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Fifty Shades of Grey Author E.L. James: Book “Is My Midlife Crisis”

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E.L. James Handout

E.L. James didn’t exactly have big plans when she sat down to pen her steamy bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey.

In fact, in an interview on the Today show Tuesday morning, the unassuming British author says she can’t believe the massive response her novel has received.

“This is my midlife crisis, writ large,” James explained, laughing. “All my fantasies, out there.”

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Though the book–which details a dominant-submissive relationship between a college student and a mysterious billionaire–sold more than 2 million copies this month alone, James says she doesn’t really understand what all the fuss is about. When asked if there is anything “revolutionary” about her prose, the author just laughed. “Definitely not,” she chuckled. “I’m stunned by its popularity.”

Some critics have denounced the book as anti-feminist, an endorsement of a potentially problematic power dynamic. James was quick to brush those concerns aside, saying she trusts her readers to be able to separate fantasy from reality.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James Random House

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“I think in [women’s] fantasies, yes, [they want someone like Grey],” James told host Michelle Kosinski. “But I think in real life, it’s very, very different. You want someone who does the dishes.”

As for her writing process, James said she “was obsessed” with finishing her book once she began, admitting, “I didn’t do anything else for two years.”

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The Brit says she wrote everywhere–in waiting rooms, on public transit, typing on her cell phone.

Her only real writing requirement once she sat down at home to work on her racy tome? Joked the author, “A couple of glasses of wine!”

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