Erika Leonard, birth name Erika Mitchell (born 1963), better known by the pseudonym E. L. James, is a former television executive and the British author of the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. She currently lives in west London with her husband of over 20 years, screenwriter and director Niall Leonard, and their two teenage sons.
James's parents are Chilean and Scottish. Raised in Buckinghamshire and privately educated, Leonard read history at the University of Kent before becoming a studio manager’s assistant at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield.
CareerEditJames initially wrote fanfiction under the pen name "Snowqueens Icedragon," her most notable work being the Twilight fanfiction entitled "Master of the Universe" that eventually developed into Fifty Shades of Grey.
James has spoken of her shock at the success of the book. "The explosion of interest has taken me completely by surprise," she said. James has described the Fifty Shades trilogy as: "This is my midlife crisis, writ large. All my fantasies in there, and that's it." She did not start to write until January 2009, saying while still active on Fanfiction.net as Snowqueens Icedragon, "I started writing in January 2009 after I finished the Twilight saga, and I haven't stopped since. I discovered Fan Fiction in August 2009. Since then I have written my two fics and plan on doing at least one more. After that... who knows?"
In 2012, Time Magazine included her in its annual list of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World."