1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ author: ‘Midlife crisis’ led to steamy novel

By
TODAY contributor
updated 4/17/2012 8:57:38 AM ET 2012-04-17T12:57:38

British writer E.L. James, author of the erotic romance trilogy beginning with the bestselling "Fifty Shades of Grey," can’t believe the impact of her work, or the influence her books have had on the fantasies of women around the world.

  1. Stories from
    1. Tweet & Eat! Here's What Your Favorite Stars are Eating & Drinking Right Now
    2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Teaser Trailer Has Arrived
    3. Sandra Bullock Celebrates 50th Birthday in Wyoming
    4. Freak Lightning Strike on Venice Beach Kills One, Injures Others (VIDEO)
    5. See the New Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer, Plus the Top 5 Comic-Con Fan Picks

The suburban mother of two, who wrote the books as "Twilight" fan fiction, said she’s “stunned” at the success of the story. “I was amazed how popular it was. I’m still amazed,” she told TODAY's Michelle Kosinski Tuesday.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’: Peek inside the steamy novel

The books, which have been passed around by women like contraband, follow the relationship between the young student Anastasia Steele and the “very attractive” Christian Grey, who has “unruly dark-copper-colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes.” Soon after first meeting, the couple embarks on a passionate affair as Steele “learns more about her own dark desires” in Grey’s “red room of pain.”

A film adaptation of the series is in the works. But despite all the attention, James says there isn’t anything revolutionary about her books.

  1. More in books
    1. Harlan Coben returns with ‘Six Years’
    2. ‘I Would Die 4 U’: How Prince became an icon
    3. ‘Until I Say Good-Bye’: Living for love in the face of ALS
    4. Letters from the life of George H.W. Bush
    5. Mom turns sleeping baby into fairy-tale star

Triple-X trilogy of novels has women talking (quietly)

"This is my midlife crisis, writ large," she said. "All my fantasies in there, and that's it."

While the couple in the "Fifty Shades" books are haunted by outside forces much like their predecessors Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, there aren’t any vampires or werewolves in the story. Protagonist Christian Grey, a wildly successful billionaire, is described as a man “tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control,” while Steele is his perfect match with her pure, “quiet beauty” and “independent spirit.”

Author lands deal for 'Fifty Shades of Grey' parody

James thinks of the books as “kind of raw,” and says she doesn’t think she’s a great writer or a very disciplined one.

Still, Grey, whose silver ties (used as tools of bondage in the book) have become a bit of a cultural phenomenon, is described in the novel as “the richest, most elusive, most enigmatic bachelor in Washington state.” Is that what women really want?

“Once you're in charge of your job, your house, your children, getting the food on the table, doing all of this, all of the time, it'd be nice for someone else to be in charge for a bit maybe," said James.

But in real life, it's different.

“You want someone who does the dishes.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

Breaking news
  1. Israel strike lands within yards of Gaza's Shifa Hospital

    The attack caused some damage to the outpatient clinic, according to witnesses including an NBC News crew on the ground in the area.

    7/28/2014 2:40:10 PM +00:00 2014-07-28T14:40:10
  1. TODAY

    video Whoopi on ‘View’ shakeup: ‘I don’t know what’s going on’

    7/28/2014 12:49:50 PM +00:00 2014-07-28T12:49:50
  1. Take our survey: How old do you really feel?

    We're always hearing that 60 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 20... is it really true that age is just a number?

    7/25/2014 8:00:04 PM +00:00 2014-07-25T20:00:04
  1. The 10 tips you need to know to land that first job

    The transition from college to a career is a challenging period in any young person's life — so it helps to be prepared for it.

    7/28/2014 12:19:27 PM +00:00 2014-07-28T12:19:27