Fifty Shades of Grey took the world by storm when it was first released in 2012. What began life as Twilight fan-fiction morphed into phenomenally successful book and film trilogy, as beloved for its silliness and steaminess, as it was reviled for what many deemed its sub-par prose. However, no matter what side you are on, the fact remains that author E.L. James is at it again.
James has confirmed that her new novel The Mister is on the way this spring. It tells the story of Maxim, a privileged British man who inherits a large fortune and falls in love with a mysterious woman named Alessia.
The title was revealed in an exclusive interview with Today, which included a steamy excerpt from the novel. James described the story as “a Cinderella story for the 21st century”.
“Maxim and Alessia have led me on a fascinating journey and I hope that my readers will be swept away by their thrilling and sensual tale, just as I was while writing, and that, like me, they fall in love with them.”
The book is scheduled to be released on April 16th. It is available for pre-order on Amazon now.
When I think of Guinness World Records, my mind automatically goes to the bizarre titles such as the the world’s longest fingernails, the most hotdogs eaten at a county fair, and so on. Thinking of Christie fitting into one these categories was surprising, but it got me thinking of which other authors held Guinness World Records. I was not disappointed. Here are eight authors whose success helped them earn a Guinness World Record.
The Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie, is certainly one of the most fascinating authors in history. On top of holding the record as the first British woman to surf while standing up, the prolific writer also holds the title for penning the world’s thickest book. In 2009 HarperCollins published a collection of Christie’s Miss Marple stories—comprised of twelve novels and twenty short stories. The collection featured a staggering sixty-eight crimes committed, sixty-eight secrets, twenty-two false accusations, twenty-one romances, and 143 cups of tea consumed. One lifetime’s worth of entertainment added up to a whopping 4,032 pages, weighing more than fifteen pounds, and priced at $1,500 dollars.
British author Bertha Wood managed to fulfill her dream of writing a book in the later half of her life. Published on her 100th birthday in 2005, Wood published her first book (a memoir of her life), Fresh Air and Fun: The Story of a Blackpool Holiday Camp. Wood’s impressive feat acts as inspiration for people who haven’t quite gotten around to fulfilling their dreams. As she proves, you have plenty of time.
American author Dorothy Straight became a published author at the ripe age of four. Let that sink in. While most four year olds were daydreaming, watching TV, or playing outside, Straight wrote How the World Began, which was published two years later by Pantheon Books.
If your first guess was Agatha Christie, Stephen King, or one of the other popular authors whose names are well-known around literary circles, you’d be wrong. American author and founder of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard published 1,084 books between 1934 and 2006. In addition to writing books on scientology, Hubbard covered a range of genres including sci-fi, fantasy, travel, mystery, western, and romance.
J. K. Rowling’s hugely popular Harry Potter series took the world by wand, forging one of the most fervent fandoms in history. The series became more popular as it went on, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, managed to become the fastest-selling fiction title when it sold 8.3 million copies in the first 24-hours of its release.
Considering the enormous popularity of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (and the preceding books in the Harry Potter series), it probably won’t come as a surprise to find out that J. K. Rowling earned this title. Rowling has reportedly earned over $1 billion dollars for her novels and related earnings.
Miraculously, E. L. James shielded herself from the innumerable criticisms leveled at the Fifty Shades books with her massive paycheck. Between June 2012 and June 2013, James earned $95 million, surpassing James Patterson who earned $91 million for his work during those twelve months.
Indian author Vickrant Mahajan earned this record when, at a book signing for his book, Yes Thank You Universe, the author signed a record-breaking 6,904 books. Can you imagine how bad his hand must have cramped? Ouch.
Which award-winning title surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments below!
Money, yes. These movies made the studio bundles of cash, especially considering their relatively sparse budget (Fifty Shades Freed was reportedly made for $55 million, which is mid-budget). But that’s not the only reason Universal adapted the tentpole book series. It was tried and true.
Having essentially been market-tested before a second of pre-production was put into the first movie, the studio could rest assured that no matter what they came out with—which, most critics would assert, was no good—audiences would show up. Because even if the movie itself was a bore, enough people would want to see the sensual novel brought to life.
And when Fifty Shades of Grey first dropped, as with any book adaptation, you could hear the calls of internet-frequenters throughout the globe: Can’t Hollywood come up with any original ideas?
Considering, of this year’s Best Picture nominees in the Academy Awards, only one is a book adaptation (Call Me by Your Name), the answer is clearly a resounding yes. Movie makers are more than capable of creating and producing wildly successful original movies, and audiences will show up.
Yet critics of book adaptations persist. There’s nothing wrong with book adaptations. There’s no problem now, in 2018, and there never was. Let’s jump back 100 years, to the early days of the movie industry.
Back in 1918, movies were being pumped out like crazy. Many of the same studios today were around then. Their formulas haven’t changed. Some of the biggest smash hits of the silent era were based on literature: Jean Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughs, F. W. Murnau’s Faust, or Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera. Not to mention D. W. Griffith’s hideous 1915 classic The Birth of a Nation.
From The Man Who Laughs, based on the Victor Hugo novel. | Image Via Classic Monsters
Basically, the movie industry’s been aping literature since its dawn. It’s no surprise they’re doing so now. Regardless of a book’s built-in audience appeal, there are other reasons movie makers (not studios) gravitate toward literature as their inspiration.
Books inspire people. It’s not a controversial thought, especially on this site. They inspire you. Just like they inspire you, they might inspire a screenwriter or director or producer to take to their chosen art form and bring an abstract story to life. It goes beyond money. Put simply, books beg to be adapted. The marriage of book and film is as natural as milk and cookies.
Prose fiction is an abstract medium. Though a writer painstakingly chooses the proper words through which to deliver their story, those words can and will be interpreted differently by every reader. Though dictionaries do a good job of giving us all objective meanings, a good writer will not only create, but flourish in their metaphors and ambiguities. The best writers, at least in my opinion, are those like Italo Calvino or Jorge Luis Borges or Ursula K. Le Guin, who trust enough in their readers to give them the impossible to imagine.
Since film is probably the most immersive visual medium we have, it makes sense that the people who’ve internalized the abstract stories in prose fiction will be compelled to translate those stories into tangible reality.
There are legitimate gripes that readers have with film adaptations. Characters aren’t written quite right, or settings aren’t accurate to what the writer wrote. For the most part, though, these sorts of criticisms are unfairly expectant that one medium is capable of capturing and communicating a story in exactly the same way as the other. In other words, books and movies are made of different stuff. You can tell the same story in a book and in a movie, but some changes are going to be needed.
Book adaptations have been around since feature-length movies have been around. It’s not just because studios know they have an audience waiting to see the films—after all, book audiences are much smaller than movie audiences. Book adaptations are as popular as they are because we want to see stories come to life. Audiences and filmmakers alike are genuinely curious and anxious to see how snugly an adaptation fits the image they’ve constructed in their head. In the same way we get hungry or tired, fans of reading want to see the stories in their head exist in the real world. In a sense, book adaptations, even Fifty Shades Freed, are a dream come true.
With over 350 million copies sold, The Fifty Shades trilogy, and it’s counterpart Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey, have become one of the best-selling series ever published. The series catapulted the career of author E.L. James and has become an icon for its open depictions of sex and BDSM.
The series has been panned by critics since the first installment was published. The Telegraphwrote, “Fifty Shades of Grey makes Twilight look like War and Peace.”
The Huffington Postwrote, “From its glaring similarities to Twilight (Fifty Shades of Grey is an unauthorized re-imagining of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling series), the depictions of unrealistic BDSM practices and the often-cringeworthy prose, there’s a lot to critique.”
Personally, the series wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the portrayals of BDSM that I felt uncomfortable with. It was, in my opinion, the poor writing.
I could try to describe the discomfort that results from reading the bizarre and repetitive language penned by E.L. James, but what could be more effective than discovering it firsthand?
Here are fifteen lines from Fifty Shades that just left me feeling awkward.
1. “He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what! And… a gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all… Jeez.”
2. “I eye Christian’s toothbrush. It would be like having him in my mouth. Hmm…”
3. “An image of her shackled to my bench, peeled gingerroot inserted in her ass so she can’t clench her buttocks, comes to mind.”