Love it or leave it, the trend of books based on parody accounts, Tumblrs and social media profiles appears to be going nowhere. I'm pretty sure this particular trend started with the Web site Stuff White People Like (though bloggers were landing book deals long before that). Then there were several Chuck Norris meme-books, plus all the Jane Austen-meets-zombies incarnations. This year brought us Feminist Ryan Gosling, based on a Tumblr blog. I mean, they even made an entire TV show out of the Shit My Dad Says Twitter account.
This year's ripe-for-parodying tome was the S&M best-seller Fifty Shades of Gray. In addition to Fifty Shades of Louisa May, a mock erotic diary written by Louisa May Alcott, a book based on the parody Twitter account Fifty Sheds of Grey was released last week.
I am a person who normally prefers "literature" to parody books like this, but when Fifty Sheds landed on my desk, I figured I'd give it a go. I am also a person who likes double entendres. If you are unfamiliar with the Twitter account, the premise is that a gardener has found solace in his shedwork after his wife becomes obsessed with the E.L. James book nearly every woman's been reading with one hand.
Below, an interview with that man, C.T. Grey.
AA: Of all the things you could have parodied, what made you choose 50 Shades?
Grey: Ever since my wife bought that book, I've felt it was time to redress the balance and strike a blow for all the poor, shackled, tied-up and gagged men across the world. I just want to make a difference. And mow the lawn.
AA: Have you heard from E.L. James's camp?
Grey: Yes, Ms. James has asked me for a signed copy. She seems to find my tweets amusing, although I can't imagine why. Mine is just a simple story of a man thrust head-first into a world of pleasure and pain -- I wouldn't have thought that would be her kind of thing at all. Unless she's just attracted to the extremely tasteful book cover. Again, I can't imagine why...
AA: What is it like taking the non-traditional, 21st century path to becoming a published author via social media?
Grey: I think it's wonderful -- social media allows me to reach the whole world from the privacy of my humble shed. I've moved my computer in there and converted my workbench into a writing desk so my shed is no longer just a storage place for gardening/erotic torture equipment, it's my very own writing room. Now all I have to do is bang away in there to my heart's content. And then write about it.
AA: Are the puns hard to write or do you just blurt/type them out as they come to you?
Grey: I don't know what you mean, I just recount my experiences. If someone chooses to see double meanings in what I write, that's up to them -- it doesn't really bother me. If they're looking for a thrill, I don't mind giving them one.
AA: Who do you see as the audience for the book?
Grey: Well, I assumed only men would be interested in my book, but it turns out that women are quite partial to a little shed action, too, on the quiet. I think it probably speaks to a very broad section of society -- perverts.
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AA: Anything else you'd like to say?
Grey: Not really, except to say that I hope I've played my small part in empowering the red-blooded, green-fingered men of this world to finally feel able to read an erotic book about sheds in public without fear of humiliation or persecution. Oh, and it makes a nice gift, too, if you have a loved one you'd like to splash out on this Christmas.
On that note, the reason my copy is all waterlogged is because I had it with me when I got caught in the rain a few weeks ago. It is certainly NOT because I was reading it in the bathtub or anything.
Fifty Sheds of Grey by C.T. Grey is available from St. Martin's Griffin and on Amazon.com.