Canada's 50 Shades of Grey


First aired on the Current (05/02/13)

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After millions of readers devoured E.L. James's trilogy depicting a BDSM relationship between a young woman and a troubled millionaire, a Canadian author -- under the pseudonym L. Marie Adeline -- decided to try her hand at writing erotica.

"I've been looking to sell out since I've started writing, if selling out means I actually make a living as a writer," she told CBC's the Current. "This is a good time to write erotica."

After her book, S.E.C.R.E.T., was snapped up by publishers in 30 countries before she had even written five chapters, many tried to guess the Canuck's identity. Ann-Marie MacDonald and Margaret Atwood were just two of the names thrown around, and the real author, a former CBC employee, hopes the women weren't offended.

Lisa Gabriele, who once worked for The Current and Dragons' Den, wrote two novels before penning S.E.C.R.E.T., which follows a 35-year old widow as she rediscovers her sexuality thanks to a secret society, whose members arrange nine sexual fantasies for her to play out.

This book is a huge departure from the subject matter of her other two novels. It's the first time Gabriele ever wrote an explicit sex scene. "I do write about love and women's internal lives. But, I actually went there," she said. "I wrote sexually explicit material for this book and I'd never done that before."

She chose to capitalize on the success of the erotica genre after 50 Shades of Grey blew up - in the U.K., James's book outsold the Harry Potter series. Though her book differs from 50 Shades of Grey in some important ways, argues Gabriele. As a self-identified feminist, Gabriele needed to write a book that empowered women, rather than focusing on a submissive relationship like the one between Anastasia and domineering Christian in James's three novels.

But she still saw erotica as a money-maker for writers. For once, Gabriele says she did not think about what she wanted to write, but rather, thought about what people wanted to read and then wrote it.

"I think all writers, to some degree, are entrepreneurs," she said. "I was just a very bad one for a really long time."

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