Born Erika Mitchell on March 7, 1963, British author E. L. James was raised in Buckinghamshire by her Chilean mother and Scottish father. She received a history degree from the University of Kent and went on to work as a studio manager assistant at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. James married screenwriter/director Niall Leonard (whose name she took), and they currently reside in west London with their two sons. Her most notable work is the erotic romance series Fifty Shades Of Grey.
On her website, James wrote: “From an early age, I had dreamt of writing stories that readers would fall in love with.” Her passion for writing blossomed at an early age, and she was first introduced to fanfiction in 2009. Her initial pen name was "Snowqueens Icedragon," under which she wrote a Twilight Saga fanfiction called Masters of the Universe. This fanfiction was the inspiration for the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, with many of the characters from the fanfiction undergoing slight adjustments before making it into Fifty Shades.
The trilogy consists of Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. The first book was published in 2011 and instantly attracted a huge following. The story focuses on the sexual relationship between college student Anastasia Steele and mysterious entrepreneur Christian Grey and is best known for its BDSM depictions and explicit love scenes. Critical reviews are mixed, with some critics saying the series is the perfect example of bad writing. According to The New York Times, the trilogy is “dull and poorly written.” James argues that the popularity of the series is not due to the sex: “It’s the love story. Women like to read a passionate love story.”
According to The Guardian, the trilogy is "the fastest selling adult novel of all time.” The second and third installments were published in 2012. Over 90 million copies were sold worldwide and the series has been translated into 52 languages. A film adaptation starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan is set for release on February 13, 2015. As for her next book, James suggests that it could be a sequel from Christian Grey’s point of view.