Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People: E. L. James

ABC's Barbara Walters interviews "Fifty Shades of Grey" author E. L. James.
5:00 | 12/13/12

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Transcript for Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People: E. L. James
Welcome back. I would like to start this segment with a confession. I have read all three volumes of "fifty shades of grey," and I'm hoping there will be a fourth. There. I said it. Lock me up. Just don't tie me up. As you are about to see, it can be uncomfortableto talk about the sexy book with its author, erika leonard, better known as e.L. James. I mean, confession may be goodfor the soul, but what about submission? This year, there was one book making news. It's an erotic novel called "fifth shades of grey." It was hot. Fantasy. Just don't wanna put it down. "Fifty shades of grey" is the fastest-selling paperback of all time. This summer, one book sold per second. Thank you! Translated into 51 languages, the book and its two sequels have made masochism mainstream. On the surface, it's a typical romance novel-- shy virgin swept off her feet by handsome billionaire. But wait. The billionaire likes it rough, as in bondage and submission. The woman holding readers captive? Author erika leonard. (speaks indistinctly) THAT'S SO NICE! I have to fess up. This is my fantasy. And, you know, other people like it--great. Like it? They love it... Hot. Especially those steamy sex scenes, complete with handcuffs, whips, and a red room of pain. Becca battoe narrates the audiobooks. "There is no bedding, just a mattress covered in red leather..." "He's got a red room of pain, and he wants to make me his sex slave..." "Without taking his eyes off me, he gets up from the bed "and gathers both sets of handcuffs. "He grasps my left leg and snaps one cuff around my ankle." You don't look like a woman who knows about whips and bondage and... Masochism. Where did that come from? I'd, uh, I'd read some stuff on the internet and also I had some--some books. And I thought, what would it be like if you met somebody who was into this lifestyle, and you didn't know anything about it, and would you want to do it? Would-- and I just decided to explore it that way. Did you research other than reading? Oh, yes. Yes. Uh, could you be more explicit? NO. (laughs) (laughs) Oh, where do I go from this? I had fun. HADA LOTOF FUN DOING THIS. (laughs) Okay, let me put it another way. You've been married for 25 years. Has your marriage improved? Um, my mar--i'm--i'm very blessed with my husband. We--we're, uh, we get on very, very well. I'LL TRY AGAIN. (laughs) Uh, has anything about this book changed or affected your marriage? Uh... Not especially. Your husband wasn't embarrassed? No, not at all. He wasn't worried people would think that he did this to you? No. (laughs) NO, NOT AT ALL. I don't think that ever occurred to him. Didhe do any of this to you? Barbara... Yeah? What do you think? I THINK HE DIDN'T. (laughing) Did he? I'm not saying. Why initials? Why not your name? Um... Well, I just--it took me about two minutes to come up with my pseudonym. Four years ago, erika was unknown, working in television production in london. Inspired by the "twilight" series, she began writing fan fiction about bella and edward UNDER THE NAME SnowQueens Icedragon. Bella became ana the virgin. Edward became christian the billionaire. Kill the vampires, add the handcuffs, and "fifty shades of grey" was born. In it, christian makes ana sign a contract that controls most aspects of her life. "The dominant and the submissive agree and acknowledge "that all that occurs under the terms of this contract "will be consensual. "The submissive will agree to any sexual activity deemed fit "and pledge she will do so eagerly and without hesitation. "Failure to comply with any of the above will result in immediate punishment." Why do you think so many of your female readers like the idea of someone controlling them in the bedroom? I think there's so much shame surrounding sex. If you're tied up, then you cannot... You know. What's the word I'm looking for? YOU CAN'T RESIST. (laughs) YOU CAN'T RESIST. You can't-- and he has her handcuffed. And you're not responsible for your own actions. Then you can enjoy whatever's happening to you (whispers) AH. AND YOU HAVE LESS SHAME. I understand that. Mm-hmm. Do you think that women want to be submissive? I think sometimes. Yeah, I think they do. Yeah. You have two teenage sons. I do. 15 and 17. Yes. Have they read the books? No. Mommy and a sexy book just doesn't compute. So no, they've not read it. They haven't read it. Do you think this book is pornographic? I don't think these books are pornographic, no. It's a love story, a passionate love story. People fall in love. They have sex. It's very simple. So sweet, this book. Mm. IT'S A SWEET BOOK. (laughs) YEAH. It's sweet. "Fifty shades of grey"--

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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