Recently, bestselling author EL James surprised the world when she announced that she would release a new version of her worldwide bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey – this time written from Christian Grey’s point of view. Within hours of the announcement, James’s new book, titled GREY, immediately jumped to number one on online bestseller lists. On the opening page of GREY: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian, James writes, ‘The book is dedicated to those readers who asked… and asked… and asked… and asked for this.’ In GREY, James offers her fans the opportunity to see the world of Fifty Shades anew through the eyes of its intriguing and enigmatic protagonist. ‘Christian is a complex character,’ said James, ‘and readers have always been fascinated by his desires and motivations, and his troubled past. Also, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, there are two sides to every story.’
We spoke to EL James recently, and found out she has been thinking about exploring Christian’s point of view for some time:
So, Christian? How long have you been thinking about telling his side of the story?
During an event in London in 2012, I mentioned that I wanted to explore Christian’s side of the story, but the idea really gained traction when I began to hear from readers. Over the past few years, I’ve written bits and pieces from his POV and found getting inside his head to be both challenging and satisfying, so I kept at it.
You indicated that the inspiration for GREY came from your readers. What are some of the things they’ve said to you?
Writing the first two chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey in Christian’s POV and putting them in the back of Fifty Shades Freed was where this really kicked off. I’ve had many, many emails and tweets and Facebook posts from readers asking me to continue with his side of the story. Finding the time to do it was tricky. Once the movie wrapped up, I found I had more time, and I started to think about it then. Frankly, it was therapy to return to these characters that I adore.
Why did you keep this work a secret/surprise?
I always like to surprise readers, and I don’t believe in long engagements!
How excited were you to revisit these characters on the page? What was that like? As a writer, are they always with you?
The characters and their voices are always with me. I might be out and about and spot something that I think Christian or Ana might like… and then they start bickering and bantering in my head. It’s tricky because I’ve been writing something else too, so it gets pretty crowded in there.
As you spent more time with Christian, exploring the story from his point of view, were there things about his character that surprised you?
I think the biggest surprise for me was Christian’s relationship with his brother, Elliot, which was a lot closer than I had imagined. That was fun to explore. Elliot is the polar opposite of Christian – yet they have an easy fraternal camaraderie, which was a pleasure to write about.
You have readers all around the world who have fallen in love with Fifty Shades. Is there anything you want to tell them about GREY?
I think Christian might have some surprises in store for them – but deep down I just hope they enjoy it!
(The Fifty Shades trilogy – Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed – has reached worldwide sales of more than 125 million copies, and has become one of the most successful publications in the history of book publishing. The interview has been provided by Penguin Random House)