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'Fifty Shades of Grey' Author and Twihard E. L. James Talks Smoking and Spicy Sex with EW

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood March 29, 2012 at 3:46PM

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.
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EW Fifty Shades
EW

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.”
 

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.