James dedicates this 576-page paperback “to those readers who asked … and asked … and asked … and asked for this.”
In a statement released this morning, James said: “Christian is a complex character, 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. It’s been a great pleasure to return to my happy place — writing, being with Christian and Ana in their universe, and working with the fantastic team at Vintage.”
James’s editor, Anne Messitte, said: “When Erika mentioned to me that she wanted to explore Christian’s viewpoint and reopen the story, I was incredibly excited for her and for her readers. This book has all the compelling attributes of its predecessors, and I can’t wait for Fifty Shades fans to experience the work again from a perspective they have long desired.”
As everyone on planet Earth knows, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy tells the story of a virginal young woman named Anastasia Steele who starts a steamy relationship with mysterious billionaire Christian Grey. He introduces her to the forbidden world of BDSM. Few details about the plot of the upcoming novel have been released, but readers may finally learn more about why Christian acts the way he does.
The jacket copy promises “a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world,” and it makes a veiled reference to “the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night.”
But this upcoming “Grey” won’t be James’s first effort at writing from Christian’s point of view. Her third novel, “Freed” (2012), offered a creepy flashback to “Fifty’s first Christmas” from little Christian’s perspective. And the novel ended with a retelling of his first meetings with Anastasia in his office and then at the store where she works. “I’d forgotten the possibilities that a hardware store could present to someone like me,” he thinks. Ana helps him pick out some cable ties and masking tape. . . . “Against my better judgment, I want her. Now I have to wait.”
Not much longer.
The first printing of “Grey” will be 1.25 million, with further printings expected after that. This is an extraordinarily large book to keep secret. Paul Bogaards, executive director of media relations at Knopf, said, “It was a very small subset of folks who knew about the project, and that was by design because EL James wanted this to be a complete surprise to her readers.”
Had the news been announced just a few days earlier, it would have dominated the Book Expo publishers convention in New York, which ended May 29. But Bogaards wasn’t fazed by the timing. “When you have news like this of this magnitude,” he said, “it doesn’t matter when you make the announcement.”
Bookstores will have to move quickly, though. Bogaards said he and his team used data from the “Fifty Shades” trilogy to project sales for “Grey” later this month. “That number — 1.25 million — that’s the yield that we could achieve in the time frame that we have. Books are literally printing right now. June is going to be a very happy day for our retail partners.”
The three “Fifty Shades” books — “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” — have sold more than 125 million copies worldwide. The books, which evolved from self-published “Twilight” fan fiction, juiced the profits at the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and spawned a tremendous interest in sexually explicit fiction among new readers.
A movie version of the first book, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, was released in February amid rumors that the stars did not get along. James, who lives in London, is currently working on movie versions of “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed,” which will be released in 2017 and 2018.