"Fifty Shades of Grey" author E. L. James steps out at Comic-Con

Author E.L. James signs a copy of her book "Fifty Shades of Grey" during the first day of Comic-Con convention held at the San Diego Convention Center on July 12, 2012, in San Diego. Denis Poroy/Invision/AP

Author E.L. James signs a copy of her book "Fifty Shades of Grey" during the first day of Comic-Con on July 12, 2012, in San Diego.
Denis Poroy/Invision/AP

(CBS/AP) E L James, author of the wildly popular erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" made an appearance at Comic-Con on Thursday.

The London-based writer, who was moved to start writing after reading Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series, has been to Comic-Con once before, when she came to participate in a panel for fans who wrote fiction inspired by the "Twilight" series.

"I don't think I've ever been swept up in something like I was swept up with that," James said Thursday before her Comic-Con appearance in San Diego. "I read them and reread them and reread them, and then I sat down and wrote a novel."

Now, she's the bestselling author of her own literary phenomenon - a romantic trilogy that has commanded a seven-figure publishing price, been translated into 42 languages, been dissected by book clubs and talk-show hosts and is set to be made into a movie by the Oscar-nominated producers of "The Social Network."

"It's just crazy," James said, sipping a latte on the patio of a hotel near the San Diego Convention Center. "This whole thing has just been mindboggling, how it's happened and how it's exploded, and so quickly."

The "Fifty Shades" books, which follow the relationship between college student Anastasia Steele and billionaire-bachelor-with-a-taste-for-bondage Christian Grey, were published in April by a division of Random House, Inc. and have already sold more than 16 million copies.

The 49-year-old mother of two is guessing, along with fans, about who will play the central characters on screen. Readers share endless ideas on Twitter, and while James finds some of their suggestions perplexing, she hasn't ruled anyone out. She also betrays no favorites.

She is still not sure how involved she'll be in the production or whether she might contribute to the screenplay. Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti earlier this week, "so it's like, what's next?" she said.

She almost didn't want to do the movie at all.

"Books are such a personal experience for every individual reader," she said. "I just thought it's going to be really hard to do."

But she owed it to herself - and to her story - to go for it.

"If the book says anything, it's life's not a dress rehearsal," she said. "Just go and do stuff. I'm trying to embrace that."

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