Fifty Shades author EL James says she originally wanted to sell 5,000 books when she wrote the erotic novel that sold more than 125 million copies — and doesn’t rule out revisiting the series
- EL James, 58, recently released the latest in the Fifty Shades franchise
- The original erotic trilogy has sold 150 million copies worldwide after the first book in 2011
- The latest book follows Christian Gray and Anastasia Steele from the original trilogy
- Bestselling author says her dream was to see her first novel ‘in a bookstore’
Fifty Shades of Gray author EL James said she originally planned to sell just 5,000 copies of the best-selling erotic novel.
Her latest novel in the Freed series was published this week and is the latest in the wildly successful Fifty Shades franchise – featuring the original trilogy that has sold 150 million copies worldwide.
The novel is the latest in the Freed series, which retells the story of Christian Gray and Anastasia Steele from the male lead’s point of view, and fans “chased her” to write the novel.
Appearing in Lorraine today from her London home, the author said she had not dreamed “in a billion years” that her novel would be so popular and that her success “destroyed” any hopes she had.
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Fifty Shades of Gray author EL James said she originally wanted to sell only 5,000 copies of the best-selling erotic novel during a performance at Lorraine
Her latest novel in the Freed series was published earlier this month and is the latest in the wildly successful Fifty Shades franchise. She is pictured in 2018
“My only ambition for all of this was to sell 5,000 copies and maybe one day see the books in a bookstore,” James said. ‘My dreams are completely shattered’ [expectations]. It was extraordinary and this journey was such a wild ride and here I am with my last book.’
She later added, “I never thought it wouldn’t have such an impact in a million years.”
James says she enjoyed getting into Christian’s psyche, and that writing a novel provided a much-needed escape during the lockdown.
“I think part of the joy for me in writing it is that he’s a totally complicated character, and it was quite a challenge to match what he says with what he thinks of 50 Shades Freed. But it seems to be going well, so I’m really happy with the responses I’ve had so far.
The story has been made into a film series starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. The couple is pictured in the 2015 film
She said of her fans, “They were actually chasing me to write the book. We had three books from her point of view and only two [from his].
“So during my lockdown this is what I did, I escaped to Seattle with these two characters who weren’t social distancing out there and wearing masks – well, wearing a different kind of mask, but we won’t get into that!”
In the final chapter of the trilogy, the two protagonists eventually get married, and the author admitted that while she was reluctant to explore the storyline, it made her “very emotional.”
“Personally, I find weddings incredibly boring,” she said. So in 50 Shades Freed, I wrote it in flashbacks and people said, “I want the wedding,” so I wrote the wedding.
“I actually felt really emotional when I did it, which really surprised me, and there’s a few little surprises in there for the readers. It was fun and I’m glad I got to choose a menu and do all the things you do for a wedding.”
The final chapter of the trilogy sees the two protagonists eventually getting married, and the author admitted that while she was reluctant to explore the storyline, it made her “very emotional.”
While it may be her last novel in the series, James doesn’t think she’ll “ever say goodbye” to the characters she’s created.
“I think we’ll leave them in a really good place,” she said. “They’ve had such a tiring time. I threw the sink at this couple, so I’d like to leave them in this place for a long time, but never say never.’
The story has been adapted into a film series starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, and the mother-of-two recalled a moment at the film’s 2015 premiere where her son “cracked her into tears.”
‘They are not particularly interested’ [in the series] what is appropriate. But they’ve been incredibly supportive,” she said.
“At the after party of the film premiere in London, my eldest son, we were in a fancy bar, and everyone was there after the film’s release and he grabbed me and said, ‘Look at all these people, they’re all here because I’m so proud of you.’