Author Linda Watson on Fifty Weeks of Green: When I learned that Fifty Shades of Grey had outsold the Harry Potter books, I had to check it out. I found the first chapter online and read it eagerly.
Anna, the heroine, literally falls into the office of a business tycoon. His office manager is "stern" to her new nervous new intern. The poor intern "scoots and scurries."
The tycoon, Christian Grey, gloats that if he were to sell his company, over twenty thousand people would be struggling to pay their mortgages "after a month or so." He hints at expensive hobbies.
Anna laps it up: "You sound like the ultimate consumer."
Ghahh! Here was the enemy I've been fighting all my adult life.
I was shocked. Shocked! So I read more. Fifty Shades of Grey is full of disgusting and often illegal behavior. Conspicuous consumption. Violence and intimidation toward employees. Even nepotism!
OK, not quite nepotism. Anna is only Christian Grey's girlfriend when he buys the publishing house she works for. He zooms her up the ladder from rookie assistant to head editor. Now that's a fantasy!
Yes, it was a page turner with plenty of kinky sex. But what I found disturbing was the behavior to others, outside the bedroom. Even Anna, when she gets a chance, images herself as a "gladiatrix" during her first meeting with their beautiful architect.
I knew I had to write a book that was supposed to be funny, one that fights leather with laughter. A romance for the 99%.
So what's the recipe for that? Start a ripe heroine. One with flavor, not an ditzy virgin like Anna in Fifty Shades. Here's the beginning of Fifty Weeks of Green.
The First Box
I grimace at myself in the mirror as I cram a dusty hiking hat over my cascade of curly black hair. Damn Saturdays, damn my Italian ancestors, and damn Charlotte Conover for sticking me with her CSA box today. Just because the keynote speaker for some foodie festival canceled at the last minute and she had to fly to San Francisco was no reason to stick me with a box of arugula and beets.
"Please Sophia?" she'd crooned. "Don't let all those organic vegetables rot on a shelf somewhere. They need to get out—and so do you!"
I fight through Christmas traffic to the mall. They've put up a huge Christmas tree over the underground parking entrance. How odd to drive beneath such a huge tree, park next to a Target, and then ride an escalator to the farmers' market! I grab the reusable box from last week's order and curse again as the wind sweeps receipts for my farewell expense report under nearby cars. I grab up the papers I can find, resettle my hat, and ride up to the square.
Blinking in the bright sunlight, I scan the red and green banners with all the hopeful, helpful names. Bah, humbug! The economy is in the toilet, the planet is heating up, and I haven't gotten laid in forever. Not since IBM summoned Kenny back to East Fishkill to help with that superchip. Why couldn't Charlotte just skip the kumbaya and thaw frozen blocks of food like everyone else? ... [more in video]