Summary: Did you know that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was initially a fanfiction based on Twilight before it was renamed? You can still find the fanfiction story for free here. Find out about the full history of 'Fifty Shades' in this article.
Whether you have read the trilogy or watched the recently released blockbuster movie, Fifty Shades of Grey has proved to be arguably one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of the last couple of years. Some commentators have even credited it for bringing the subject of bondage into the mainstream, and its runaway success shows no sign of abating. The recently released film has so far grossed more than half a billion dollars, and the rest of the trilogy has been confirmed as movie sequels.
Say what you want about the literary supremacy (or lack thereof, as argued by some critics) of it's author, E.L James, the unprecedented success of the trilogy is proof of her creation's effect on people: the erotic tale has simply seduced the world. The world, it seems, can't help but adore being taken and dominated by it, and begging for more. How did it all come about?
Inspired by Twilight
What is less known is that this all started as a piece of fan-fiction based on Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series called Master of the Universe. E.L. James deleted the original from her website, but you can read it for free here. E.L James had only just started writing in 2009 under the pen name of "Snowqueen’s Icedragon," a mere two years before the official release of Fifty Shades of Grey! Just goes to show the power of an addictive story in not only changing one's individual life (she's one of the world's highest earning writers) but also impacting the world on a whole.
Humble beginnings and coming into its own
After the explicit sexual nature of her Twilight tribute was deemed to be inappropriate for the army of minors that count themselves as fans, Master of the Universe was then retrofitted to stand on its own two feet, as it were, as master of of it's own universe. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen morphed into Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey and the rest, as they say is history!
Initially, Fifty Shades of Grey was only published as an eBook (although you could order a printed copy on request). Marketing was extremely minimal, but the notorious and infectious story spread like wildfire by word-of-mouth all around the world. After 100 Million copies sold and film rights sold, for a cool $5 million, before the book was generally physically available, the media dubbed it "Mommy Porn." Something as common, acceptable and quaint as home-baked pie. The Marquis de Sade (the words "sadism" and "sadist" are derived from his name) must be either turning or dancing in his grave.
The world wants more
A book that sells more than The Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is bound to cause a stir. From what E.L. James referred to as "my midlife crisis, writ large... all my fantasies [are] in there, and that's it," she has effectively piqued her fantasy as Anastasia Steele has, and also made the kind of cash flow that would make Christian Grey proud.
The sequels to the trilogy are slated for release in 2017 and 2018. All manners of products from lingerie to wine, now carry the "Fifty Shades of Grey" branding. It has even caused a few divorces, including one of a British woman who passed it on to her husband expecting to inspire him. Unfortunately, the poor husband wasn't down with roughing up his Mrs., so she told the judge she could no longer be married to a man who doesn't love her enough to hurt her. OK, so I don't think she used those words, but it's still nevertheless a true story!
The next time you find yourself inspired by a beloved story, maybe you should write it down, switch the names of the characters around and submit it for feedback. You never know how deep the proverbial rabbit hole could go. If anything, you would benefit from tapping into your creative potential and the therapeutic art of writing.
As Christian Grey says over and over, "Laters, baby." ;)