Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
By Emily Alequin, Class of 2014
— Tall, muscular and handsome with the face of a greek god and all the financial, worldly influence of a much younger, and definitely hotter, Rupert Murdoch. This has become the general description of the preferred heart throbs of women. Whether he has those irresistible ocean blue eyes, a bank account that could probably buy and sell an entire country, or that awfully tempting sense of mystery and danger about him, “Mr.Perfect” is what all women wish to get their hands on these days. But this type of man is no longer being sought after just in the real word; he’s also being searched for and desired within the world of erotic literature.
Many already know of the immensely popular and successful “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy; the books that caught the attention of women over just a few short months. The 50 shades phenomenon has spawned an official soundtrack, a future movie release, and now even more erotic literature and an increasing trend that has not been widely seen since the 18th century!
One author, Sylvia Day, is among the list of novelists whose most recent works has earned her a spot near the top of the best seller lists. Set to be released in early October, Day’s newest book, “Reflected In You”, is the second in her popular “Crossfire” series and it continues the story of two lovers, Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross. Eva, a recent graduate student working as an executive’s assistant in an advertising agency has fallen for the mysterious Gideon; the wealthy and renowned owner of his own company, several businesses and even multiple properties around the city, that include Eva’s own apartment and the very office building they both work in. Their relationship began in the first novel “Bared to You” and after weeks of secret meetings, late night trysts , and let’s not forget drama, Eva and Gideon are willing to make greater attempts at making this risky yet tempting relationship work.
In “Reflected In You”, Day has chosen to continue the story of the two protagonists with broken pasts and unclear futures. Not much further description is given which gives the book a continued sense of mystery for the readers and bound to grab the attention of fans of both Day’s work and the “Crossfire” series. But with Day’s growing popularity, there has also been controversy and some speculation over whether Day’s newest series is of her own imagination, or is it simply riding on the coattails of the infamous ’50 shades’?
“Some authors aren’t original and try to copy fellow writers,” said Yarleen Hernandez, a communications student at Saint Peter’s University and a die-hard fan of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy.
“I definitely believe that the writers who are imitating “50 shades of Grey” will become popular because of this new trend of erotica books but definitely not as popular as E L James. I don’t blame them for trying to “cash in” on 50 shades since it is a trilogy that is getting a lot of hype right now.”
Day has been a romance novelist since 2005 and has written over 20 titles, yet there are still readers who believe the “Crossfire” is just too similar to the “Fifty Shades” trilogy. The first novel, “Bared To You”, was released in late June of this past summer, just 1 year after the mass release of E.L James’ popular trilogy and during its heightened popularity. Add that to a seemingly similar story structure and characters and readers become suspicious about whether or not these are just coincidences.
But are these simple comparisons enough to spark suspicions in the fans of “Fifty Shades of Grey?” Let’s face it, “Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t the first erotic novel ever published and neither was “Bared To You”, so why the dispute?
Yarleen mentioned that it may be due to relations drawn about things such as the developments and plot turns in the relationships and she also pointed out the similarity between the male protagonists’ initials. Christian Grey and Gideon Cross both have the initials, C G, when switched accordingly, and while Fifty Shades centers around submissive and dominant relationships, Day’s characters also dabbles in the same in the final chapters of her book. Even the book’s cover design seems to follow the theme of showcasing the images associated with the stereotype of a wealthy business man. ‘Fifty Shades’ reveals a formal tie while ‘Bared to You’ presents a cover with two beautifully designed cufflinks. However, this argument could be made about any romance novel’s cover since many follow similar layouts and designs when it comes to presenting their stories.
So, is this imitation? Or a trend? Or will fans of erotic not care?
“I definitely believe that with erotica trending right now, new fans will pick up Silvia Day’s new book as well as fans from the 50 shades trilogy. They will be intrigued to see if it measures to 50 shades and her (Day’s) first book,” said Yarleen.
“I believe that “Reflected in You” will most likely garner a good amount of sales, definitely not as much as the 50 shades trilogy but close, that’s my prediction.”
Something else about Sylvia Day’s “Crossfire” series that attracts readers’ attention is the design of the front and back covers with sentences that boldly state it’s the perfect book for any lover of erotic fiction or of the 50 Shades trilogy.
“I think that it is a smart marketing strategy. I am a big fan of the love story behind 50 shades and although many people like to bash the book for its “pornography” it is important to realize that it is an erotica not pornography. There is a difference. I am open to other books that are similar to the trilogy since they (50 shades) will eventually come to an end when I am done with them and it’s nice to know that I will have a similar book to read after. I guess you can say i’m the ideal target for their marketing strategy,” said Yarleen.
Professor Shaik, a Communications professor at Saint Peter’s University and teaches a class about book publishing, had a few opinions to share on the “Reflected In You” release and the recent change in the literary market.
“I think that there are always some authors who write in every genre and their works are ignored when there are no trend,” Said Shaik. “So, in some cases, authors are being “discovered” who have worked in the genre for a long time. As for romance authors who are moving toward erotica, some may pulled the erotic work from their romance books, or some may just be adding more erotic scenes to their work.”
As for authors such as Slyvia Day who are trying to make their own mark without being attached to E.L James’ success, Shaik believes that the publishing industry and markets are what are responsible for trying to help the author “stand out.”
“Think of the music industry, there are always singers who sound like a previous “star” and sell pretty well. Publishers are betting on the same strategy.” Said Shaik.
“I think all authors must make material their own or it dies on the page,” Shaik stated when asked if Sylvia’s Day “Crossfire” series will soon be able to truly make a name for itself that doesn’t involve being compared to “50 Shades”
“If she has a very loyal following, publishers are usually willing to take a chance that readers will join the new genre, especially if its going from romance to erotic romance. That’s not really that far of a jump. All genre books (including erotic) follow a specific outline. Literary novels are the ones which break through to new forms,” Said Shaik.
Bottom Line: This is definitely not the first romance novel written about this kind of relationship, and neither was Fifty Shades. But when one series such as “Fifty Shades” becomes that infamous in the literary world because of its characters, story line, and “TABOO” sexual relationship, any other books written after its release that have just one similarity are bound to be thrown under the bus, driven by all fans wanting to defend what they love. One can only hope that these fans choose to take a chance so they might enjoy other authors’ works such as Day’s that can show other sides of a universal story.
“Reflected In You” is set to release Tuesday, October 2nd.