Dear E.L. James,
Longtime fan, first time caller.
(Or should I say writer? Never mind, I digress.)
I have wanted to write this letter for quite some time. I’ve had a lot of things on my heart and mind that I’ve wanted to tell you for what seems like forever, and I have finally found the time to do it.
So here it goes…
You changed my life.
Your books changed my life.
Let me explain.
I can still remember the first time I read your book Fifty Shades of Grey. (I say first time because I have honestly lost track of how many times I have read that book, and the others that came after it, over the past years.)
A picture from that beach trip back in 2012.
It was the summer of 2012 right before my senior year of college. I was on a beach trip with one of my best friends, and she had brought the book to read at the beach. I had seen the book around and was curious what it was about, since I had yet to really look into it. My friend told me it was a romance that she could not put down, and I knew if she loved it I would too, so I immediately made her take me to the bookstore so that I could get my very own copy.
Fast forward about 48 hours later and I had devoured the entire series. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning each night reading Fifty Shades of Grey on that trip. I read Fifty Shades Darker the entire car ride home from North Carolina to Maryland, and when I got home from that trip I drove straight to Target to get the third one. Fifty Shades Freed was finished about 5:30 the next morning as the sun was coming up.
It was official: I was hooked, lined, and sinkered to your words and your characters and your books from that moment on.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had been that intensely addicted and consumed by a book or series. Probably not since I read the Harry Potter Series or The Twilight Saga years earlier, or even or The Hunger Games Trilogy that I had devoured earlier that year. I thought about your characters, I became invested on such a real level to them, and I just couldn’t get enough of them.
The moment I finished your books after that fateful beach trip, I started them again because I just wasn’t ready for them to end. I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Christian or Ana or what they allowed me to feel with them as I experienced their story. I wasn’t ready for their love story to come to a close. I just wasn’t ready for it to be over yet.
I can remember wanting to talk to everyone about your books after I read them. I talked to my friends at home and my friends at school about them. I even talked to my boss at the time because she was reading them too, and we had many discussions about everything Christian and Ana. I couldn’t stop talking about them, or thinking about them, or wanting to find more people to talk about them with.
Until I read your books, I had never read a book or series like yours. And I don’t just mean because there was sex or BDSM or themes of dominance and submission. I mean that I had never read a story with a love that was that intense or real or raw or that vulnerable at times. I had never been on that kind of an epic and whirlwind emotional and love filled journey with characters before. I had never felt quite so connected and entranced by everything I was reading and experiencing before.
I mean sure I’d walked the halls of Hogwarts, and fallen in love with a vampire (and a werewolf), and even defeated a dystopian empire a few times by then, but I’d never before felt what I did when I read your books.
You see I had never read real romance before.
I had never ventured into that aisle of the bookstore until I read your books.
Sure I’d read my fair share of love stories in young adult novels and even in some of the women’s fiction books I loved, but I had never read anything that was truly a romance. I had never read a story where the love story was the focus. I had never read a book that gave me every complicated and wonderful and emotional and consuming and heartbreaking and magical moment of falling in love and meeting that one person who changes everything.
I had never read anything like that until I read your books, and it completely changed my life as a reader going forward.
I have always been an avid reader as long as I can remember. My parents quickly figured out that taking me to the bookstore meant I was going to grab as many books as my little arms could hold onto. You could find me in those aisles of young adult and mystery and fiction novels for hours at a time…and after I read your books, I found a whole new set of aisles to explore.
And all the many subgenres that come with it.
I’ve always LOVED to read, but it was your books, and your words, and your characters that pushed me into the wonderful world of romance and those new aisles….and it is where I’ve been happy to stay ever since.
As I went into my senior year of college, I found myself rereading your books on a never ending loop. You see I was deep in the middle of my student teaching internship, other classes, and working part time at a children’s shoe store, so free time was a luxury I didn’t have. I loved to read, but didn’t have the time to jump into new books, so I reread yours. Again and again. That, along with a serious amount of caffeine and support from my friends, is what got me to graduation.
This is where the life changing part comes in.
That next summer, after I found my job as a special education teacher, I finally had the time to go back to my first love: reading. And I promptly started devouring every romance book I could get my hands on. After rereading your series again, I jumped into the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day, then it was Unteachable by Leah Raeder, right after that it was the Breathless Trilogy by Maya Banks, and so on and so forth with so many books and love stories.
It was right in the middle of that that I got the idea to start a book blog. This book blog. It was just a random idea I had one day, but it was one I could not get out of my head. At that time I didn’t know anyone who had a blog, but I did know that I LOVED reading. I also knew that I especially loved reading romance. I wanted to find a way to share that with the world and connect with others who shared that love. So I pulled my less than stellar technological skills together and created The Never Ending Book Basket.
I never knew when I started this book blog that it would bring me into a community of authors, bloggers, and fellow readers that I will NEVER want to leave.
This community includes self-published indie authors, hybrid authors, traditionally published authors, bloggers, editors, formatters, and readers of all kinds. It has people from around the world, in dozens of countries, who come from all walks of life. It has some of the most amazing and incredible people I have ever met within it, who have since become some of my closest and dearest friends. This is a world I didn’t even know existed 5 years ago when I read Fifty Shades for the first time, and 5 years later I don’t know what I would do without this world or the incredible people in it.
I would have never known about any of it or any of them, or been lucky enough to find and join this amazing community, if it wasn’t for you E.L. James.
You changed my life.
You changed my world.
And I do not say that lightly.
Your books, your words, and your epic love story of Ana and Christian were the catalyst for bringing me into this world. It is what made me a lover of love stories and romance. It is what brought about this very book blog. It is what brought me into this amazing and wonderful and inspiring book community of readers and authors and bloggers and other professionals, who just love a damn good love story. It is what has brought me some of my most treasured friendships, it has allowed me to connect with other readers around the world and down the street from my own house, and it has let me experience so many unforgettable moments over the last 5 years.
And honestly, I can’t thank you enough for that.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I could say it a million times, and I don’t think it would ever be enough. It wouldn’t even scratch the surface of being enough. It wouldn’t be enough to truly capture what your books and characters and words gave me, what they opened inside of my own head and heart, and the doors and pathways they opened in the world around me.
I have so much respect for you as a writer, as a businesswoman, and as a human being. I hope one day I have the pleasure of meeting you and thanking you in person for all that you’ve given me and brought to my world. (I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will happen next month at Book Bonanza in Denver.) If that ever happens I’ll l try not to go completely fangirl crazy, but I make no promises. I’ll also try to remember to use words and to not flail with excitement. I’ll try not to tear up and cry too, like I’ve been doing the entire time writing this post, but I especially make no promises with that one.
I just truly can’t say thank you enough for everything.
For the books, for the movies that came after, for the memories and moments you and your stories have created that I will never forget, and for bringing me into a world that I will be forever grateful for.
I could seriously go on and on about how much you and your books have given me.
I could tell you about the time my best friend and I were snowed in at the movie theater and saw Fifty Shades of Grey twice in the same night. (I mean what else were we supposed to do?! I think we made the best decision that night.) I could tell you about how I’ve been to every midnight showing of the movies with some of my closest friends, and how immediately after I go to another showing with my brother and his best friend. (He loves the movies, he just won’t admit it out loud yet.) I could tell you about that time I got a signed copy of Grey in my Bookworm Box and almost cried, while simultaneously shrieking so loud my dad was highly concerned about my welfare.
I could tell you about how the soundtracks from the movies and the ones from the books are usually on a constant loop of some sort. (And I may or may not be listening to the Freed soundtrack right now as I write this post.) I could tell you about how I still find myself going back for a quick minute to reread one of my many favorite scenes from the books, which usually then turns into an hours long rereading of whichever book I’m rereading. I could tell you so many things, so many other memories or moments that you were the catalyst for, but I’ll try to wrap it up here because I really could go on and on for quite some time about all that you and your books and your words and your movies have given me.
I could go on and on, and it still wouldn’t be enough.
And while I feel as if my words will never be enough to truly thank you and to really capture all you have brought to my life with these characters and this series, and what you’ve done for this wonderful book community and world, I truly can’t say it enough.
You changed my life. You changed my world. And I will be forever grateful to you for that and for everything else along the way.
All my best,
(One of your many fans.)