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Apparently, E.L. James had been working on romance projects for a long time before she published her Fifty Shades books. The prominent author and movie producer recently revealed that her new book The Mister could have been her first book if things had panned out differently. She revealed how long she’d been writing The Mister, noting,
This story has been with me for a very long time. I wrote a very rough draft of it in 2009, so it’s actually been with me before Fifty. And I’ve been trying to silence these characters in my head for a long time. Eventually I managed to get them onto the page.
Anyone familiar with Fifty Shades of Grey should already know E.L. James first novel started out as Twilight fan fiction and then branched out to become the tale of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey fans worldwide know and love today. The first Fifty Shades book was first published back in 2011 and James has previously mentioned it took her 18 months to write the trilogy.
Before E.L. James decided she needed a more erotic version of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen in her life, she had started treatment on The Mister. This makes sense, given in real life E.L. James is British and a European tale about an Earl falling in love with his housekeeper is more on brand than a story set in the Northwestern part of the United States.
Per what E.L. James told AZ Central, the idea came about when she was thinking about what would happen if a man were to fall in love with his cleaner. However, there were a lot of stops and starts until that germ of an idea could become even a rough draft for a book. Then, of course, there was the distraction of writing and working on the movies for her Fifty Shades series.
Finally, last March, The Mister started falling into place. Per the author:
I had the rough draft I’d written, but I didn’t really understand the characters at all. And then over the years they’ve slowly crystallized. But with Alessia, I had to go to Albania to get a better idea of what she is like and where she’s from and all of that, because it’s actually very difficult to find information about Albania. So, I went last March and everything sort of fell into place, and I was able to finish the book.
Ultimately, The Mister seems to be selling well so far. It sold more than 50,000 copies in its first week on shelves, and allegedly there are some interested parties sniffing around a movie deal.
However, had The Mister come out before Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s hard telling whether or not it would have attracted such a large following of loyal readers.
So, if you are someone who subscribes to the idea that everything happens for a reason, perhaps it was extremely fortuitous that E.L. James got stuck on an early draft of The Mister and was able to return to the idea later.