‘50 Shades of Grey’ author E.L. James at Comic-Con


One woman credited “50 Shades of Grey” with her third pregnancy. A husband high-fived author E.L. James after she signed his wife’s e-reader, saying, “My love life is awesome. Thank you!”

James is a former British television producer whose erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey” has become the hottest book to read since “Twilight.” Wait, make that hotter. It and its two sequels -- “50 Shades Darker” and “50 Shades Freed” -- have sold more than 20 million copies.

Although James is no superhero, more than 200 devoted fans lined up for her book-signing at Comic-Con last week. Nicole Sperling, who was there, reports that James is still processing the books’ explosive popularity. James told her, “My only ambition was to see the book in a bookshop. That was it.”


James continued, “This is hugely surreal, and I’ve had no time to digest it.... The first book came out on the first of April [in the U.S.]. The next two came out two weeks later. The U.K. followed the week after that. That was April. This is July. We’ve done a film deal. Gone into 42 languages. So yeah, no, I haven’t had time to process this.”

The book, which began as post-Twilight fan fiction, is about a virginal 22-year-old college literature student, Anastasia. She falls for Christian Grey, a 28-year-old billionaire, who gets a sexual charge out of being in charge. It’s explicitly tie-me-up, tie-me-down; sometimes a necktie is not just for tying around necks.

In addition to the titillating sexual content, James credits the luxury and fantasy elements of “50 Shades of Grey” with helping to boost its appeal. “The whole book is a fantasy: fantasy lifestyle, fantasy man,” she said. “He’s ridiculously accomplished, ridiculously wealthy, ridiculously good in bed and it’s a fantasy. You either buy into it or you don’t. And that’s it.”