Since I write erotica, the question “So your books are like Fifty Shades of Grey?”, is one I am often asked. On one hand, it’s delightful to hear; on the other hand it’s a bit disconcerting. It’s delightful because I love when new artists receive recognition. I cheer for the underdog who is discovered and whose talent has a chance to shine. So, to be compared to the current trend, especially one so widely popular, is quite nice.
On the other hand, when I hear words like, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, I feel the need to take a deep, calming breath. The genre of erotica has a long and wonderful history. Think DH Lawrence (Lady Chatterley’s Lover), Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer), Erica Jong (Fear of Flying), to name only a small few. Even the notion of informed consent has an entire background and rich culture. In literature, think John Cleland (Fanny Hill), Pauline Reage (The Story of O), and Anne Rice (Exit to Eden).
Fifty Shades of Grey has catapulted into fame, bringing a whole new set of readers to this exciting world, yet it doesn’t represent the majority of works and artistry in the field of erotica.
Have you ever been to a gathering, a party, a wedding, and talked to someone about your profession? Let’s say you’re involved with environmental law and tell them you’re a lawyer, they will most likely start talking about Boston Legal, Law & Order, LA Law (depending upon their age) or any of the other commercial portrayals of lawyers available to them. You would probably sit there and smile politely, when what you’d like to do is kick these great shows into another universe simply because they do not reflect the majority of lawyers out there.
That’s how it is with the new trend of Fifty Shades of Grey.
To be fair and clear, I must say I’m not commenting on the literature alone. I’m talking about people getting a peek at a lifestyle that is not true to life. It would be the same as looking at a mountain through a keyhole and deciding that view, that limited visual of the mountain, is all the mountain is about when in fact it’s so much more. It’s beautiful, grand and teeming with life.
My work is about a different kind of life. A different kind of consent. The way women, and sometimes men, in history were treated because someone believed they made a deal with the devil and were practicing witchcraft, is one of many atrocities carried out by mankind. The Immoral Virtue trilogy is about twisting history. About taking forced consent and claiming some power over it.
“The hopelessness of the time period was beautifully portrayed in this story”
It’s a tale I needed to tell as a way to empower those who were accused, whose choice was ripped away. What I have done doesn’t change a thing about history, but it makes for some interesting – and I hope thought-provoking – reading.
“Arla Dahl’s Immortal Virtue trilogy is a breathtaking tale of accusation and innocence, dominance and submission, fear and lust, set amid the charged atmosphere of seventeenth-century witch hysteria.”
And it’s nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey.