Between the Covers 19/08/2012

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
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The Independent Culture

Between the Covers can exclusively reveal the identity of the mysterious Vanessa Parody – the author who has achieved the unique feat of writing a 50 Shades of Grey spin-off worth reading. (Between the Covers is making a little pile of near-identical 50 Shades of Grey spin-offs – not for holiday reading, but you never know when you might run out of cat litter when all the shops are shut.)

Fifty Shelves of Grey, published by Constable & Robinson, offers "a selection of great books, erotically remastered", including 1984 ("Big Brother is watching you … Big Brother likes to watch"); Three Men in a Boat ("So, chaps," I said, "have you ever boffed on a boat?"); and The Da Vinci Code (in which a Professor of Symbolology wrestles with an Opus Dei nun for the secret of the whereabouts of the mythical G-Spot).

In fact, Ms Parody is a cover for four writers. Amy Shindler wrote for the TV sitcom My Family, and plays Brenda Tucker in The Archers; Clare Thomson has just finished in the West End run of One Man, Two Guv'nors; Kerry Glencorse is a literary agent; and Marie Phillips is the one of the writers behind Radio 4's comedy series Warhorses of Letters and the author of Gods Behaving Badly (which has been adapted into a film starring Sharon Stone and Christopher Walken).

Reading extracts from 50 Shelves last Sunday, Marie Phillips made it through to the final of Literary Death Match at the Wilderness Festival, winning praise from the Literary Merit judge for being, well, that much better than the original. "I wish I'd sold as many copies as the original," she sighed. If there were any justice ....


Thanks to The Bookseller's "Accelerators" chart for news that The Chimp Paradox, by Dr Steve Peters, has seen a 124 per cent increase in sales in the past week owing to its author's involvement with Team GB cyclists. Dr Peters is a sports psychologist, whose book explains how to tame the "inner chimp" – the irrational, emotional part of the mind. His work with Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy helped them to win golds in the Olympics, so it's only right that his book should win a sales medal, too.


It's not in the Accelerators chart, but Fisher's Face (Faber & Faber) by Jan Morris deserves a fillip following the discovery that its subject, Admiral of the Fleet Lord John Arbuthnot "Jacky" Fisher (1841-1920) was the first recorded person to have used the expression "OMG!" The book is described as "both biography and love letter" to Fisher, who wrote to Winston Churchill in 1917: "I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis. O.M.G. (Oh! My! God!) – Shower it on the Admiralty!!"


Meanwhile, riding high on the success of the film of her work The Woman in Black, Susan Hill has written a new ghost story to be published in time for Halloween. Profile will publish Dolly on 5 October (£9.99); it's set among the Fens, and has a spooky doll, an ageing spinster aunt and a cruel housekeeper. "Just as I say I don't think I will ever have another idea for a ghost story, one pops up," says Hill. Profile's MD, Andrew Franklin, claims that it makes "what little hair I have left stand on end".