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Author of “Fifty Shades”: “Feminists can also have fantasies”

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The British author of the publishing phenomenon “Fifty Shades”, EL James, defends her plots full of sex and power relations, affirming to EFE that “feminists can also have fantasies” on the occasion of his latest novel, “The Countess.”

Erika Leonard Mitchell (her real name) confessed a few years ago that she had projected her own fantasies of a mature woman in the successful erotic trilogy started in 2011 that swept the lists of most read books.

Then the excessive interest aroused by the atypical relationship between an inexperienced university student and a tormented billionaire obsessed with sadomasochism generated an editorial whirlwind – later made into a movie – that caught her off guard.

The London author has not fully digested that overwhelming success yet, but she is aware that it changed her life: “Now I have three houses, and I didn’t have them before “Fifty Shades”, she says in an interview with EFE in London.

Later he published “Mister” (2019) and on June 27 he premiered in Spain -via Penguin Random House- his second part, “La Condesa”, also edited in Catalan by Rosa dels Vents, part of the same publishing house.

I had the story in my head since 2009 and these characters would not leave me alone, so I wanted to take them out and I did it with “Mister” in 2019, but afterwards people kept asking me what was going to happen (…) I think it’s the most romantic story I’ve written so far,” he says.

There James continues the romance between the character of British high society Maxim Trevelyan, Earl of Trevethick, and his former assistant, the Albanian Alessia Demachi, a young woman who, after escaping from the trafficking gangs, ends up in London as a countess.

The author also returns to what is already a constant element in her literature, the love-sexual relationship between a wealthy and influential man and a vulnerable young woman. Attractive characters – “because we all like beautiful people”as he observes- and plots seasoned with a lot of sex.

The writer openly admits that she “likes to explore the dynamic of someone who is exceptionally powerful with someone who isn’t.”

“I find it fascinating and it’s something that attracts me. Getting these two people to meet seems interesting to me, ”she explains.

In fact, his latest book, “The Countess”, arose “from the simple idea of what would happen if a man fell in love with his cleaner (…). From there -he says- I began to dream and then everything started to fall into place”.

His biggest fear, disappointing his readers

This tendency to place the female protagonist in a position of inferiority or vulnerability in front of the man has cost her fierce criticism that accuses her of degrading women.

I think anyone who says I’m not a feminist really doesn’t know me very well. If you have a young woman who seduces a very rich and successful man, this, I think, is a very feminist message. And besides, feminists also have fantasies, ”she justifies herself.

For James, his books “add an element of fantasy and are an escape for people to immerse themselves in another world.”

The writer also confesses that “disappointing the audience” is her “greatest fear” and that fear of disappointing the reader is exacerbated “especially after the phenomenal success of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,'” she says.

Asked if she plans to extend that trilogy, James replies that she has no intention, in principle, of lengthening the story: “I think I left them in a good place (its protagonists Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey) and if I were to extend it, I would have to do something pretty horrible to them and I like happy endings. I am a romantic at heart.

However, despite this argument, minutes later he adds, in a mysterious tone, a “never say never” that, perhaps, gives some hope to his fans.

Married to the Northern Irish screenwriter Niall Leonard and mother of two children, James confesses that she “hates” fame and attention but manages to remain inconspicuous thanks to her pseudonym and “being an overweight middle-aged woman and, therefore, invisible ( for society)”.

Nor is he capable, as he admits, of deciphering the key by which his stories connect with audiences around the world. “I really don’t know what the secret is. I’m still stunned by the success of ‘Fifty Shades’ and, actually, I write for myself and I am fascinated that other women like what I write”, she concludes.

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