E.L. James: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Author’s Twitter Q&A Goes Horribly Awry

It didn’t take long for the Twitter Q&A with author E.L. James to turn into an opportunity for critics of Fifty Shades of Grey to make their opinions heard loud and clear. James’ publisher asked her to participate in the online chat where Twitter users were invited to ask the Fifty Shades author questions using the hashtag, #AskELJames. The session took place in Twitter’s U.K. headquarters and was in part to promote Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey As Told by Christian, which gives Christian’s version of the story between himself and Anastasia Steele.

While some of the questions were from fans, many of James’ detractors began criticizing her, and the social media event turned downright ugly. James has long been criticized for writing books that many see as romanticizing abuse and perpetuating rape culture.

What do you dislike more, Independent strong woman or the English language? #AskELJames

— Trevor Donovan (@TrevDon) June 29, 2015

Some Twitter users came to E.L. James’ defense, saying those tweeting hateful messages to her are behaving in an abusive way they are supposed to be against while others said they were saddened by what transpired.

Author Chuck Wendig wrote a blog post titled, “Online is IRL [In Real Life],” in which he discusses the difference between criticizing a book and attacking the author. His post also raises the issue of people who say hateful things online that they would never say to a person’s face and are fully aware they have a large audience.

“When it stops being a criticism of the book and becomes an attack on the author, that gets scary to me… But the sheer overwhelming tide of it just starts to feel septic. Like everybody’s just choosing to projectile vomit on a person, and not even for the effect of making the person feel it but more for the effect of making sure everyone else sees you doing it.”

It isn’t clear how many of the tweets E.L. James saw, but she didn’t respond to any of them, instead choosing to answer light, fluffy questions from fans. At the end of the hour, she called it an “interesting” one and thanked fans for their time.

What do you think of the Twitter Q&A session catastrophe with author E.L. James?

[Photo by Ian Gavan]