E.L. James is the pen name of Erika Leonard, the author of the best-selling book 50 Shades of Grey. Leonard, a television production executive in London, originally wrote the story as fan fiction based on the Stephenie MeyerTwilight series. Writing under the online name of Snowqueen Icedragon, Leonard self-published "Master of the Universe" online in 2009. That story was turned into the novel 50 Shades of Grey, which was published through a small firm in Australia, The Writer's Coffee Shop. Her novel was published in May of 2011 and became a surprise bestseller. It was followed in less than a year by two sequels, 50 Shades Darker and 50 Shades Freed. The books revolve around the dominant/submissive relationship of Christian Grey, a wealthy entrepreneur, and Anastasia Steele, a young college student with a literary bent and a lively curiosity. The trilogy struck a chord, both with the middle-aged women who became its biggest fans and with a hyperactive press who feigned surprise at the popularity of a book whose main selling point was sex and more sex. Critics derided the books as "mommy porn," but the trilogy was picked up by American publishers Vintage Books and Leonard also scored a lucrative movie deal with Focus Films and Universal Studios. Her publishers announced in May of 2012 that they had sold over 10 million copies of the '50 Shades' trilogy worldwide.
A Fifty Shades of Grey movie was released in 2015, with actress Dakota Johnson in the role of Anastasia Steele and Jamie Doran as Christian Grey.