EW’s next issue goes deep into E. L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which Universal’s Focus Features recently won after a bidding war. Here are the details on how what started as “Twilight” fan fiction become a novel trilogy and a hot Hollywood property. Highlights of James’ interview with EW are below.
Publicity-shy James admits that the attention is “a bit of a struggle.” The overweight smoker (“all the interesting people smoke”) is a voracious consumer of erotic romances, owning more than 800 (“I used to read them on the tube, bending the covers right back. Ooh, I love them. Good times!”). The inspiration for the “Grey” series came from “Twilight”‘s Bella and Edward, and morphed into women’s erotica as she paired an innocent 21-year old and a mogul with a past (and a predilection for S&M).
But James’ transition from TV exec to novelist took a while: “When I was working in London, I used to have to commute.” She always wanted to write, and “Twilight” was her gateway into actually doing it. “I’m a huge Twihard. And I sat down and [started writing]. No other books have ever inspired me. [Stephanie Meyer] just flipped a switch.”
James doesn’t classify “Grey” as erotica: “It’s a romantic fantasy story. That’s it. It’s just a fun read. I don’t see it as erotica. I see it as a contemporary romance. Yes, it’s quite graphic, but when people fall in love they have sex. Well, actually, they have a lot of sex. In the beginning. So that’s what this is about. It’s for ordinary women who like some spicy sex.”