What Would You Like to #AskELJames?

EL James

This is partly a quick notice to say that there won’t be a new Grey recap today. I’ve fallen a little behind on them, and yesterday’s was an absolute mess of typos and glitches (thanks, WordPress). So I do want a little more time to give you something polished and coherent. I know it’s not like anyone’s waiting breathlessly for these, but since I’d normally have one up today I just wanted to give a heads-up.

And, though I didn’t participate in yesterday’s skewering of EL on Twitter, I did come up with a list of 5 questions I’d love to ask her (some in more than 140 characters):

1) Why does it seem like Christian’s abuse as a child is more important than Ana’s abuse as an adult, and why does it excuse Christian’s adult behavior?

2) What do you think of the fact that alleged serial rapists like Jian Ghomeshi have proudly compared themselves to Christian Grey with no hint of irony?

3) Why are all women in the 50 Shades and Grey franchise — apart from Ana — portrayed as weak, mentally ill, conniving, interfering, scheming, slutty, or incompetent?

4) In a book that’s meant to be all about celebrating and enjoying BDSM, why is BDSM treated like an outlet for unresolved childhood trauma wherein the lead character will ideally be cured of his kink at the end?

And finally:

5) Had you ever met an American, a college student, a CEO, or even just two humans having a conversation before you wrote this book?

What would YOU ask EL, dear readers?

And in case you’ve fallen behind on my thrilling series, you can catch up here!

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6 (Part 1)

Chapter 6 (Part 2)

Chapter 7

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3 thoughts on “What Would You Like to #AskELJames?

  1. Good questions! I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to ask her them.

    My answers, while wearing my best EL-James-channelling hat, would be:

    1. It’s not a matter of Christian’s abuse being “more important”, nor is it intended to “excuse” Christian’s behaviour. I’m writing a fictional story for entertainment purposes that should not be taken as an idealised allegory of how things should be. In an ideal world noone would *ever* be abused. Storytelling is built upon the un-ideal because that’s where the drama and conflict are to be found.

    Neither Ana nor Christian deserve to pay the price for the horrors he suffered as a child, and in ideal world they wouldn’t. In the real world, abused people far too frequently become abusers themselves and everyone is the victim. My story reflects this.

    2. I didn’t know that. But it wouldn’t surprise me. Sick people fixate on their own twisted misunderstandings of books all the time. Some people interpret Lord of the Rings as supporting Nazism, for example. I can only control what I write, not how people choose to read it.

    3. Homo fictus, the fictional character, is rarely ordinary. They are both simplified and larger-than-life compared to actual people (who, let’s face it, are far too complex, unpredictable and inconsistent to make credible fictional characters). Characters must fulfil their role in the story. They should generally have depth but unless they’re noticeably *something* they’re serving no point in the narrative.

    In this case, the narrative calls for Ana to be capable of meeting needs in Christian that noone else has – to be honest, questioning, forthright, caring and understanding. Narratively, if Christian is surrounded by women who could already fill this void, then Ana’s role becomes unnecessary, or at least weaker. The other women in the story need to appear lacking in comparison to Ana.

    Within the setting itself, Christian’s ivory bubble is largely self-maintained. As much as he needs someone “ordinary” like Ana to challenge him to face himself and his demons, he’s scared to acknowledge or pursue that. So he has subconsciously surrounded himself with the sort of people who won’t challenge his facade of control – weak, sycophantic individuals.

    Mental illness is fairly balanced across gender lines in the Fifty Shades series (and Leila’s was the result of having to deal with Christian’s). Similarly for conniving and villainy.

    4. Fifty Shades is not about celebrating and embracing BDSM. It’s the story of a young woman who falls in love with a damaged young man who uses BDSM as a shield against genuine intimacy. He shows her an exciting and overwhelming world of sexual exploration that she has never known and she shows him a world of normalcy, caring and intimacy that he has never known. For Christian, BDSM is a coping mechanism, not a healthy kink.

    5. I heavily researched US and corporate culture on Wikipedia in order to write these books. I’ve also watched at least half a dozen American movies and I learnt to write y’alls lingo with bodacious veracity.

    Thank you for your questions. It’s always nice to talk with a fan of Fifty Shades.

  2. You have covered a majority of any questions I would wish to ask more eloquently and succinctly than I most likely could have . Thank you . I just found your blog today and am enjoying it thank you for your obvious hard work you put into it !!👍

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