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24 Jan Interview with Fifty Shades Trilogy Author E.L. James

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*This interview by Jen Freligh originally appeared on Pattinson Post on October 12, 2011 here. Author E.L. James was doing a blog tour promoting the second book in the series, Fifty Shades Darker.

It’s no secret that I not only enjoy E.L. James writing, but have great respect and admiration for her as well. I was thrilled to be a part of the Fifty Shades Tribute in May when we celebrated the news that her book would be published. I was equally excited to have the opportunity to interview her and to also be able to share questions from some of our followers. You’ll see their questions with their twitter names after the question.

If you haven’t yet, read the “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Fifty Shades Darker” – I urge you to do so. The ongoing story of Christian and Anastasia’s relationship and all of its complexities will hold you spellbound until the last sentence and then, will leave you yearning for the next books release.

What follows is my interview with E.L. James where she answers our questions and some fan questions taken from Twitter.


What gave you the courage to write this story after having spent years yearning to write?

Courage? Um… I’ve never thought of it like that. After my Twilight obsession began, I wrote three novels – all unpublished – before I wrote anything Fifty. I don’t know… I just had an urge to write so I sat down and did it- really.


What’s your secret to juggling all your roles of mother, wife, employee, friend and writer?

I do no cooking… my only domestic job is the laundry! Luckily my hubs is a writer, too – he has been for a long time – and because he has always worked from home and I used to work full-time, he kind of took over the cooking. We do have a cleaner, as both of us are allergic to vacuuming and ironing. She comes on Tuesdays, so that’s the only day to visit us – the house is clean then. My friends are becoming increasingly annoyed with me as I’ve turned from a gregarious party girl into a solitary writer reluctant to leave my computer, but I do manage now and again, and I’m always grateful when I do.

Workwise, in the middle of this blog tour, we’ve been on location shooting a pilot for Channel 4 television in the UK. This means 16-17 hour days with little sleep – so it’s been a challenge. But we wrapped last Thursday at 10.00 pm and then were finished by 1.30 am so all that madness is over for now.


What is your writing routine like? Do you have any quirks or superstitions? And, how do you combat writer’s block? (@debb24601)

I am incredibly superstitious, but weirdly not when it comes to actually writing. I will sit at my desk and write a paragraph, then tweet… write another paragraph, tweet… etc, etc. I have never really had writers block (fingers crossed.) If I’m really not in the mood to write, I don’t push it, but if I have to, and I am struggling, I will always listen to music. I plug my headphones in and ramp up the volume. For some bizarre reason my get-on-and-write-it music is John Martyn’s Man at the Station… I have no idea why. ITunes tells me I have listened to that track 4531 times! I play it on repeat and it fades into the distance, but it blocks out everything around me, and creates a cocoon so I can enter my writing world.


Your story started as a fan fiction, what impact did that have on the characters you developed?

I think just their physical looks– though that was more to do with the actors in the movies than the original books, though some readers have very set ideas about how the main characters look.


How did you settle on Seattle as the location for your story?

It’s the starting location for one of my favourite novels, Love Song for a Raven by Elizabeth Lowell. It’s funny – I have been asked this question a lot on this blog tour. I have hundreds of romance novels in my attic, which were always a guilty pleasure I never talked about with anyone, yet here I am, spilling my guts all over the Internet about my obsession with romantic fiction.


Where did you get the BDSM inspiration from? Why did you write Christian as a Dom? (@Stefter)

I am fascinated by BDSM, and fascinated as to why anyone would want to be in this lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s as hot as hell, and find Doms hot as hell. I met this guy recently who is a Dom… well… ‘nuff said about that – but he was fucked-up– boy, was he fucked up – and while I was talking to him, I thought, ‘I have written about you…’ It was weird. Having said that, he was nowhere near as good-looking or successful as Christian… but still.

Anyway, I digress. On a fantasy level for me, there’s something about Doms – how they act, how in control they are, how you can surrender yourself to one and not have to think about anything except them – that is very appealing… so I kind of started from there. Also, I wanted to explore what would happen if one partner didn’t want to be part of this lifestyle, and to see where that would take me. I had come across stories where Doms and willing Submissives had signed contracts, but I wanted to explore how a person who had never encountered that world before would react to one. I was determined to write a story that involved a proper, detailed contract… and Christian as a fantasy guy kind of evolved from all that.


What is your strangest real inspiration for the story? If there is one (@RebaAdams7)

I can’t tell you, I’m sorry! It’s too rude and too personal – but it’s in Fifty Shades of Grey!

Anastasia is young and naïve, yet she is also solid in what she wants from her relationship with Christian. Was it important to you to have a strong female character to balance his character?

She evolved that way… when I started I knew that of the two of them she was by far the stronger – although at the beginning, I don’t think that’s obvious.


Did you plan the turning point for Christian or did it just happen? If you planned it, did it turn out the way you thought it would? (@slrstars)

I didn’t plan a great deal of this story. In fact, I originally had a very different ending in mind – but I was completely sidetracked by the characters, and I blew my original ending when Ana insisted on being belted by Fifty. That wasn’t supposed to happen, but I went with it, and followed the consequences – ie Ana leaving… which also surprised me, but precipitated Christian’s turnaround.


What is the most difficult part of writing this particular story? Do you have another story you are writing? (@1Lavishone)

Doing these books I’ve had to write on a great many subjects I knew little about, and I learned a great deal in the process. I have about 200 different web pages book marked for this story – everything from Gulfstream jets to BDSM how-to’s to Cartier jewelry to mutism in children. The most difficult bit was writing all the sex and making it different each time. The research for that was… um… interesting. I also found writing a psychiatrist a real challenge, as I’m not a psychiatrist. For Dr. Flynn, I talked to a child psychologist friend of mine, then read all kinds of articles about the various issues that Christian suffers from… more of which we’ll find out about in Fifty Shades Darker.

At the moment I am writing two other stories – or trying to, when I am not editing number 3. One is a YA ghost story, the other an erotic romance.


Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

Write, write, write, write, write and then write some more. Don’t listen to your inner ‘Oh-this-will-never-be-good-enough’ voice – ignore it and keep going. Start small. Take one paragraph at a time. You don’t have to start at the beginning. Keep a notebook handy at all times, and if you think of a line, or something catches your eye, write it down. I do that a lot.


More info: E.L. James' website here and Twitter at @E_L_James.

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