It had to happen: a parody of the bestselling 50 Shades of Grey. And who better to pull it off than author Andrew Shaffer (Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love), whose witty Twitter alter egos, @EvilWylie and @EmperorFranzen, are followed by hundreds of book reviewers, journalists, and book bloggers.
“When I read 50 Shades of Grey,” recalls Shaffer, “it seemed almost like a parody of romances from the 1970s. It was funny on its own, but I thought I could push the lever on a few things and take it even further.” Shaffer admits he’d failed at writing a romance of his own—“I couldn’t stop myself from going to the ridiculous”—so giving parody a try seemed an intriguing option. He set to writing and two days later passed the idea by his agent, Brandi Bowles at Foundry Literary. “How soon can you finish it?” asked Bowles. “A week,” replied Shaffer, who immediately regretted his answer.
He hunkered down in his home in Lexington, Ky., and, supported by a case of Red Bull, actually met the deadline by working from 9 a.m. until midnight. “I was writing in a way I’d never written before. I felt at liberty to let my mind go absolutely anywhere. I’ve always liked dinosaurs, I thought. Can there be dinosaurs in the book?” Da Capo Press executive editor Renee Sedliar heard Shaffer was at work on a parody and “immediately (and shamelessly, it should be said) contacted his agent for the manuscript, recognized its genius, and made an offer shortly thereafter. The advance is not being paid in tea bags.”
This July 50 Shames of Earl Grey, penned by “Fanny Merkin,” hits bookstores. And readers will meet the young, rich, and handsome tycoon Earl Grey and Anna, the naïve college student he brings into his twisted world of mostly naughty dialogue and light spanking. Anna is enthralled—Earl Grey has a habit of buying every company she’s ever worked for (including Walmart) in an attempt to get close to her. But he’s also a moody bastard whose 50 shames constantly threaten to overwhelm her. Can Earl Grey and Anna ever have a normal life together? Or will his dark desires and constant smirking drive her over the edge?
You may find the answer in the chapbooks Andrew Shaffer will be signing in the Perseus Books Group booth (3604) today, 4–5 p.m. And Da Capo will also be giving away Earl Grey tea bags.