Fifty Shades of Grey Author Plans New Book

Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James recently spoke to delighted fans at her first public UK event and we already brought you details of what she said about the impending movie version and Twilight stars Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart. Now finally here’s a full transcript of the fascinating in-depth interview she gave.

In this first installment she talks about the astonishing success of the steamy international bestseller and what inspired her to write it. Record breaking author EL James also shares intimate details about kinky fantasy figure Christian Grey and virginal heroine Ana. She also reveals she’s working on rewriting her first attempt at and erotic novel for her next book

Fifty shades of Grey is officially the fastest selling paperback of all time. It’s now sold over 20 million copies worldwide and even outsold Harry Potter, how do you feel about that?

How do I feel about that? I’m overwhelmed. I’m completely and utterly overwhelmed by the ridiculous figures that these books seem to be creating. I’m stunned, completely stunned. At the moment I feel in a daze and just keep thinking… “Holy Sh*t!” It just boggles my mind.

Tell us a little about how you started writing the books?

Well as I think everyone knows I started writing the books as Twilight fan fiction. I had a ball writing the story and everyone said I should publish it. I spoke to a publisher and they said YES! we’ll have it please. They offered me a contract, but I took one look at it and thought… Naah! So I just carried on writing it and writing it. Then every month I had someone trying to change my mind. But a friend of mine who had also written fan fiction before pulling it off the internet and rewriting it when they found a publisher. So eventually when I found out who did his I thought sod it and went for it.

The first book maps quite closely with Twilight but after that the next two books make a huge departure, does starting with the building blocks of someone else’s universe give you more licence to be creative?

I don’t know. I’ve never sat back an analysed it really. When I started writing it, my premise was what would happen if you met someone who was in a particular lifestyle and you didn’t want to be in it. That was t. That’s what I started with. That was all that was behind it when I started. I did it for fun. It took up all of my time.

Christian is a total fantasy figure, typically brooding and mysterious. But do you think his emotional issues make him more appealing?

Christian is absolutely a fantasy figure, he’s my fantasy figure. Definitely yes, I want to shag him and fix him up! He’s a complete fantasy figure, he’s incredibly capable in and out of the bedroom and lives this amazing lifestyle. He’s ridiculously wealthy and yet he’s really really fucked up! I think because it’s written in the first person present it puts the reader in Ana’s shoes and it becomes you the reader who fixes him up.

As for Ana do you think her inexperience is an important part of the character?

Oh God I think virgins are far more interesting! If people have been round the block a few times they know what to expect. I always think virgins are very interesting. Let’s face it if you’ve done it all before you know exactly what’s going to happen if you haven’t then you don’t know anything.

How do you feel about people who criticise the character for being too innocent and naïve?

They are out there trust me. I’ve met people are in fact virgins as well. It’s a great device. For me I wanted to be physically a virgin, because he’s emotionally a virgin and together they grow. That was important to me. I think people like Ana do exist; I was a bit like that… a long time ago!

Do you feel more attached to Ana or Christian?

That’s a really hard question. At first I thought I’d be really attached to Christian but that I wouldn’t like Ana that much at all. But as I wrote more I got fond of both of them. I’m really fond of both of them because there are aspects of me in Ana and Christian as well. That’s kind of fun, just exploring.

If you were presented with Christian in real life what would you do with him?

I think we all know don’t we! I think I’m going to plead the fifth.

Was there a particular reason behind the setting for the story?

It was originally a set in that part of the world because it started out at Twilight fan fiction. I found the most expensive piece of real estate that I could find. I found this place that was still being built and nobody could go there. But now it’s built I’ve seen people have been going and taking pictures. I feel like damn it! I want to go there. I’m planning to go there in September.

Talking more about yourself, what did you do before you started writing?

Well I worked in television; I worked for 412 years in TV. Yes I’m one of the undead. I started life at the National Scholl of Film and Television where I worked and in fact met my husband. Then I started working in the independent television sector, then changed and started working at the BBC, then I went into entertainment and music all that sort of thing. I had a great job actually, it was fantastic, and I’ve worked on lots and lots of music shows. Then I was also working part time for a company owned by Vic and Bob, so I was literally working for a bunch of comedians. They were lovely and really nice people so I had just a great time there.

Have Vic and Bob read Fifty Shades of Grey?

Oh shit I hope not! It’s interesting because the last thing I did there was shooting a pilot for the Angelos Epithemiou show in Salford. They’ve got their main facilities up there and it’s beautiful but it doesn’t quite work. We shot a pilot there and it got commissioned for Channel 4 and that was during all this madness. But they’re just really happy for me and really delighted which was so sweet.

Are you writing at the moment?

I’m trying to re-write the first book I ever wrote. As everyone knows I was inspired by Twilight; I saw the film and read the book Christmas 2008. I read them over and over again. Then I wrote a novel then wrote another. Then I discovered fan fiction. I wrote one fan fiction then I started the story that actually became fifty shades. So I’m going back to the first book and I’m trying to re-write that.

Can we ask what it’s about?

No, but it will be sort of erotic as well and a love story. I think that’s what Fifty is really about it’s a love story. It does have a lot of sex, but from what I remember when you fall in love you have a lot of sex.

How do you feel about the fact there’s now Fifty Shades of Grey fan fiction?

The biggest fan fiction is for Harry Potter, there’s something like 500,000 series! So it’s a huge community. Its fantastic there’s now Fifty Shades of Grey fan fiction. I think there have been two extraordinary things about this journey. One is bringing women together in groups to discuss the books A place where they can talk and gossip and have fun. That’s bane amazing and also the fact that there are people who haven’t read books for years who are now reading the series. I’ve had someone tell me they hadn’t read a book for 28 years but they read all of mine in three weeks.  That is extraordinary and I think the sales figures show that people who don’t really buy books are buying this book.

Do you think its encouraged reading and reached out in a similar fashion to the Harry Potter series?

Well I hope it’s a different demographic!


Fifty Shades Author talks Men’s Reactions

In this second part of our scintillating interview transcript for Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James , she talks about the pleasurable research she did while writing the international  erotic bestseller. She also talks about how men have responded to the book and the impact it has had on her family life and the sex lives of countless readers.

What feedback have you had from men about the books?

You have no idea how embarrassing it is to discuss my fantasies in a room full of male Hollywood executives. I can’t even tell you how cringe worthy that is. When I published this I did it to protect it in a certain way. It had been out there on the internet for a while and I felt like someone was going to steal it eventually. I never expected it to be this successful and I never expected men to read it either at all. In fact I get very embarrassed that men have read it. In fact I know there’s a guy in a hat here right now, what’s the guy in the hat doing here! (That would be our very own Russ)Weirdly more and more men are reading it now as their being forced by their wives or girlfriends. I’ve started getting emails from them. Their partners are apparently saying just read this now!! and sometimes… do some of this stuff!!!

Have you had any particularly memorable responses from men?

One example is that quite early on I got an email from a 26 year old guy I the US military that did make a point to tell me that he was not gay, but when on to say that he just really enjoyed the story. He was really captivated by it and he brought the book on deployment with him and wanted to tell me that. I also got a letter from a 71 year old man who said thank you very much for writing this book; it’s reminded me what it’s like to fall in love again. So there’s that side as well.

How close do you have to get to write about such intimate subject matter?

Very close! Lovely and close. I’ve always thought I’d be very worried if social services ever got hold of my computer. I’m sure my children would get taken away. I did a lot of research not only in words but also in pictures.

How much input did you have from editors in turning the stories into finished books?

There was a twofold editing process because the books were edited someone and unfortunately the first person who worked on them didn’t know what they were doing. But I didn’t know that at the time. But we’ll draw a veil over that. My second editor was lovely. The problem with writing something serially which is how the story was originally written, is that when you put it all together there are lots of issues like repetition that you can get away with more when you’re doing it a week at a time. It’s more obvious when you put it all together. When Random House got hold of it they did a very quick copy edit. I did more to it than they did really I was pretty surprised. But I had to edit Darker and Freed while I was having all these meetings as well. I wish we’d had a little bit longer to do it. But the demand for these books was feverish in the states so there was pressure to get them out there quickly. It is what it is. I think I learnt a lot going through that process. I just need a bit of time and someone to be stricter with me. Which you like now and again in life really.

The story is how I wanted it to be told. Nothing has been changed in terms of the storyline or the plot. I didn’t have anyone telling me to change tenses in the narration or tweak the plot. That was quite liberating and interesting doing it that way.

How do you feel about critics who unfavourably compare Fifty Shades to classic erotic literature?

I would say there’s a huge difference between Fifty Shade of Grey and the Marquis de Sade or The Story of O. Those are not love stories. I’ve written a love story. What the media, publisher or booksellers choose to dub the books is down to them. This is a love story; it’s a very old story. Its beauty and the beast and Cinderella all rolled into one. In terms of the erotic tradition in Europe the work of Marquis De Sade are not stories women particularly want to read.  Maybe in Europe, maybe they do.  But my book is number one in Italy, Germany and Spain so it’s not doing too badly.

What were the best bits of researching the book and is there anything you’d recommend?

Well if you’ve read Fifty Shades Freed there’s a bit in that I’d really recommend. The best bits weren’t just about the sex. It was everything. I’d never been to Seattle or Portland but Google Street view is amazing you can find anything on there. So I love doing that it was fantastic. I’m a History lover, I studied History at University and all of that kind for research stuff that you do as an Undergrad really comes into play. It’s extraordinary now because it’s all at the touch of a button; anything you want to know in five seconds you can find it out on a computer. You can find some really kinky f*ckery as well! It’s great and very educational. When I’m reading stuff I say Oh Look at that and my husband thinks, Oh no what are we doing now. He gets this wild and worried look in his eye.

What’s your fondest memory from doing your research?

I’ll tell you one story which is pretty funny it’s about the Audi car used in the books. I wanted to write a sex scene in an Audi car and I found out there was a dealership near to where I live. So I called up and I said to this sales guy can you have sex in that Audi car?  I did explain that I was writing an erotic novel. I did introduce myself first. He said “No absolutely not, there’s just no way it’s possible”. So I though… sh*t!. I had a chat to him and thought I should check it out for myself.

So I went down to the garage and as they open the door there’s this beautiful big Audi sitting right there. So I went and looked around it. Then I popped up to the main reception and said can you st in the cars? They said of course. So I went and sat in this wonderful £24,000 car. I just sat there and though you could totally have sex in one of these. It might be a tight squeeze but yeah! Sp yes that’s real research for you!

Speaking about the sexual side of the story, do you think it’s made it more socially acceptable for people, especially women to openly discuss sexual desires and issues?

I didn’t have that in mind at all, but it does seem to have done that. It goes back to what I said about women getting together and talking about the book. I think the interesting thing is how word of mouth works. You get the book and you want all your friends at work to read it, you want to be able to discuss it. You have to discuss the sex and say My God this is disgusting or Wow can I do that! I think the thing is there’s a lot of erotic literature out there that isn’t at the savage end of fiction. There are a lot of books like this one. The books I read were all romantic books with an erotic side to them, albeit maybe not quite so explicit. But then these books are not really all that explicit for someone who’s used to reading erotica. I don’t use particularly graphic words, because I’m a bit of a prude funnily enough. I don’t think a lot of women like to hear that kind of language. That’s another reason why these books are more accessible I think.

How do you feel about being credited with improving people’s love lives?

I’m delighted but I think the only problem is that I suspect a lot of women are now pregnant because of it. It’s like Holy sh*t what have I done… that is quite scary. There might be a lot of babies born in 2014 all called Ana or Christian.

Do you think Ana’s innocence is part of what has allowed a mass market audience to see this as a comfortable introduction to BDSM?

I wrote the book for myself, it was random House that brought the book to the mass market. They were written for free. If anyone does set out to write a book just to reach a mass market audience I don’t think they’ll get very far. You need to write about something about your passion and what you like. It’s about what you want to do; I don’t think you need to think too hard about the end user. You are the end user; you are your reader so write it for yourself!

Have do your children feel about your success with the books?

My kids are hilarious they’re kind of completely bemused by all of this as well. They are incredibly proud of me. They know that I’m not around a lot at the moment and it’s great because my husband is also a writer and he’s always worked from home. So he’s always done the shopping and cooking. I do laundry that’s what I do. It’s been fine with him. My kids are great, embarrassed and proud. They’re not that interested in the actual book which is completely appropriate for a 15 year old and 17 year old kid. So it’s not actually that involve in their world. The supreme irony is that despite the fact both their parents are writers neither of my children read. It’s a badge of honour and a source of huge frustration for me and my husband. But they’re teenage boys and they just refuse opt read. In fact my husband wrote a book for teenage boys in the hope that maybe they’ll read that one.

Has it ever been awkward for you with them because of the books?

They’ve not expressed any desire at all to read my books. They know it’s very salacious. I was once writing it on my laptop and my youngest son came up behind me. I was pretty used to shouting at him to get away but apparently that time he managed to pick up the words nipple chumps! Because he misread nipple clamps. I just thought oh god! But perhaps most interestingly they’ve actually brought books home for me to sign that other people have bought to give to teachers at the end of term! That’s kind of doing my head in a bit.  I wrote a nice inscription in Latin for the Latin teacher though. I hope he marks it well! But my kids have been great, they’ve been really supportive and their not teased at school or anything like that They’re fine.