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'Unknown' British author tops US bestseller list

12th March 2012

A previously unknown British author has topped the New York Times bestseller list after her erotic novel based on the Twilight books became a literary sensation in the US.

E. L. James had enjoyed little success in the publishing world until her fan fiction story Fifty Shades of Grey - based on the erotic adventures of Edward and Bella from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books - became an online hit.

James quickly re-wrote the novel with new characters and situations and fleshed the story out into a trilogy, with the first instalment proving a major hit with American readers.

The first run of 250,000 copies – printed by a small publisher in Australia – has already sold out, while the author has also signed a lucrative new eBook deal with Random House offprint Vintage.

James said her journey from being unknown to becoming a bestseller author has been an 'extraordinary and wholly unexpected adventure'.

'I've heard from so many readers trying to find these books in their local bookshops and libraries. It is gratifying to know that they will soon become widely available in the US and around the world,' she added.

The author's agent, Val Hoskins, attributed the wildfire success of the novel to word of mouth, with social networking sites playing a key role as readers shared their opinions of the book and promoted it.

James is now hard at work putting the finishing touches to the second and third instalments in the trilogy - Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed - where readers will learn the fates of the series' protagonists, entrepreneur Christian Grey and literature student Anastasia Steele.

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