The Twilight Fan-Fiction That Became a Worldwide Sensation

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Now and then, a publishing phenomenon would arrive and capture the imagination – and wallets – of millions of readers worldwide. The Harry Potter series indeed comes to mind. As well as the Twilight novels, to some extent. But no one expected that an erotic romance novel like Fifty Shades of Grey (and its subsequent sequels) would achieve similar success.

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy started out as author E.L. James’ tribute to the aforementioned Twilight series. Using the characters Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, James’ online fan fiction pushed the envelope by incorporating explicit sexual scenes between the leads. When Twilight fans expressed their disapproval, the budding author eventually reworked the story. She made significant changes to her characters and renamed them Anastasia Steele, a virginal college student, and Christian Grey, a wealthy businessman. A romantic relationship between these characters is explored just like in any romance novel – except that this one involves lots of original elements that include bondage, dominance, and submission, as well as sadomasochism.

Free download of Fifty Shades of Grey

The reworked piece was divided into three parts. In May 2011, James launched the first installment entitled 50 Shades of Grey as an e-book and as a paperback through print on demand. The second part, Fifty Shades Darker, followed in September 2011 while the third, Fifty Shades Freed came out in January 2012. Australian virtual publishing firm The Writers’ Coffee Shop was responsible for the initial release of the three books. Due to the limited marketing budget, the author had to rely on book blog reviews to gain publicity. Massive word-of-mouth recommendations soon followed, providing the necessary boost to achieve high sales and catch the attention of major publishers and eventually, Hollywood.

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy gained widespread success in spite (or more like because of) of the controversial sexual themes that E.L James explored in its pages. The demand was so high that, upon acquiring publishing license for the trilogy, Vintage Books released new and revised editions in April 2012. As an additional testament to the books’ popularity, a bidding war for the film rights was sparked among significant film studios. Univeral Pictures and Focus Features eventually emerged as the winners in securing the rights to turn the trilogy into a film franchise.

In December 2012, Fifty Shades of Grey was named “Popular Fiction” as well as the “Book of the Year” by the UK National Book Awards. Publishers Weekly also awarded the “Publishing Person of the Year” to E.L. James. However, these citations didn’t come without much criticism. Although the trilogy was able to gain countless fans (especially among married women over thirty), critics are dismissive of the author’s work. Generally describing the books as guilty fun and pure escapism, many critics cited the author’s use of awful descriptions, clunky prose, and limited vocabulary to be her glaring weaknesses. It also didn’t help that the book was peppered with British idioms, which contrasted with the characters’ American voice.

But still, no one can deny the impact that Fifty Shades of Grey has created in the publishing industry. From being a poster child of viral marketing to revive people’s interest in erotic literature, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has certainly left an indelible mark comparable to the Harry Potter novels and, ironically, the Twilight series. To experience the novel for yourself, head on over to and get your free digital audio copy.

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

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Given the popularity and success of the Fifty Shades trilogy, everyone is betting that it’s only a matter of time before a movie adaptation goes into production. Professional interest in a Fifty Shades of Grey movie is high. In fact, significant studios such as Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Paramount, and Universal Pictures have all bid to snag the film rights.

Universal Pictures and Focus Features ultimately won the rights to turn the trilogy into a film franchise, reportedly spending 5 million dollars to get author E.L.James’ blessing. Granting James’ request to have the script and casting control may have also worked in the studios’ favor. British screenwriter Kelly Marcel (TV’s Terra Nova) was eventually tapped to write the screenplay.

The extraordinary novel Fifty Shades of Grey follows the steamy romance that blossomed between a college student named Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. These lead parts are now among the most sought-after roles in Hollywood. Actresses who have been rumored to be in the running to play Anastasia include Mila Kunis, Kristen Stewart, Kate Beckinsale, Anna Kendrick, and Alexis Bledel. Emma Watson was also said to be interested, but she has since shut down the rumors.

Get the Fifty Shades Freed Audiobook for freeAs for the part of the troubled young entrepreneur Christian, television stars Matt Bomer and Ian Somerhalder are the top favorites of the trilogy’s followers. Somerhalder’s sophisticated appeal and his role as the hot, bad boy vampire Damon in the series Vampire Diaries have convinced many fans that he has what it takes to play Christian Grey. The actor won’t confirm anything about his involvement, but reports said that he finds the story interesting. Physically, Matt Bomer is also the good fit for the part. The fact that the producers are not going for a big star associated with any particular film or television properties might be a good thing for Bomer if ever he auditions.

Speaking of auditions, one actor who has confirmed that he was approached for the role was Stephen Amell, star of CW’s Arrow. However, he recently revealed on his Facebook account that he is not interested in the part anymore. No reason was given regarding his decision.

Back in June 2012, Angelina Jolie was said to be interested in directing the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. But Universal executives have come forward and denied the rumors. At one point, the name of Pride & Prejudice helmer Joe Wright emerged as a top contender for the director’s spot. It turned out to be just another rumor as well.

So far, the time that the project came “closest” to having someone in the director’s chair was when Gus Van Sant shot a screen test for the producers in April 2013. The Good Will Hunting director reportedly shot a steamy sex scene in a bid to get the directorial job. Van Sant’s scene featured Alex Pettyfer of Magic Mike as Christian Grey, but there are no reports on who played Anastasia. Pettyfer’s involvement doesn’t mean that he’s a shoe-in for the part, though. As of the moment, no director and cast members have been attached yet.