UNION SQUARE — Erotic romance writer E.L. James has inspired hundreds of New Yorkers to spice up their sex lives, fans said at a discussion with the "Fifty Shades of Grey" author Thursday night.
James, the British writer whose titillating trilogy has sparked criticism for its portrayal of sadomasochism, drew a packed crowd of admirers to the Union Square Barnes & Noble Thursday, many of whom waited three hours to see her speak.
"I'm here because I'm obsessed with these books," said Ashley Abatiello, 24, from Glendale, Queens. "Let me tell you, there were times when I was reading about Christian and Ana that I felt I was cheating on my husband — the books are that good."
"Shades of Grey" tells the story of innocent literature student Anastasia Steele, who is drawn to the darkly handsome billionaire Christian Grey. As their steamy affair deepens, Christian makes increasing demands on Ana, who is both shocked and attracted, according to the author's website.
Roseann Longo, 50, from Manalapan, N. J., said she read the entire trilogy in three days.
"The bottom line about this story is unconditional love," Longo said. "It's about people who are willing to change no matter how imperfect you are. It's about loving someone so much that you overlook all of their imperfections."
One of the few men in the audience Thursday night was Benny Lopez, 31, from Canarsie, who hadn't read the books but said his wife had told him all about them — in detail.
"I have to say [these books] have been great for our relationship and they given me great ideas for our sex life," Lopez said.
James, who spoke alongside popular sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff, thanked her fans for their devotion and said she was overwhelmed by her enormous following. James' books currently hold all three top spots on the New York Times' bestselling trade fiction list.
"All I wanted to do was write a love story that was a little racy," James told the crowd. "Next thing I know I'm in New York City and it's all because of you guys. Thank you."