012, but the trilogy took off and the interview never happened. So, I researched it from different angles.
First, I reported on the phenomenon for a health site, gathering insights from experts, and started the Fifty Shades of Grey News page on Facebook to interact with fans. Next, while getting a psychology degree, I spent months researching and writing a final paper about the love story between Christian Grey and Ana Steele—and got an A! Then The Three Tomatoes gave me my “Hot Romance” column to pursue extensive coverage of Fifty Shades and the erotic romance revolution. From there came related assignments from various publications—such as interviewing a real “Master” for Cafemom and speaking to authors about Fifty for Romance at Random. Along the way, every time I interviewed an expert on an emotional or sexual health topic, I asked their thoughts on Fifty Shades and collected many brilliant comments to add to the mix. All the while I was tending to the Fifty Shades of Grey News fan page community of 200,000 fans, covering related news from around the world—a labor of love that continues.
Okay, so I guess you can tell … I’ve been a little obsessed. But also, extremely intrigued and I followed my passion to take part in this amazing phenomenon.
Finally, last June, just over three years from the start of this journey, I had a chance to pose a question to author E.L. James about why women so adore her Mr. Grey. Hearing it straight from the author’s mouth brought the whole project full circle.
At that point, I had completed so much research—and dozens of my articles were taken off line when several sites I wrote for went through redesigns—so I decided to put it all into a book: FALLING HARD FOR FIFTY: A Tribute to the Sexy Book that Stole Our Hearts, publishes from Goddess Communications on December 10. And right now it only costs 99 cents.
FALLING HARD FOR FIFTY explores sex hormones, brain science, and psychology through existing studies and insights from experts. It looks at attraction, desire, and falling in love through the experience of Christian and Ana—and traces the arousing, emotional roller coaster ride readers took right along with them. The book also includes comments from over a hundred Fifty Shades fans (edited down from hundreds).
I can tell you right now, many fans say it was not just the great sex and erotic anticipation. They love the love story between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. They adore the hot, hunky, classy, smart, sexually proficient self-made billionaire, Mr. Grey. But time and again I heard fans say they love the “more.”
Despite the controversy that has surrounded Fifty Shades, and through complaints about the representation of BDSM in the story, way over 100 million books have sold. E.L. James’ most recent book, Grey, went right to the bestseller list as well. And there is a reason for that folks, and it is not because readers were forced to submit to reading these books.
I am fan, clearly. But I have also done a ton of research. And I think at the end of the day, Ms. James was brilliant in writing a powerful story that engaged all our senses. She brought to life two memorable characters that shared a powerful, transformative love. She’s touched fans in a profound way. She also got people reading again, gave writers a new sense of hope and opportunity for their own work, and gave the publishing industry a much needed boost of excitement. She shook up the world and one of the great side effects is that women’s sexuality and desire, and the expression of that in sexy stories, has become part of the mainstream.
Of course, Ms. James has a wicked sense of humor. When my question about why we love Christian Grey was posed to her on a segment of “The Today Show,” she laughed out loud and gave a hilarious response. It’s all in the final pages of my book.
Just for the sake of clarity: FALLING HARD FOR FIFTY was inspired by own journey of curiosity and excitement and Ms. James has not endorsed the book. However, if she ever reads FALLING HARD FOR FIFTY she may laugh again that I spent so much of my time covering and investigating the phenomenon she created! After all, she may say, it’s only fiction.
For me, it was a fascinating journey and it changed my life too, so I am glad I read that first sexy book in the trilogy and kept on going. Thanks, E.L. James!
And special thanks to my friends and readers at The Three Tomatoes. This is where so much of my coverage began.
Order FALLING HARD FOR FIFTY.