In 2011, the literary world was rocked by the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey, an erotic romance that tells the story of timid editor Anastasia Steele and business magnate Christian Grey as they enter a Dom/sub agreement. Who would have known that the book had been penned by a suburban London mom?
Erika Mitchell, a.k.a. EL James, is an ex–TV executive and now world-famous novelist. She wasn’t known as the queen of S&M fiction for most of her life—nor did she intend her life to turn down that path. She married her current husband, Niall, in 1987 and had two children. While her characters are known to spend time in the infamous “red room of pain,” James spends most of her time with her family, as a mother would.
The story of how Fifty Shades of Grey came to be may seem brilliant to some, but to those who are well-versed in the world of fanfiction, its conception is nothing short of inevitable. James confessed that Fifty Shades was originally fanfiction to the popular vampire romance Twilight series. She intended to write stories that were meant to succeed the novels in the series and wrote the first two from January to August 2009. She then published these as Kindle books. Following that, James got to work on what is now the Fifty Shades trilogy.
To say that the books were a hit would be an understatement. To date, Fifty Shades of Grey has outsold many classic titles, such as books from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and has become the fastest-selling paperback of all time. The book has been translated into forty languages and has proven to increase people’s interest in the practice of BDSM (an overlapping abbreviation of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism). Moreover, the series has been turned into a film trilogy. The first film was released in 2014, starring Dakota Johnson as Steele and Jamie Dornan as Grey. The next film is slated for release in 2017.
The erotica trilogy skyrocketed James to both fame and infamy. Despite being known worldwide as a mistress of sexy fiction, James prefers to not let it all get to her head. She still lives in the same London apartment and does pretty normal things as a wife and mother.
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