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Getting to Know E.L. James

Erika Leonard


Practicing under the pen name EL James, Erica Leonard traces her roots to London, England, where she was born in 1963. Her mother was Chilean and her father worked for the BBC as a cameraman. The family lived in Buckinghamshire, South East England.
Erica attended university of Kent, where she studied history. However, after her graduation, she followed her passion in communications and settled for a career in media. She became an assistant studio manager at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. In 1987, she married Niall Leonard, a director and screenwriter, and together they have two sons.

Her popular works of fiction, the Fifty Shades Trilogy, were inspired by the Twilight Fiction Series, which led to the production of the original bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey. The first copy of the book became available as an e-book in 2011. The combination of all three novels has sold over thirty-five million copies in America and over seventy million copies globally.

Ever since she began actively writing in 2009, the 50 Shades of Grey PDF author has inspired people all over the world, earning her awards from film and print publications. In 2012, Time Magazine recognized her as one of the hundred most influential people in the world. In the same year, Publishers Weekly recognized her for the position of Publishing Person of the Year. Her book, Fifty Shades of Grey, won the prestigious award of Popular Fiction Book of the Year, organized by the National Book Award of UK, in 2012. In 2013, Erica was in Forbes’ list of highest earning authors, with total earnings amounting to $95 million.

In 2012, Vintage rolled out the first print edition of the book, and by the end of summer that same year, it had sold more copies than the previous record holder. Erica herself acknowledges that she was shocked by the tremendous success of the publication. Not only did the books break records in the United Kingdom, but in America as well, where it topped bestseller charts for more than 20 weeks. Film organizations such as Universal Pictures and Focus Features have secured movie rights to the book.

In addition to writing, EL James supports charity work, as she is one of the celebrities in the UK who design their own cards for a UK-based charity organization. In her West London home where she resides with her husband and two teenage sons, she plans to write another book to add to her growing list.