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The Fifty Shades of Grey Fad Is Pretty Surprising to E.L. James, Too

This morning, the Today show tracked down British TV executive turned best-selling "MommyPorn" author E.L. James for a segment on her erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, and it turns out that she's as shocked as anyone else that her "midlife crisis" became a hit. "I have no idea," James sheepishly chuckles when asked how the book took off. "It was just a hobby." James comes off as charmingly embarrassed about the whole affair — she actually cringes when the reporter tries to read lines back to her — and she doesn't pretend to be a Serious Writer or anything other than a mom who had a little too much fun on the Twilight message board sites. ("I'm not a great writer" is the quote Today chooses to go out with.) There is one amazing flash of authority, when James explains that a "rich and domineering man" is "really attractive on paper," and you begin to understand how this cute suburban mom wound up writing S&M Lite fan-fic on the Tube. It's kind of great, that moment! And then, because it's the Today show, a group of random Fifty Shades fans show up to explain how the book is about honesty and love and stuff.  You'll want to watch it all.

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Photo: NBC