Exclusive reveal: EL James ‘Freed: Fifty Shades’ cover is a nod to bonds of marriage

"Liberated" by EL James
The author EL James nods to the notes on the cover of the last episode of the "Fifty Shades of Gray" series "Freed: Fifty Shades Freed, as told by Christian" on June 1st. This time around, however, the cover photo is more about marital ties than sexual ones.
The cover, which USA TODAY can reveal, features a wedding ring wrapped around Christian Grey's ring finger.
"I think it's great to put on a wedding ring and then write 'Freed' on it because those two things together don't mean freedom," but for Christian it is, says James USA TODAY. "That was important to me so that he would be free of his past."
When designing the final cover for the series, James, whose name is Erika Leonard, wanted to keep the look in sync with its predecessors. Mostly monochromatic shades of gray, this one has a splash of color with some pink confetti hearts. While the novels were known to be racy, James always wanted to hold back the covers.
Choosing a “stripped down” cover came from personal experience reading romance novels in public, says James, a USA TODAY bestselling author.
"I spent my 30s reading romantic novels with women whose clothes are falling off shirtless heroes and on the tube that goes into central London it was like, 'Oh, look what I'm reading '", she says.
Author EL James
The wedding ring on the cover means that James will finally give Anastasia and Christian's wedding their own special touch. This special event has never been written about for fans of the books. "I have many, many people who say, where is the wedding? And I was just like, 'Right, you want a wedding? I'm going to have a wedding.' It was fun, I really enjoyed it in the end. And every time I read it I cried because I really enjoyed the wedding. "
Writing the novel during the pandemic had its ups and downs. "It was just great because there was nothing else I could do," says James. But writing about a world without COVID was difficult. "It was weird writing situations where they go out and meet people and I think, 'You don't wear masks! You are not socially distant!' I think: "Oh my god, Christian, invent Zoom for god's sake!" ""
Then he spent the whole time in Christian's head. "It was exhausting," says James with a laugh. "It was also great fun to be there and channel some of my anger through him because he's such an angry person. He's very intense most of the time and sometimes makes him pull back just to calm himself down, but he just doesn't, bless him. "
USA TODAY's Mary Cadden interviews writer EL James ahead of the release of Freed: Fifty Shades Freed As Told by Christian.
Now that the "Fifty Shades" series is coming to an end, James has been working on a few projects of his own, although none are definitive, she says. Fans have asked for a sequel to her USA TODAY bestselling book, "Mister," and she recently dipped her pen in paranormal romance, although this is more of a project she wrote for herself.
"I'm a sucker for a love story. I love a love story, I love a happy ending. I love all of that," says James. While there are currently no plans to release the paranormal romance, writing has been a bit of a departure for her. "It needs another book because it ends in a terrible cliffhanger and I haven't written that yet, so maybe I'll do that later."
At the moment, James is looking forward to life after the pandemic. She has her first round of COVID-19 vaccine and is waiting for her second dose. First on your to-do list? "I would really like to hug my mother. I haven't been able to do that for over a year."
Continue reading
E.L. James goes "darker" when Christian Gray recounts the latest kinky "Fifty Shades" story
The best new books that got us laughing, swooning, and at the root of love
"Fifty shades of gray" to "The Mister": E.L. James' new book has tamer sex and social awareness
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: The cover of 'Freed: Fifty Shades' is a marriage nod
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