“Earl Grey is tall, dressed impeccably in a tailored gray suit, a black tie with smiley faces on it, tousled brown hair, and is staring me down with brilliant gray orbs. He’s the kind of guy you want to write fanfic about.”
That’s just a delicious teaser from Andrew Shaffer’s forthcoming “Fifty Shames of Earl Grey,” a playful response to the runaway success of erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
The deal was inked this past weekend, with Da Capo Press winning the auction, and Shaffer is working on polishing the manuscript, which he originally wrote in 10 days. “It was like writing Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’,” Shaffer says. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had writing something. The first three chapters follow what happens in ‘Fifty Shades,’ and then it goes off the rails.” He’s not kidding, divulging that the lovers get busy on a dinosaur. And why not?
The idea originated after Shaffer, who reviews romance novels and erotica and tweets publishing news @evilwylie, read E L James’ trilogy and was surprised by the books’ success. “The books have an old-school Harlequin feel, with a rich guy sweeping a virgin off her feet,” Shaffer says. “The hero buys her a $14,000 first edition of a book before their first date! But it also combines this old-school romance with a newer style that includes more graphic depictions of sex.”
More in books
“I started posting excerpts of my own version and planned to put them all up on line for free. Within one day, a publisher offered me money for it on Twitter,” Shaffer says. And while he won’t give up the particulars of the final book deal, Shaffer says that he might be able to buy a double-wide trailer with a moat, if not the McMansion he was gunning for.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” started out as “Twilight” alternate universe fan fiction, meaning that the characters were originally named Edward and Bella. Instead of a vampire, Edward was a dashing CEO and Bella was a college senior pure as the driven snow. “One of my characters is a fanfic writer so I could talk about the hoopla around ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ in a more interesting way,” Shaffer says. “I tried to write my book in a way that it’s not mean-spirited toward E L James, but more broadly poking fun at romantic conventions. E L James took vampires out of the story. I’m putting vampires back in. I even put a werepony in there.” Again, why not?
The paperback edition of “Fifty Shames of Earl Grey” will be out in June or July. Meanwhile, you can enjoy some early excerpts at Shaffer’s blog, evilreads.com.
Jennifer Worick is the author of more than 25 books (including Beyond the Family Tree: A 21st Century Guide to Exploring Your Roots and Creating Connections) and a publishing consultant; she can be found at The Business of Books.
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