Houstonian Great Jane Moore

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I was thrilled when I was contacted by a representative from Veranda asking me if I would like to show pictures from the new issue of Veranda. Of course I would! Who can pass up real photographs – not scans from the magazine? Trust me I like to do my part for Pinterest.

Seriously though, I was honored to be asked and I do love putting these beautiful images on the internet where they will be enjoyed forever.

 

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The gorgeous cover!  I love the touches of lavender.  All photographs shown today are by the great Peter Vitale.

 

This month Veranda magazine honors Houston interior designer Jane Moore with a cover story.  Is this her third cover for Veranda?  I believe so.  I know her work has been published in the magazine at least 4 or 5 times.  Additionally, her work was included in the new The Houses of Veranda book by former Veranda editor Lisa Newsom.   Jane and Veranda are related – in laws of a sort.  You probably know the connection, but if not, Jane’s daughter Shannon is married to Lisa’s son Andrew.  Lisa started Veranda magazine over 25 years ago and just recently handed over the editorship to Dara Caponigro.  Andrew and Shannon Newsom own the fabulous Wisteria catalogue and Jane has helped out all these years – providing her great eye and picking out antiques to be reproduced by the company.

Jane Moore was a long standing designer and antiques importer when she became known to Houstonians in the late 90s after opening a shop near River Oaks with fellow designer Joe Shaffer.    Called Moore & Shaffer, it was filled with decorative items and antiques – mostly small accessories.   I know all this because I used to haunt the shop.   I remember getting a $500 check from my parents for my anniversary and heading right over there to buy a set of large antique books that I still have today.  The next year, with the same anniversary check, I splurged on a tiny red tole tray.  It was a real extravagance for me then.  Actually it still would be today! 

When that shop closed, Jane moved to her own space in a darling shingled house that looked more like Nantucket than Houston.  Several features in Veranda and Southern Accents helped make Jane a very popular figure in the antiques and design business.  It was around this time, after a trip to Sweden,  that her aesthetic changed dramatically.    She became one of the first in Houston to show these gorgeous Swedish and French painted pieces.  Along with Babs Watkins, Donna Gray, and Margaret Naeve – these ladies – all with impeccable taste – introduced lighter woods to Houston - creating what I now call the Houston Look. 

The Nantucket styled shop has recently closed and Jane’s moved on to a new home, a nearby townhouse which Veranda shows this month.  The townhouse is a total departure from her last house which was shown in Veranda in 2000.   It’s amazing how much design in Houston has changed in the past ten to twenty years.  Where once Jane’s house was English inspired, filled with dark woods and fashionably cluttered, today her townhouse is bright and airy with mostly limed and painted antiques.  Jane says she was ready to completely edit her look when she moved.  The new townhouse is filled with only what she wants in it – no one else.  And she loves it – she looks forward to coming home each day to a place that is filled with pieces she carefully selected from a lifetime of collecting.  

Today, I will show photographs of both her townhouse today and also her house in the 90s so that you can see how her style has evolved over years.   

 

Enjoy!

 

 

VERANDA: 2012

 

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The living room in Jane Moore’s new townhouse is filled with antique furniture and accessories.  The Louis XVI period gilt console on the left is a prized piece from her former home, as is the set of vintage upholstered furniture.  She added Fortuny pillows along with pops of lavender.  Notice the two worn 19th century leather chairs – these also came from her previous house.  My favorite?   The gilt console.   The slipped ottoman.  I just love that!  And the macaroni beaded sconces and the olive jar filled with hydrangeas. 

 

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Here a gorgeous 18th century tapestry hangs on the dining room wall, another piece that came from her former house.   The cane chairs are vintage while the fabulous dining table is 18th century French.   Be sure to notice the beautiful 18th century Swedish cupboard.   I love the way the tapestry is the main focal point and how it makes the room comes alive.  It is so large – what a find this was!   And I love how the green paint of the cupboard picks up the greens in the tapestry.

 

 

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Jane’s kitchen is remarkable.  She completely stripped out all the cabinets and put in a combination of tables and chests to make up her antique styled kitchen.   I don’t think I would be brave enough to do this – but I LOVE the way it looks!   Donna Gray is another Houston antique dealer who did something similar in her townhouse kitchen.  Notice the farm sink is in the limed cabinet which is actually an old French architect’s desk, and the dishwasher is in a marble topped built-in.  Above it all is a delicate 18th century gilt mirror and sconces.  Pots and pans are stored in the laundry baskets beneath the cabinet.   Notice how she pairs the antique table with industrial styled chairs.

 

 

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Here’s  a close up of the styling  I love all her French yellow ware and confit pots.  The pots hold her kitchen utensils.  Dishes and glasses are stored in the Swedish cupboard in the dining room.   The table is an antique gate leg which doubles as a working island. 

 

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Now don’t kill me Veranda, but this photograph came from a different magazine – Antique Shops & Designers.  It shows a little more of the kitchen that I wanted you see.  Notice the oven is off to the right of the sink.  And to the right is a sitting area with a large tufted sofa.  What a cozy room!  Since this picture was taken, there have been changes in this room as you will below.  You can tell that the photographer pulled out the sofa to get it in the same shot as the kitchen, but in reality – the sofa is in its own room.  Also, the industrial styled chairs weren’t being used back then – I think they are really a great addition.  Wonder where the refrigerator is hiding?

 

 

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Here is what the family area looks like today – the chairs have been slipped in a lavender linen which matches the pillows in the living room.  A blue and white striped dhurrie is from Carol Piper Rugs,  who has a great collection of flat striped rugs at her shop.  Along the wall Jane has added a 19th century étagère which is filled with her collection of French bowls.   The repeated bowls are so eye catching – this simple, utilitarian object becomes the focal point of the room.  The tufted sofa is also 19th century.  Notice the billowing linen shades which softens the room.  I love the modern, industrial touches – here the Belgian brick layer coffee table – mixeddddr with all the antique upholstered chairs and sofa creating an updated, fresh look. 

 

 

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Across from the sofa is a pair of old doors from Chateau Domingue

 

 

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In her bedroom, Jane continues the use of bleached, painted woods – shown here in the bench which came from the Wisteria catalogue.  The chair is antique – I love all antique upholstered chairs and sofas!!!  The headboard is slipcovered in linen.  Her bed is made with an assortment of white cottons and linens – but she adds a feminine touch of lace and a Fortuny pillow.   At the side of the bed is a painted Swedish chest.  What a pretty view of the treetops outside the balcony!!

 

 

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This might be my favorite part of her townhouse – the Belgian inspired garden.  All green with just box and ivy and bushes.  The pear trees are planted in rows to give an architectural feel to the space.  Doesn’t it look like an outside room within a room?  I love the old fountain and the two urns that stand at the “door” to the room.  And the white gravel…fabulous!!!  At the back – two obelisks stand at the corners of the garden.  Landscape design by Glauser McNair.

 

VERANDA 2000:

In the new Veranda article Jane says how happy she was to edit all her old possessions and take just what she, and she alone, wanted.  What a dream that must be!!! 

Before she moved to the townhouse, she lived in a Georgian styled home – which was decorated in the English country style – clutters of books and accessories and lots of red and yellow walls with black accents.   As I said earlier, it’s so fascinating to see how different design is today compared to 10 and 20 years ago when Jane first decorated her house.  This article originally was shown in Veranda in

 

 

 

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Photography is again by Peter Vitale.  And notice who produced this?  Carol Glasser!  I do miss these old days of Veranda.  Almost every month – or every other issue – there would be a fabulous Houston house.   If there wasn’t a Houston house, there would be a Texas one.  Glasser produced articles as did other designers.   Now, Veranda is more of an international magazine which is why it is so exciting that a Houston house is again on its cover!

 

Here, the entry hall into the Moore’s house.  You can feel the English vibe – right away!  Moore’s husband at the time collected antique toy soldiers – a hobby that Jane indulged him in.  Together they collected historical antiques – like this painting of a soldier on horseback.    Don’t think he has just a few toy soldiers – his collection was over 6,700 when this article was written and is considered the largest one in the country!

 

 

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Notice the gorgeous French gilt console?  It’s in Jane’s townhouse, in the living room!  The console is period Louis XVI with its original marble top.  The walls are yellow striped wallpaper.  On the console is a statue of the Duke of Wellington mixed in with beautiful tortoise shell boxes.  The bow was tied to resemble a soldier’s epaulet.

 

 

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The seagrass covered living room holds a collection of vintage furniture.  Notice this is the same collection that Jane is using in her living room today.  Another bust of the Duke of Wellington stands in the corner.  Red walls and black and white ticking fabrics.  These colors black and white were taken from military uniforms worn, while red came from national flags.   The colors were chosen to blend better with all the military memorabilia around the house.   Notice the gorgeous shades!!!  I remember back when this was my ideal decorating.  I tried to recreate this look in my own house until I got bit by the all white bug.  The house also reminds me of Carol Glasser’s former house before she redecorated it.   Ginger Barber’s houses from this time also were more colorful than they are today.   It was around this time that Renea Abbott opened up her Shabby Slips – making it easy for everyone to get white slipcovers.   Babs Watkin’s store was another huge influence on this switch from dark to light – just as Margaret Naeve’s is.  Another influential antique store was Skelton St. John.   The switch from English to Swedish and Belgian and French designs really made a huge difference in the way our houses looked. 

 

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Houston designers of this era used seagrass – before many had even heard of it in the states.  Creative Flooring is rumored to sell more seagrass than anyone else in the country.

 

 

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Another Duke of Wellington (Jane was really very patient!) and a beautiful red tole tray mixes with transferware.  All must-haves in an English styled house.

 

 

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The red sunporch had a skirted table – who didn’t have 2, 3, and 4 skirted tables in a house.  I covet that Napoleon 3rd period spool chair.  I wonder where that went to?   And a tole tray coffee table, another must-have as was the English tea tin. 

 

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The breakfast room has a charming black and white toile mixed with red paneling.   Rustic table, more transferware mixed with creamware.

 

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Sorry for the bad scans – but the magazine is over 12 years old!  I remember at the time that I just loved this bedroom.  I thought it was so beautiful  - probably because it was white!!  Another skirted table.  I used to have one skirted table in each room too.  I‘ll bet Jane still have this antique upholstered chair somewhere in her new house!

 

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And another darling bedroom with an antique tole bed, painted.  Pine desk. 

 

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The highlight of the house was the family room which was added on to the back.  The connecting hall was built to hold the largest collection of toy soldiers in the country!  Notice the two 19th century leather chairs.  These are in Jane’s living room today. 

 

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And the fabulous family room!  It was filled with comfortable chenille covered furniture.  Remember how popular chenille used to be.  No longer.  Whatever happened to it?  I thought this room was stunning – and it truly is.  You think you are in a country house in England, not Houston Texas!  Notice the tapestry – Jane uses this in her new dining room. 

 

 

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Her patio back then is similar to hers today – but while that garden is Belgian inspired, this is all English with the roses and fountain and teak furniture.

 

 

Four years later, Jane had another house in Veranda – in the foyer was a burlap covered settee – showing the new direction that Jane was going in.  It took a trip to Sweden to change her aesthetic – and change it did.   Unfortunately I had torn out that article for my collection of tearsheets and I can’t find it to show!!! If anyone has this magazine – email me!!! 

 

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This photograph is on the Veranda web site – I wonder if this is a guest room in the townhouse?  It is the iron bed from her former house, but it looks like there are two now?  Notice the beautiful chinoiserie table and black mirror.  Mystery solved?

 

 

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Here are a collection of ads that Jane created to run in Antique Shops & Designers.  This one shows a gorgeous Swedish demilune with tied books and a santos.

 

 

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A gorgeous, tall trumeaue sits behind a painted console.  That mirror!!

 

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Another gorgeous mirror mixed with a painted chest.  Can you see what a difference a real antique is compared to a faux antique.   I love those candlesticks and that capital.

 

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And this Swedish armoire and settee.   You can really see the difference in Jane’s aesthetic from her English inspired house to her Swedish inspired townhouse.  Her store’s ads reflect that change.

 

 

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If there was any doubt of Jane’s changing aesthetic, this article was all the proof.   It was one of Veranda’s most popular houses – evidence of this is it is included in The Houses of Veranda book.  The house is owned Jane’s daughter and Veranda’s Lisa Newsom’s son.   Shannon had also become a huge fan of Swedish furniture and when they purchased this new house, Jane filled it with antiques that are priceless today.   

 

 

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Here’s how the Shannon and Andrew’s house looks on the outside.  Box and more box.  Not a hint that the inside is pure Swedish!

 

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I adore this house and have shown it a million times, but I had to add it here in this story of Veranda and Jane Moore.  The story would not be complete without showing this wonderful Swedish inspired house.  French chairs mix with Swedish chairs and tables.  I love the checked ottoman.  Underneath, Jane put a flat dhurrie with no pattern but a light shade of blue. 

 

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The sofa in the living room and the Swedish chairs and table.  Notice how Jane mixed in contemporary lamps!

 

 

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Was this the first time we saw these kind of books used as decoration?  Probably.  Wisteria produced a faux book box that resembled this collection.  And the reproduced that mirror. 

 

 

 

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And in another corner, notice the Swedish desk with the built in clock!!! No wonder this picture made the cover – it’s stunning. I love the lone candlestick standing next to the desk.

 

 

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Another gorgeous corner in the living room.  Swedish chairs and console and bench.  A leather screen and a statue finishes it out.   This is such a beautiful vignette.  Is there anyone that doesn’t like this?   No!!!  I don’t believe you!!!!

 

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This might be my favorite all time dining room.  It inspired me – that’s for sure.  I bought a similar table and a similar chandelier after seeing this picture!!!  And I had to have a Mora clock.  Thanks Jane!!!  I love the lanterns on the cabinet.  This started me on my love of lanterns too.  So many things in this picture really influenced me.  I didn’t realize how many things inspired me from it until just now.

 

 

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Antique lanterns on the Swedish painted cabinet.  Later, Wisteria reproduced these for a while, but no longer.   Why not? 

 

 

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Off the living room is the brick floored sunroom, on the left.

 

 

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Here is an antique Swedish sofa with feedbag pillows –years before we all had to have those!  And notice the horse – a must-have in a Swedish house.

 

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Off the dining room is the kitchen with white marble and subway tile and a collection of white confit pots. 

 

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Their seagrass bedroom has the prettiest flip top table!!!!  White cotton and linens on the bed – just like mom’s bedroom.  And a bench with tiny nails that sits at the end.

 

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A trumeau and a Swedish antique chest sit next to a French chair. 

 

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Their gorgeous marble bathroom.  Notice the way the marble is carved behind the sinks.

 

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The prettiest little girl’s room ever.  Bennison fabric and scalloped ticking bedspread.  Who could ask for anything more?

 

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Well, you could ask for an antique Swedish sofa!!!  To die for!

 

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Out back is the Newsom’s charming screened in porch – filled with Kooboo chairs before we knew what they were!  Blue and white striped rug, just like moms.  I love this porch – I would be here all the time.

 

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And if you love the Wisteria catalogue, Paper City announced their new flea market located behind their store and warehouse in Dallas.  Go HERE for info on times and address.  I wish I lived in Dallas!!!!  I would be here all the time.  Notice the horse – reproduced by Wisteria – inspired by their own horse. 

 

 

Pictures of the Newsom’s house are located in both these books below.  If you would like to order them, just click on the picture.

 

 

 

 

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When Jane Moore recently moved out of her Nantucket inspired shop, Suzanne Duin moved right in.  Duin owns Maison Maison where she sells French and European antiques.  2922 Virginia Street.  More information HERE.

 

For a charming story about Jane Moore and the Newsom’s house, go HERE to The Indulge Décor blog.

 

And here is an interview with the Newsoms on Shabbynest’s blog HERE.

And many years ago, I wrote a story of how to copy a Swedish room (from the Newsom house) on a budget – unfortunately many of the sources aren’t available anymore!!  But some still are.  HERE.

To contact Jane Moore for interior design work and antiques, email her:  jmooreinte@aol.com

 

A huge thank you to Veranda for the gorgeous pictures!!!

I hope you enjoyed this look at Jane Moore’s work. 

HOW MANY SHADES OF GRAY? FIFTY? THE TRUE STORY ABOUT THE BOOK.

247 comments

 

 

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“Le Library”  Week Two.  Not much progress, or at least it’s a very, slow moving process, but, the carpenter brought a friend today to help speed him along!  Still needed are the two bookshelves flanking the window and the window seat.  And all the trim, then the shelves.  So…..maybe four more weeks?  My friend James, who works for Ben and who helped me clean out the office, told me his carpenter crew would have had this finished in days.   C’est la vie.  Remind me to sweep under those shelves before the base trim is applied. 

 

So, gray it is!  Gray walls and shelves and ceiling.  Here are the samples of fabrics I’m deciding on:

 

 

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This is one choice – a light gray/lavender taffeta with a silk check from Robert Allen – Callidora (I love this check – I used it in Elisabeth’s room in blue for her curtains.)

 

OR:

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This slightly more mauve-lavender with cotton checks from Pindler.

The taffetas both come from Highland Court/Duralee “Conners Collection” and they are gorgeous.  I tested taffetas from several different companies and this is by far the best one.  It’s very heavy and it is more matte than the others.  It’s not cheap, but it is still less than those from pricier houses.   If I had to pay retail prices – it would be too much, but the wholesale price is just right. 

When I showed Ben the area where I wanted to add the portieres, he went nuts.  “Drapes???  Here???  What????  Are you serious?   Why?”   Thank God I didn’t use the word “portieres” – he would have really passed out.  After he calmed down a bit – he was just showing off for Elisabeth’s boyfriend’s benefit  -  I went into my usual “are you really questioning me about decorating?  Really?  You really want to go there?” 

Don’t tell Ben, but the truth is, I don’t think I am going to be able to do the portieres between the alcove leading to the bathroom after all, because the shelves butt up right at the doorway’s molding.  I may still do them on the closet door though.   Or the taffeta might just be used for the window shade.  By the way, Ben hated the idea of French doors instead of regular doors too.  Just saying.  And the chandelier.  He got a big laugh out of that.  As if I asked him for his opinion!!!  Lesson #1 in decorating  - leave the husband out of it.

So, that’s this week’s update on the library.  Gray paint, as in Fifty Shades of Grey.  OK, OK OK !!! 

 

 

I’m sure you’ve realized that the REAL topic today is the book series Fifty Shades of Grey.  This week Vicki who writes the gorgeous blog French Essence, wrote about the book and I was stunned by how many people commented on it.   I glanced at the names to see if her commenters are the same as mine and since I didn’t recognize any of the names, I thought I would ask sweet Vicki if she would mind if I stole her topic.  I figured if that many people wanted to talk about the book on a French blog, maybe you might want to voice your own opinion of it here, too!!  So, here it goes – get that coffee and settle in:

 

 

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THE TRUE STORY OF FIFTY SHADES OF GREY :

The book series that has taken the world by storm is a publishing phenomenon.  The three books that make up the series have been on best seller lists all around the world – including both the United States and England.  More than 40 million copies have been sold as of this month.  Think about that – 40 million – !   It is now Amazon’s fastest selling paperback of ALL times – even topping the Harry Potter books.   Everyone is talking about it – though mostly in hushed tones.  No one really wants to admit that they are reading the steamy, erotic novel with its undertones of bondage and domination, but obviously millions and millions are, especially on their e-readers where no one can see the book’s distinctive cover. 

 

 

The three different book covers of the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

 

 

Now, I have a confession to make.   I actually read this book – a few years ago, almost three years, to be exact.  How is that possible you might ask – it was just published last summer?  Well, here is the story of Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight and how they are connected.  Because believe it or not, Twilight and Fifty are inextricably connected. 

As you probably know, I am a HUGE Twilight fan – a Twihard, a Twimom, or a Twi-idiot- take your pick.   I first got hooked on the Twilight world after watching my daughter’s DVD of the first movie based on the Twilight book series.  At that time, there had only been 1 movie released – 4 more movies were to come later.  After I watched the movie, I got addicted to anything and everything about teenage vampires in love - chaste love - but love nonetheless.  Within a week of watching that first movie, I read all four books by Stephenie Meyer:  Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.  Though the series was written for the teen/young adult age group, the books transcended these limits and appealed to fans of all ages.

 

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The poster from the first Twilight movie starring Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Rob Pattinson as Edward Cullen.

 

After I had devoured all four books – then what?  Well besides rewatching the Twilight DVD a billion times – what do you do when you are addicted to a book after you finish reading it?  While searching the internet for more Twilight trivia, I discovered something called Fan Fiction or fanfic for short.  What in the world is fanfic, I wondered?  I was then guided into the world of www.fanfiction.net and now, three years later, I still haven’t come up for air. 

Fanfiction is this:   Imagine you are reading Gone With The Wind and you come to the end and wonder, hmm, did Rhett ever come to his senses and return to Scarlett?    If you wanted to, you could write a new ending for GWTW where Rhett DOES come back for Scarlett.  Or you could write a new ending  where Rhett comes back and marries India, Scarlett’s sister, or you could rewrite the book where Rhett turns gay and marries Ashley!  Or you could write an entirely new book and have Scarlett marry Ashley and there isn’t even a Rhett.  You could write anything you want about GWTH – and this would be called fanfiction.

Simply put, fanfiction is where authors and non-authors rewrite books (and movies) and then publish them for free on the internet fanfiction.net website.  Believe it or not, there are millions of fanfiction stories about different books.  The most popular books for fanfic rewrites are the Harry Potter series, Twilight and Lord of the Rings.    Hundreds of thousands of people have sat down and written alternative endings or retold stories about their favorite books – and this is called fanfiction.  

And so, after I had finished all the REAL Twilight books, I started reading Twilight fanfiction.  Some of the stories would be about teenager vampires, but many were about Edward & Bella as humans, older, married or divorced – not vampires at all but just regular people.  There are over 200,000 Twilight fanfics stories.  Some might be just one chapter long but others might be over 80 chapters – there are no rules in fanfic.  Some are horribly written.  In fact, many of those 200,000 ARE horribly written.  But, some are good – very, very well written.  There are other websites that sprang up that write reviews of the innumerable fanfics – so that it’s easier to wade through the 200,000 stories and find the good ones.    And, as you are reading these well written fanfic stories, you think, “WOW, this is good enough to be published as its own book – if only the names were not Edward & Bella.”   In reality, some fanfiction HAS been published, after the author first changed the names and the title.

One very popular Twilight fanfiction book was called “Master of the Universe.”  It was a steamy, erotic story about Edward, a billionaire who had kinky sexual tastes.  He was a dominant (something I had never even HEARD of before!)  who liked to exhibit his control over women.   One day Edward, the impossibly gorgeous billionaire, meets a young, clumsy college student, a virgin, named Bella.  They fall in love.  But Bella doesn’t share his kinky side.   Sound familiar?

 

Most popular fanfiction stories get their own covers – produced by its fans. This was a cover of Master of the Universe – starring the real actors who played Edward and Bella in Twilight.

 

Fanfiction is strange in that the authors mostly post their story as it is being written, one chapter at time.  So, while reading Master of the Universe, I would have to wait each week for a new chapter.  It’s torture when the author writes a cliffhanger chapter and then leaves for a three week vacation!    But, that’s fanfiction.  The author of Master of the Universe was anonymous, her name as we knew it was Snowqueen’s Icedragon.   Her fans all just called her Icy for short.  Icy became a very, very popular author on the Twilight Fanfic scene.  In fact, I would say out of all the 100,000s of authors, she was in the top ten.  EVERYONE loved her story Master of the Universe.  Everyone.  The comment reviews of her story reached over 40,000.  Usually a fanfiction author considers over 1,000 comments as wildly successful.  Forty thousand comments was, and still is, unheard of.    It just shows how very popular Icy’s story was.

When Icy finally finished writing Master of the Universe, we all screamed for a sequel.  And she gave us that.  We also all screamed – “Icy, you should publish this as a book!'’   All she had to do was change the names Edward and Bella and change the town of Forks where they lived – so it would not be identified as a Twilight story.  Easy.

 

 

 

I guess you know where this all leads, right?  Icy, now known as E.L. James, DID publish her book in 2011, under a small house that specializes in publishing reworked fanfiction.  The rest is history.  Once Master of the Universe was changed to Fifty Shades of Grey, and Edward Culen became Christian Grey, and Bella Swan became Anastasia Steele, it was reviewed on Goodreads, an internet site for book reviews.  From there, a Long Island book club chose to read Fifty Shades of Grey and they went crazy for it.  They told all their friends about the book – and the wildfire started.  For a time, Fifty was known as the Long Island Book Club book – “mommy porn” for the SUV set.  In fact, E.L. James came to talk with these women at a high priced luncheon.  Overwhelmed by their adoration, the shy author broke down and cried.

 

 

At book signings across the country, the Fifty Shades crowds have been huge.

 

After the enthusiastic word of mouth push, the small publishing house that E.L. James (Icy) chose to publish Fifty couldn’t handle the demand.  They quickly sold the book to Random House which this year sold the 40 million copies PLUS.  The movie rights were also purchased.  The same team that brought us “Social Network” about Facebook will soon bring us Fifty Shades of Grey on the big screen.  It has been said that E.L. James’ first paycheck from all this is over $50 million.   WOW.

 

 

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This is the woman who wrote the sexy novel everyone is reading?  Really?

 

Icy, or E.L. James, or Erika Leonard which is her REAL name, is a middle aged, overweight, very shy person.  (sounds like me!)   She and her husband are both English and both work in Television in Britain.  Erika wrote her fanfic Master of the Universe anonymously while going to and fro work on the subway.  No one knew who she really was.  No one knew she had two teenaged boys.  But once she published the first book – still anonymously under E.L. James, Erika Leonard was forced to come out of hiding.   And she did, reluctantly.   Now she appears on TV and in person, giving talks and interviews about her book  –  she doesn’t like it, but she has to do the press tour.  She never thought anyone would find about the erotic novel she wrote in secret, but now the world knows her name and face.  She is mortified at the thought that her two boys might read it.  Never, she says!    And does Erika acknowledge her Twilight connections?

 

 

Christian’s line to Ana when she makes him angry!

 

Of course Erika acknowledges the Twilight connection.  She has to – too many of us know that Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fanfic for her to ever deny it.  But what does the author of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer say?  Not much really.  Meyer is a very devout Mormon, she would NEVER read anything so racy as Fifty Shades of Grey.  Nor will she ever.    And,  she chose not to challenge her copyright to the story.  You see, while Meyer has allowed fanfiction to be written about her Twilight books, some authors don’t.  For example, there is no Anne Rice fanfiction – she doesn’t allow it.  If she did, trust me, there would be 1,000s of fanfics of her famous books.  Icy was lucky that Stephenie Meyer gave her OK – otherwise no one would have read this all time best seller.

 

 

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Icy says that women fantasize about meeting a handsome billionaire.  Do you?

 

In fact the comparison of the rags to riches stories of Icy and Stephenie Meyer are remarkably similar.  Both are first time authors with no prior writing experience who both wrote best sellers their first time out.  Selling millions of copies of your first book is something that is so rare, it is almost unheard of.   Both women are from modest backgrounds who have made staggering amounts of money.  Both have had or will have films made of their first novel.   And the search for the actor to play Christian Grey will equal the world wide search for Edward Cullen, the role that eventually went to heartthrob and basically unknown Rob Pattinson.  When Pattinson was announced as the pick for the role, fans went crazy.  “He is too ugly to play the most beautiful vampire in the world!  His face looks like a foot! NO!!!!”   It wasn't until the Twilight movie came out that Rob was accepted by the fans.   The search for Christian Grey will probably be even more controversial.  Icy has said she wants unknowns to play Grey and Ana.  Fans aren't so sure about that!

 

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The four actors most often named by fans to play Christian Grey:  Ryan Gosling, Ian Somerhalder, Michael Fassbender, Simon Baker.  Of the four, Ian gets the most press.  He is handsome, but I would love for them to pick an unknown for both Christian and Ana!

 

The economic effects of the Fifty phenomenon are striking. Barnes and Nobles reported this month that the reason for their unexpected gain this period is the “strong sales of the Fifty Shades of Grey series.” Then, there is a noted increase in pregnant woman that is being attributed to the book. Women are calling their expected babies – a Fifty Shades baby, due to their spiced-up marriages. Icy recently signed a licensing agreement for a range of products to be sold – stockings, garters, pjs and hoodies. Also, she collaborated on the Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album - Christian Grey is of course a noted pianist and aficionado of classical music. One love making scene is set to the music of the obscure work by Tallis: Spem in Alium The internet download of that heretofore rarely listened to piece of music climbed to #1 on the ITunes Classical music charts!   Finally, adult stores also report large gains in sales due to the book’s steamy content. 

 

 

 

Is the book good?  I loved it.  I’ll admit it.  But the reviews have been mixed.  Most literary critiques have slammed the book as poorly written.   I must have bad taste.  I thought it was highly entertaining, funny and  sexy, and shocking too – all at the same time.  It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.  There are a few passages (well, more than a few!) that will make you blush bright red, but mostly it’s a lot of give and take snappy verbal sparring between Ana and Christian.    I have read both the original Fanfic version and the Fifty Shades of Grey version.  Except for the differences in the names, and Ana’s eye color, the two are exactly alike – but for one thing – the price.   Free copies of the Master of the Universe copy are available on the internet, if you know how to look for it.  Email me if you want one – I’ll send it to you.  Plus – the book only has three Christian POV (point of views) – the original fanfic had a few more, including their break up scene told in Edward’s voice. 

 

 

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Taking notes? 

 

Since the outrageous success of Fifty Shades, a few other of the best written Twilight fanfics have been published.   One is Gabriel’s Inferno.  And I highly recommend it.  Its nothing like Fifty Shades though, so don’t read it looking for bondage and whips and chains.  It’s just a good  and  very mysterious love story between a college professor and one of his students – with heavy Dante connections.  Dante and fanfiction????  Yes.   Another famous fanfic that is now in publication is called Sempre.  And again, I can highly recommend it.  This time, the book is about human slavery in the United States and the Mafia.  But really, it’s a sweet love story between two young people.  See a trend here?  All sweet love stories.    No wonder I love Twilight fan fiction so much!

 

 

                                                                  

Click to order Gabriel’s Inferno KINDLE on the left and in paperback on the right

 

                                                             

Click to order Sempre on KINDLE on the left, or the paperback book on the right.

 

In closing – nothing is original, everything is derivative, especially literature.    Many people, especially literary critics decry the fanfic genre.  In reality, there is fanfiction that flows through much of the written word.  For instance West Side Story is basically a fanfiction retelling of the story of Romeo & Juliet, which itself was taken from an Italian poem.   And think of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice which has been rewritten as both the movies Clueless, and Bridget Jones’ Diary.  Many Disney movies are retellings of more famous stories - The Jungle Book is simply Rudyard Kipling’s Robin Hood.  And Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is a fanfic of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.   Even the bible has been rewritten by fans:  Ben Hur, The Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell – all works based on the bible, rewritten for popular consumption.     So for anyone who judges the validity of Fanfic remember, not much out there is new under the sun. Everyone is inspired by someone, just as Icy was inspired by Twilight. (I have a list of 100s of the most obvious examples of fanfics through the ages – email me and I’ll send the list to you.)

  And as Vicky of French Essence asked me – is there now Fifty Shades fanfic?  Yes, there is!  On www.fanfiction.net, there are now over 200 fanfics written about Fifty Shades.  Oh, the irony.   Fanfiction written about fanfiction!  There are over 200,000 fanfics written about Twilight, over 600,000 rewritten stores about Harry Potter AND there are over 700 retellings of the book Gone With the Wind  - I looked it up! 

 

These cards are just so funny!

 

Finally, what is the appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey?  Why are so many people reading it?  Icy puts it simply, women fantasize about a handsome, rich man sweeping them off their feet and taking total care of them.  With all the responsibilities women have today – work, home, motherhood – the fantasy of having a man control one aspect of their lives is appealing.  Of course, here, that aspect takes place in the bedroom!!   Icy claims to have no experience in the type of kinky lifestyle she writes about, and most people who read the book agree.  It’s all new territory to them.  But many also say the book has helped their marriage by putting the spark back into it.  Maybe that is the appeal?  Basically, it’s just a love story, highly erotic, but  a love story nonetheless.  It’s also a book about compromise, changing for your partner and evolving.      

 

 

So, now I ask you – did you read Fifty Shades of Grey? Did you like it? Did you realize that this best seller was really Twilight fanfiction? Did you know of that connection?   Is the book too racy for you?  Is it too explicit or did you enjoy that part of the story?  Did the book put a little spice back into your marriage as many readers have claimed?  Or, did you find it just a piece of trash and throw it in the garbage, unfinished? Or, have you refused to read it on grounds that it has too much sex in it? 

I am really curious to see what you think of this book!  It was the talk of the summer.  Whenever someone mentioned they were reading a book on their Kindle, it was always Fifty Shades!  Be honest now!  You can sign in anonymously if you want.  I already confessed I enjoyed it, but I suspect many will say they didn’t like it at all.  Should be interesting. 

 

P.S. If you are interested in reading Twilight Fanfic – email me, I’ll send you a list of my favorites. 

  P.S.S. And if you are one of the only people left who doesn’t have the books – you can order them here:

 

 

                                                                       

Here is the series of all three books bundled together.  The KINDLE is on the left, the paperback is on the right. You can order them separately if you like, on Amazon.

 

And, now, in the words of the famous Decorno, DISCUSS!!!!

Laters, baby!

 

 

 Fifty Shades of Grey

 

 

NOTE:  The giveaway is now planned for after Labor Day.  Sorry for the delay.  But I want everyone back in town to be able to enter it!