Katie Collins, 24, is the Irish woman who has penned ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ a new blockbuster memoir that is quickly being referred to as the “real” ‘50 Shades of Grey.’
Collins’ experiences with the Irish “sexual underground” may be seen as controversial to some, but it has reached as high as the number two spot on the iBooks biography chart in the UK and in Australia, and made the US top 20, proving its undeniable allure.
In an exclusive interview Collins sounds like any other young Irish woman-- but she has a dark past.
Now 24, Collins says she is busy with school and work, which doesn’t leave her as much time as she used to have for the sexual lifestyle she was involved with since she was a teenager.
The only difference between ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ and ‘50 Shades of Grey’? Collins says, is that her book is all reality, while the author of ‘50 Shades,’ E.L. James, is writing about fantasy.
“That book is about a woman’s fantasies,” said Collins of ‘50 Shades,’ “this is acted out.”
Collins - a pseudonym, in order to protect the author’s identity - first began stripping on webcams when she was only 13. She had her first sexual experience with a garda she met online when she was 14. She later moved into fetishism, S&M, and swingers’ parties.
Collins says she got involved with the “controversial” lifestyle when she was a single woman living amongst friends who were mostly involved in their own monogamous relationships. At the time, she found herself wondering, “Why can’t I enjoy the physical side of a relationship without the relationship?” It was from there that she began looking to online sites to meet men.
Collins describes getting into the scene as “one step after another.” She says how one particular guy told her about parties, and then she found herself “boom, just right into it.”
Naturally, most of Collins’ experiences took place in Dublin, where she is still based today. “A lot more things happen in Dublin,” Collins explains; by things, she is referring to the bondage games, group sex, and fetish orgies she regularly participated in.
Collins first began writing her book, ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ over a year ago after she met journalist Robert Carry at a barbecue. As a journalist, Carry was interested in learning more about the parties Collins was so familiar with, and asked if he could tag along for one. Collins was up for it, and soon enough his article about the experience was gaining notoriety.
Following the publication of Carry’s article, the two were invited for interviews on several Irish radio stations. It was from there that Carry suggested that they should team up for a book.
Thus, ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ wasn’t necessarily inspired by ‘50 Shades of Grey,’ but was rather a happy “coincidence,” as Collins said, that the two came out around the same time.
Collins does admit with a bit of a chuckle that she hasn’t read ‘50 Shades of Grey’ - after all, she is a writer now with ‘50 Shades’ being not only her biggest comparison, but also her biggest competition.
‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ is making its mark on the Irish book markets. On August 12, the book’s co-writer Robert Carry (@Carrier11) tweeted: “Madness. My book has been on iBooks less than 24 hours and it's already #1 in biography and #5 overall.”
The following day, it inched closer to the top on iBook as only the ‘50 Shades’ trilogy was beating it. Similarly, it’s been making waves across the pond as it cracked the top fifty books on Amazon last month, but has since slipped back down to 61st most popular biography.
The book itself spares no details, which makes sense as Collins insists that she is generally open to speak about her experiences. When asked if her family and friends knew, she said that most did, but to varying degrees.
Collins’ mother knew about her sexual lifestyle in the Irish underground pretty much from the beginning. However, Collins remembers with a bit of a laugh telling her sister about her book being published - all the while forgetting that her sister didn’t know about her sexual background.
“It was like dropping two bombs at once,” Collins said. She did add that she and her sister have become closer now after Collins came clean.
As for her friends, Collins says a lot of them knew about her lifestyle anyway, but don’t necessarily know it’s her that’s behind the book.
Either way, Collins seems to be pleased with the response that society is providing in the wake of both her book and ‘50 Shades of Grey.’
“Women can be comfortable with reading this kind of thing, comfortable with their bodies,” said Collins. “Now is the time,” she adds, saying that women are talking more about how they feel and what they do.
“Why should a woman feel almost oppressed by what she wants to do?”
When asked if she plans on writing a second book, Collins said there is always a possibility, but no plans yet. She realizes that it would be easier to sell a second book after her first book has gained so much popularity. Carry recommended that Collins keep a diary, which she is now doing.
‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ is published by Irish publisher Y Books and is now for sale via Amazon.com and the iBookstore, priced at €3.99. To learn more about the book, check out therealfiftyshades.com, or you can follow Katie Collins on Twitter @thereal50shades and Robert Carry @carrier11.