Have you ever had one of those weeks that seems to be theme-based? Apparently, my theme this week is “50 Shades of Grey”. Now before you all start thinking that I’m a very lucky, and also naughty, girl, let me assure you that it’s nothing quite so salacious. It’s just that the topic of either that particular novel/film or the subject of ‘adult’ fiction have both been coming up fairly regularly lately. It all started last week, when I was at the Page to Screen conference because I’d been invited to attend the cocktail reception by my publisher. He’s been my publisher for about 2 years now, but this was the first time I’d ever spoken to him, let alone met him—all our communication has been via email. Anyway, he invited me to go, because he was pitching my novel to producers in this kind of speed-dating style format, with the intention of getting someone interested in making it into a movie or whatnot. Over the last few weeks, Ken and I had engaged in some pretty thorough speculation about what he actually might look like. Ken was convinced that he was a tall, older, absent-minded professor type, and I thought he was probably middle-aged but distinguished. He has a VERY Anglo name, so imagine my surprise when I walked into the reception and was met by a rather diminutive man with a VERY strong Russian accent. Well, I don’t know if he’s actually Russian, but you know how the Russians get credit for almost everything these days, so whatevs. At any rate, I really enjoyed finally getting to talk to him, and he introduced me to a couple of the producers that he knew. We also had a conversation about my next novel:
Him: I read the synopsis. Is it science fiction?
Me: It’s more dystopian. You know, like post-apocalyptic Canada.
Him: Many people here are asking for science fiction. It’s popular.
Me: Yeah, it’s science fiction.
In my defence, there are definitely some science-y bits in it. But then he had to leave. I decided to stick around for a little while longer, because there was free wine, and that outweighed my discomfort with being in a crowd of people I don’t know. So I was standing there, minding my own business and drinking a nice Chardonnay, when I was approached by this trio of women. They wanted to know what I wrote, so I told them, “Young Adult fiction. My main character is 16.”
“Oh,” said one of them. “MY main character is 16 as well, but it’s not Young Adult. There’s LOTS of sex in it. I mean A LOT OF SEX. It’s very ADULT.” And it was kind of weird and creepy how she so cheerfully emphasized the amount of sex in her book, so I tossed back my Chard and excused myself. And now I’m worried about what kinds of films these producers are making.
Then earlier this week, we were out for a birthday lunch, and the topic of 50 Shades of Grey came up at the table. I’ve never read or seen any of it, but the consensus was that the books were poorly written and the movies weren’t much better. One of my colleagues said she had just seen it with a group of lady friends, and at that moment I looked down at my phone to read an email. When I looked back up, someone was saying, “And then they raised money and took all the kids at the school to see it.” And I was like “What?! That’s horrifying! What parent would allow their child to see THAT?!” Then everyone just stared at me because the conversation had moved on from 50 Shades of Grey to The Black Panther and I should probably pay attention to conversations if I want to contribute to them.
And yesterday, I was in the kitchen at work, and someone asked me what kind of novel I had written. When I told her, she said, “Do you ever write anything adult?” and I was like, “What, you mean, like porn? God, no.” She immediately clarified that she just meant books designed for an older audience, not “erotica”, but it occurred to me that there’s no real way to ask that question without sounding like you actually MEAN porn. IE: Do you write for a mature audience? Is your work meant for adults? Are your readers older? Because all I have to do in my head is put quotation marks around “adult”, “mature”, or “older” and it automatically sounds like it’s porn. But I could never write porn, not even that 50 Shades sh*t, because every single one of my female characters would giggle self-consciously and make jokes whenever anything remotely sexy happened. Face it—there are just some people who shouldn’t write porn. I’m going to now try writing something “adult”, just so you have proof:
Woman: I’m bored. Talk dirty to me.
Man: OK. Mrs. Smith, I’ve been looking at your lesson plans and you’ve been very naughty.
Woman: I have? Ooh. What have I done, Mr. Jones?
Man: Your rubrics don’t align with curriculum expectations. You will have to be punished. Please come to my office.
Woman: Your office? Tell me more.
Man (husky voice): I just had new carpeting installed. It’s builder’s grade, but it’s very nice all the same.
Woman: That’s definitely going to trigger my allergies.
Man (husky voice): Ohhh, your allergies eh? Maybe you need to have them spanked out of you.
Woman: *laughs hysterically*
That may or may not have been based on a real conversation between 2 people who have been married almost 30 years. The closest I’ve come to actual porn lately though was the movie Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence. She plays a Russian ballerina that trains to be a sex spy, which is to say, someone who uses sex to spy on people, NOT someone who spies on people having sex. Anyway, there was a LOT of graphic action in this movie, which we had gone to see with K and her girlfriend, the lovely V. When the movie was over, we were all just like, “Well, that was certainly a complicated plot….” and “Gosh, the Cold War was an interesting time in history….” So probably not the kind of movie you want to see WITH your teenager. And now, I just took a break and peeked at Facebook, where one of my friends has posted an article about a Canadian trapper who was attacked by a randy 200 pound beaver, so I’m just going to leave things there.