Aug 232012

From, about a new BDSM/supernatural novel called Devil’s Brand by Casea Major:

At first glance, it seems to merely be inspired by E.L. James‘ bestseller with its questionable BDSM and lip-biting heroine. In fact, this protagonist Marci Lowe sounds like she might have some more agency than Anastasia since she’s a bankrupt heiress, so at one point in her old life she was maybe successful?


Here’s where I might be starting to lose you, where you think, So what if there’s a brooding businessman with a taste for BDSM? That’s not my Christian Grey. Wrong. Devil’s Brand began its life as The Darkest Shade, a Fifty Shades fanfic.

The Darkest Shade has apparently been pulled from, and even Google cache has nothing. Major’s blog used to post at least some of the chapters of Devil’s Brand (visible in Google cache for the moment) but they’ve been pulled too.The book is out in October 2012.

Going by Ms. Major’s blog, she’s written a number of M/F romances/erotica before, published by small/indie presses. The blog post that announces Devil’s Brand is tagged “fifty shades of grey”, so it looks like she’s not hiding her influence.

It will be interesting to see how Devil’s Brand performs critically and commercially relative to Fifty Shades of Grey. As I said before, I think FSOG managed to hit the sweet spot of having just enough BDSM, packaged in just the right way, to appeal to a vast, vanilla audience. Whether a book with more BDSM, plus non-monogamy and non-heterosexuality, plus supernatural elements, will have the same appeal remains to be seen.

While EL James’ commercial success makes me gnash my teeth, the idea that somebody has done to her what she did to Stephanie Meyer just makes me laugh. Live by the strong misreading, die by the weak misreading. (With the week I’ve had, I’m indulging in a little schadenfreude.)

What we’re seeing is layer upon layer of strong misreading. Stephanie Meyer misread the vampire canon, and particularly Anne Rice’s contribution, and produced an abstinence allegory. EL James misread it into a fantasy of class mobility and the virtues of domesticity. Casea Major misread EL James’ story, and shoved it back into the direction of the supernatural but also on a new vector towards greater sexuality.

Anna Freud described her internal process of mis-reading, turning a glimpsed story of medieval knights into gothic fantasies of captivity. This process need not be confined to the individual, but spread out from multiple texts and authors, who may be only loosely connected. Compare this evolution to the evolution from abolitionist media to master-slave pornography.

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