Unsurprisingly, Guardian readers have been rubbishing my so-called sex scene in today’s paper, where I was one of several writers asked to try to turn on women with words and so further help fuel the incredible Fifty Shades of Grey publicity campaign.
As EL James’ S and M trilogy continues to break all records, and swell the coffers of my publisher, Random House, with its multi-million sales, The Guardian asked if I would submit an offering, along with people like Jenny Colgan, AL Kennedy, Will Self and Jeanette (hot scene) Winterson.
So here is what they published…
I felt like an adolescent boyfriend being taken back to a new girlfriend’s house as we went up in the lift. I didn’t want to stand too close to her as it carried us to our floor, even after the intimacy of our walk. She was clearly feeling the same sense of excitement tinged with unease. She even said ‘Here we are then’ as she fished her swipe card from her bag.
‘Is this the moment when I ask if you want to come in for a coffee?’ she said, smiling.
She was standing about four feet away from me. I looked long and hard, trying to read those eyes. Was she still pulling me in, or pushing me away? Then, before I knew it, I was kissing her.
‘Are you crazy!’ she said, drawing away. ‘Not here!’ She unlocked the door to her room and pulled me in.
It was dark inside. The change of atmosphere froze us momentarily, as if we suddenly realised the enormity of what we were doing. Maya walked across the room to turn on a lamp. Then she sat down on the side of the bed and kicked off her shoes.
I walked over and stood by her. I held my hand towards her. She took it, and I sat down beside her. Then I bent my head towards her ear.
‘You said I was the best friend you’ve ever had,’ I whispered. ‘Can I be the best lover too?’
I mean God Almighty, you’re not going to get too frisky on that, are you? No wonder the words ‘lame’, not to mention ‘limp’, were coming onto my twitterfeed. So in the interests of that old pal rebuttal, here is the rest of the scene I sent them.
I felt so much better now the words were out. My heart slowed, I let out a big sigh, and felt the dryness leave my mouth.
She didn’t say anything, so I reached out to touch her hair. She closed her eyes. It wasn’t an answer to my question but I took it as permission to go further.
I kept my fingers in her hair and with my other hand caressed her closed eyelids and then her cheek. Maya shot her hand across to hold my lower arm and for a moment I worried she was angry, felt I had gone too far, and she was going to move my hand away, but then I realised the firmness of her grasp was to encourage me. She wanted more. Her eyes remained closed, as she fell backwards on to the bed.
‘Look at me,’ I said.
She opened her eyes slowly.
‘I love you,’ I said.
‘I know,’ she said. ‘I wish I’d seen it before, just how much.’ I moved my hand to her shoulder, then the back of her neck. I had touched her arm many times, but never her neck or her bare shoulders. The skin was softer than I could have imagined. I ran my forefinger round to her throat, then traced a line down to the place where her skin met the neckline of her satin dress. Then I allowed my hand to slide underneath the fabric. She wasn’t wearing a bra. I reached down to cup her breast. She breathed in sharply, leaning towards me. I felt dizzy.
I took a deep breath, my hand immobile for a few seconds, just holding a breast that had fed so many fantasies, so much frustration. It felt better than the best of any fantasy. Then I indulged another fantasy. I gripped the expensive fabric of her green dress in my two hands and I tore it. With a shimmer, the silk fell away to her waist. It was the first time I had seen her breasts. Though there were several highly erotic scenes in An English Rose Abroad, Maya had never been filmed naked from the front. Now there they were, perfect objects of desire, my hands touching them and my lips moving down to kiss them. I ran my tongue around her nipples and then into the valley of her throat and up to her lips.
‘Kiss me,’ I said, and as she did I felt both her hands on my shoulders, then running down my back, up to my shoulders again, as our tongues ended a two-decade courtship, circled each other again and again, till I sucked her hard into my mouth, and she me into hers. She grabbed at my belt, helped me open my trousers, then force them to the floor as she pulled me on top of her. My hands fell away from her breasts but I wanted them back there, to make that moment of first contact endure. I raised myself up so that I could keep my mouth on hers but also touch her nipples once more, then I moved down to kiss them, and as I kissed and nipped and bit, she grabbed my hair, tugged it hard and began to emit little gasps, momentary bursts of sound that said to me I was giving her pleasure. Her pleasure was now my sole ambition.
She brought her mouth back to mine, then tugged on my shoulder, and I was lying on top of her, the outside of my thighs touching the inside of hers. I felt her calves on mine as she locked her legs around me, our tongues danced around each other once more, and she was wriggling beneath me, her hands on my hips, Then she was pulling me towards her, directing me to everything I had ever hoped for. I thought the walls were going to fall down as we stroked and screamed our way through hours of pleasure to the union for which my whole life had been a preparation.
Now ok, I accept the odd ripped dress might not match a whole load of spanking and roping and generally inflicting pain upon one’s partner, but the stuff The Guardian did not print, I hope you agree, is a little steamier than the stuff they did.
There is more where it came from, as the whole scene was taken from my second novel, Maya, and was nominated for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award (one of those awards it is good to get nominated for, but which you’d rather not win). From what I can gather from the millions of women reading Fifty Shades, they seem to think it is the good sex in a badly written book that explains the phenomenon, but the phenomenon is astonishing.
Of course what happens now is that millions of men will read it to find out why millions of women already have. I cannot imagine EL James ever realised the full scale of the commercial success she was unleashing, and nor did her publisher, frantically trying to find new freelance printers to keep up with demand. But they know now, and are appreciative of this incredible bonus to their year on year planning.
If anyone fancies anything a little more highbrow and historical, then Random House are keen to remind you there are other books available for purchase at the moment, such as this one, Burden of Power, and that signed dedicated copies can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
My first book, The Blair Years, extracts of all my diaries, was a Number 1 bestseller, and the second bestselling book of the Blair era after Tony’s Journey. The fact that Fifty Shades is selling more in the UK in a week than mine sold in total, despite that No 1 slot, gives you a sense of just why the Random House smiles are so wide in these difficult economic times.
Meanwhile New York rope-sellers say they have never known such demand, and I am wondering whether to rush out my next volume, Fifty Shades of Power, the Clare Short fantasy years, before sanity returns to the market.