Erika Mitchell, better known as E. L. James (born 7 March 1963), is a British author best known for writing Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels, a series of erotic romance novels heavily featuring BDSM.note She started out as a fanfiction writer, and Fifty Shades itself was a Twilight fanfiction before James made enough changes to publish it as an original work. She also served as a producer on the film adaptations of the main trilogy. Given the focus on Edward and Bella's romance and Jacob being Demoted to Extra in her fanfic, it's pretty safe to assume she's Team Edward.
Works with their own pages:<!—index—>
- Fifty Shades of Grey series (2011 - 2021)
- The Mister (2019)
Her other works include:
- Master of the Universe (2009 - 2011) - The smutty, alternate universe mundane fic of Twilight that was later developed into the Fifty Shades series.
Tropes associated with the author and her other works include:
- Adaptation Title Change: When Master of the Universe was edited into an original work and formally published, the name changed to Fifty Shades of Grey, in reference to the title character (now named Christian Grey) and his complexities (or "shades of grey")
- Alternate Universe Fic / Adaptational Mundanity: Master of the Universe broadly retells the story of Twilight, only there are no vampires and werewolves, and instead of a high school student Bella is an unworldly college graduate, while Edward is a billionaire with an interest in BDSM rather than a Vegetarian Vampire who looks seventeen. The primary source of drama in the romance is not the fact that Edward might accidentally kill Bella because her blood is so appealing (as well as his reluctance to make her into a vampire too), but that Edward has never had a proper relationship with any of his submissives and Bella is uncertain about BDSM. In short, sexual incompatibility rather than potential accidental murder.
- Author Appeal: Based on the content of both Fifty Shades and The Mister, James seems to have a thing for rich, domineering bad boys falling for naive, socially awkward and sexually inexperienced young women.
- Creator Backlash: She stated in a 2019 interview that she had "a miserable time" making the Fifty Shades of Grey movie (possibly because of the constant disagreements with the director) and that she found writing Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian to be "cathartic" at that time.
- Doorstopper: Master of the Universe in its entirety equals over 800 pages. When it was turned into the Fifty Shades trilogy, it was split into three separate books: the first two are over 500 pages, while the third is over 600, though it's still more manageable than a single 800+ page novel. Her first non-Fifty Shades novel, The Mister, is also over 600 pages.
- Genre Shift: Twilight is a Paranormal Romance series primarily aimed at teens; Master of the Universe is an erotic romance that is definitely not appropriate for kids.
- Hostility on the Set: She and Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of the first Fifty Shades movie, had many disagreements over the direction of the movie and potential changes, even getting into a full-blown argument on set. Both had differing visions for the film: Taylor-Johnson wanted to make a more Pragmatic Adaptation addressing some of the criticisms of the books, while James wanted a completely faithful adaptation. It was bad enough that Taylor-Johnson refused to direct the sequels; James apparently got along better with the subsequent director, James Foley, whose vision of the films more closely matched her own.
- Hypothetical Casting: She pictured Christian Grey as looking something like Robert Pattinson (who played Edward Cullen in the Twilight films) and it was said he was even her original choice for the role in The Film of the Book, though she later stated it would've been "weird" if he was cast (the role eventually went to Jamie Dornan).
- One-Steve Limit: A slight aversion; both Maxim and Christian share the surname of Trevelyan, although it's downplayed as Christian has a double-barrelled surname and tends to just go by Grey rather than Trevelyan-Grey. It's also justified given that James has implied there's a connection between the characters, though she's yet to elaborate on what this connection is exactly.
- Pen Name: Her real name is Erika Mitchell; E.L James is just the name she uses for publishing her books. She also published the fanfiction that became Fifty Shades under the username Snowqueens Icedragon.
- Self-Plagiarism: Aside from changing the characters' names and a few other details, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed are nearly word-for-word identical to her earlier fanfic Master of the Universe.
- Shared Universe: James has stated that Christian and Maxim sharing the surname of Trevelyan is meaningful, implying that the Fifty Shades series and The Mister take place in the same universe.
- Uptown Girl: Gender-flipped; both Fifty Shades and The Mister feature a working class woman being in a relationship with a vastly more wealthy man. In the case of The Mister, Maxim is an earl as well, with Alessia (an undocumented immigrant) actually being briefly scared off when she learns about his title.