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Tréy Sager on moral relativism and resisting categorization alongside Fifty Shades of Gray

Anna Moschovakis interviews Tréy Sager in Bomb Magazine about his breakout romance Fires of Siberia. Our favorite Q+A:

AM: I was struck by how the early mainstream media attention to the book completely ignored any art-world cred it might have as a result of its publishing platform. I saw a lot of “a Fifty Shades of Grey for Michele Bachmann,” without much discussion of whether or how this book might differ from standard romance-novel fare. Has this surprised you? Was there a specific goal in terms of the publicity that you and Badlands sought, and was your marketing geared toward that goal? I guess one way to word this question is: Was this whole thing a publicity stunt?

TS: It’s been super weird and fun to watch the coverage metastasize over such a short period of time. We didn’t introduce the idea of Fifty Shades at all. I haven’t even read Fifty Shades, but supposedly there’s a lot of BDSM in it. It’s crazy to me how people are titillated slightly and then immediately foist that kind of sex into the world of Michele Bachmann. That cracks me up. Or maybe Fifty Shades just has so much pop-culture currency, I don’t know.

It might be worth mentioning that the idea for the heroine in Fires didn’t exactly originate with Michele Bachmann. It started with me thinking about a character who was a master, or near-master, of civilization, and thinking about separating her from that life to explore a non-civilized way of being with another person—sort of the most basic survival society possible. What was important in that world? What is happiness and love? Michele Bachmann just seemed to dovetail with what I was reading about heroine behavior. Thinking about her interest in governing the body—as in abortion and Christian moral codes—and after a long conversation with Paul . . . well, it made a lot of sense.

Read the rest of the interview on Bomb Magazine.