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 trilogy 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 teenaged 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.
James has spoken of her shock at the success of the book. "The explosion of interest has taken me completely by surprise," she's said. James has described the Fifty Shades trilogy by saying "This is my midlife crisis, writ large. All my fantasies in there, and that's it." "I started writing in January 2009 after I finished the Twilight saga, and I haven't stopped since. In 2012, Time Magazine included her in its annual list of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World."