Erika Leonard, birth name Erika Mitchell (born 1963) better known by the pseudonym E. L. James, is the British author of the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
James initially wrote fanfiction under the pen name "Snowqueens Icedragon", with her most notable work being a Twilight fanfiction that eventually developed into Fifty Shades of Grey James has spoken of her shock at the success of the book. "The explosion of interest has taken me completely by surprise" she said. James has described the Fifty Shades trilogy as "my midlife crisis, writ large. All my fantasies in there, and that's it. She did not start to write until January 2009, as she revealed while still active on fanfiction.net as Snowqueens Icedragon: "I started writing in January 2009 after I finished the Twilight saga, and I haven't stopped since. I discovered Fan Fiction in August 2009. Since then I have written my two fics and plan on doing at least one more. After that... who knows?" Leonard formerly worked as a television executive. Leonard lives in west London with her husband of over 20 years, screenwriter and director Niall Leonard, and their two teenage sons. Her 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. In 2012, Time Magazine included her in its annual list of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World."