Tea Cup Chat with Jada D’Lee Designs

*Raises tea cup of Bollinger to welcome Jada*


Jada DLee Designs teacup

While we wait for movie news from Team Fifty (and with E L James currently in L.A., we hope there is some soon!), we thought it would be fun to spotlight a few people who have had an impact on the Fifty Shades journey. Those of you who have been fans of E L James since her fanfic writing days will be familiar with our first guest, Jada D’Lee. A rose by any other name… ;)

Thanks for joining us, Jada! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, two years ago I was a wife and Stay at Home Mom and now I’m still doing that, but I also design book covers and book trailers/blinkies. Really makes for interesting conversations with other moms at the playground, I’ll tell you that! It’s funny how everyone just suddenly gets quiet when the words “I design book covers for romance & erotic novels” comes out of your mouth. Come to think of it, those words bring silence every time I say them: the bank, the school, the neighbors…*shrugs* I guess it’s not what you expect a mommy in a cardigan sweater to say. LOL!

Long-time fans of Fifty are very familiar with your MotU blinkie, and new fans are being introduced to the FSoG version (currently kicking ass and taking names on our sidebar). How did you first get started doing blinkies for the Twilight fandom?

I became a fan of fanfiction, and it was a wonderful escape for me to get lost in the characters. A friend of mine started writing, and she asked if I could figure out how to make an animated gif, aka blinkie, to advertise her story on fansites. I had no idea how to do that! Luckily, Google is your friend, and before I knew it, I was making these gifs not only for my friends, but for authors whose stories I was crazy about, as well. And it felt good to give back to those authors. It was the least I could do!

What software program do you use, and do you have any tips for people interested in making their own blinkies/gifs?

Animation Shop is a great program for blinkies/gifs because there’s a great amount of effects to play with. If you’re doing a book trailer, it’s good, as well, to use with movie making programs. I do like to make sure that all of the trailers I make are small enough to be in blinkie form as well though. That’s why the trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey is as short as it is. It’s a teaser, but at the same time, the blinkie can be displayed anywhere on a site, blog, or Tumblr without killing your computer!

Speaking of the Fifty Shades of Grey teaser trailer, what was the creative process that went into making it?

One of the things I loved about the Fifty Shades book trailer was the fact that it was a scene, not a description of the book. For me, I felt that it would make a much larger impact to spark the reader’s curiosity. It was also a challenge to show the characters, without actually showing them. With the movie being made, we didn’t want to put a face to these characters. However, I still needed to bring in their personalities. Using dialogue was the key. Another challenge was the Red Room of Pain, how to present it along with the shock Ana has when she sees it. At first, we had photos of the actual items in the room, but it lacked the impact you get when reading the book. In the end, we decided that showing activities that could take place in the room worked much better.

I hope I captured the flow and feel of the book. The trailer was a blast to make! Going from the reality of calm black and white, then jumping to the fast paced, rolling reds to show the difference between the two sides of Christian’s world: the one on the outside of that door and the one on the inside of it. (A/N: She captured it perfectly! Watch here.)

Along the way, you developed a friendship with E L James. Can you share a little bit about your friendship? We know it will only serve to confirm that the author hasn’t changed one bit with all of the fame coming her way.

Erika is one heck of a lady! If you go out for a girl’s night with her, you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time full of laughs and great memories. However, when bad news hits, she’s the first person to shoot you an email or phone call to ask if there’s anything she can do. She’s got a big heart and is always right there for her friends and family, no matter how busy her life gets. Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be right now if she hadn’t been so encouraging. Every time I voiced an insecurity, she’d boost me right back up. And even though I’m always being silly and teasing her, I hope she knows that I’m very, very proud of her. Erika is an amazing friend, and I’m very glad that we were able to find ways to stay in touch.

Some fans might not know that you even have a cameo in Fifty Shades Darker at the masquerade charity ball. You are one of the “twelve lovely ladies” up for bidding for the first dance auction. When did you find out you got a shout out in the book?

Oh, I actually have a story to go with this! The book Fifty Shades Darker came out months before Christmas, which was right before her books started gaining major popularity. However, I had a feeling that my husband was going to give it to me as a gift, so I decided to wait to get it.

The beginning of December comes and life has been so busy for me that I hadn’t had a chance to talk to Erika in months. Around that time, I see a gift wrapped under the tree and I’m pretty sure it’s a copy of Fifty Shades Darker. Suddenly, I get this email from Erika asking how I was, how my kids were, and wondering if I’d seen the second book yet. She starts telling me how she hopes that I liked the part where she added me to the book…and at that moment, I wanted nothing more than to tear open that gift under the tree and see for myself! However, I didn’t want to ruin my husband’s surprise. I was stuck! So I explained to Erika that the book was wrapped, and I couldn’t look. She thought that was hilarious and offered to email a copy to see, but I told her I’d try my hardest to wait it out.

And, yes, I managed to wait until Christmas morning to finally open the book and see my name. But really, I wasn’t surprised that she did that. She has always been one to show her love by adding friends to her stories. When I go through the Trilogy, I see so many mutual friends mentioned, either in the story or in the acknowledgements. It brings a great big smile to my face every time I see a name!

Excerpt from Fifty Shades Darker (Ch. 7, pp. 146-147):

“Now, gentlemen, pray gather around, and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches.”

Jeez! I feel like I’m in a meat market. I watch, horrified, as at least twenty men make their way to the stage area, Christian included, moving with easy grace between the tables and pausing to say a few hellos on the way. Once the bidders are assembled, the MC begins.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in the tradition of the masquerade we shall maintain the mystery behind the masks and stick to first names only. First up we have the lovely Jada.”

Jada is giggling like a schoolgirl, too. Maybe I won’t be so out of place. She’s dressed head to foot in navy taffeta with a matching mask. Two young men step forward expectantly. Lucky Jada.

“Jada speaks fluent Japanese, is a qualified fighter pilot, and an Olympic gymnast . . . hmm.” The MC winks. “Gentlemen, what am I bid?”

Jada gapes, astounded at the MC; obviously, he’s talking complete garbage. She grins shyly back at the two contenders.

“A thousand bucks!” one calls.

Very quickly the bidding escalates to $5,000.

“Going once . . . going twice . . . sold!” the MC declares loudly, “to the gentleman in the mask!” And of course, all the men are wearing masks so there are hoots of laughter, applause, and cheering. Jada beams at her purchaser and quickly exits the stage.

You and I (Lisa) finally got the chance to meet in person at the San Diego Comic-Con last summer. This journey has brought a lot of friendships into our lives…friendships that have taken us in unexpected directions. For you, one of the most unexpected and rewarding has to be designing book covers for Twilight fanfiction authors who are now going the mainstream publishing route. Congratulations on this new chapter in your life, btw!

I know this wasn’t a question, but I just had to throw in that I loved meeting you and hugging you as well! (A/N: Thanks, Jada. I feel the same way!)

As mentioned, you now design book covers. When did that journey begin, and where do you see it taking you?

When S.L. Scott decided to publish her first book Naturally, Charlie about a year ago, she wanted me to make her cover because she was already a fan of my fanfiction artwork. I was beyond honored, being a fan of hers, and it really was a great opportunity for me. I figured that if it didn’t work out, at least I tried. Now, my portfolio just keeps growing and growing, and just when I think it’s going to slow down, it picks right up again! So I’m really grateful to her for believing in me.

I don’t know where this ride will take me, so for now I’m just enjoying it. Hopefully, it will lead to more work, but even if it only leads to great friendships, I’d be happy with that! If I’ve learned one thing in the past 5 years, it’s that there’s some seriously talented women in this world who can write, edit, make artwork, etc., for some incredible stories. I just feel blessed to be a part of it. It’s been amazing.

How can others get in touch with you to use your book cover services?

I have a Facebook page (here) and if anyone is interested in working with me, feel free to contact me there. I really don’t have a certain ‘style’ of covers, so I’m pretty open to all ideas!

Which of your most recent book covers turned out even better than you expected?

The cover for Animate Me by Ruth Clampett was the one I was the most nervous about. I made so many mock-ups of that cover! But each time, I’d look at the hands and the cup with the design, and it just didn’t look right. It wasn’t until I just dropped back down to the basics and simply put the title on the cup that it all came together. Even then, I was nervous because it was so different. But in the end? I’ve received more compliments over that cover than I could ever imagine! It was a great surprise and looking back, it was worth the risk. Plus, Ruth and I had a lot of fun working on it, and I think that shows as well!

The author, Ruth, was kind enough to talk to us about working with Jada and to share her reaction to the cover.

When I first started seeing Jada’s work with other writers, I dreamed of working with her. I’ve been an art director for years, and I’ve always loved her design sense. But her talent goes beyond that for me. She has a true love of stories and characters that is reflected in her work. Her approach is always sensitive to the writer and the work itself, not just putting her own design stamp on everything. She listens and works with the author while still bringing her talent and special touch to every project. She also supports and encourages us with our writing and promoting efforts long after her work is done. Jada and I work really well together. She’s not just extremely creative, but enthusiastic as well, which brings a special energy to the process. I came to her with a pretty clear idea for what I wanted with the Animate Me cover, but she kept pushing to make it better. The final graphics of the title ended up being the biggest challenge, and she wouldn’t give up until we had it right. I’ll never forget the moment she came up with the final solution and sent it to me. I opened up the jpeg and fell in love…then cried tears of joy. Through it all Jada has become not just a valued designer to me, but a dear friend as well. (A/N: The cover is adorable, as is the story!)

What is one of your all-time favorite book covers that inspires you when you are designing?

I gotta be honest. What inspires me the most when doing covers are movie posters for romantic comedies! I think it’s because in the back of my mind, I’m hoping all these books get made into movies someday, because they’re all so darn good! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?! I think so…*smiles* (A/N: We couldn’t agree more!)

Social Media Links for Jada D’Lee Designs

Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

We’re so happy Jada agreed to join us and thrilled to be able to highlight not only her love for the Fifty Shades Trilogy but also what, by all accounts, seems to be her own success story of how being a fan, friend, and supporter of authors has led her to new adventures in life. And we hope that just about (in a pretty design kind of way) covers it!

Q&A with Fifty Shades Trilogy Author E L James via THR

This interview was done in conjunction with The Hollywood Reporter’s (@THR) first ever ’25 Most Powerful Authors’ list, which E L James was named to. (Read more here.)

E L James THR

In the interview, the author opens up about dealing with her success, bringing members of #TeamFifty onboard, fan interest in a fourth book from Christian’s POV, and the books’ roots in #Twilight fanfiction, just to name a few hot topics.

To check out the entire Q&A, go here.

E L James Launches Updated Website

From the dynamic opening screen to the thoughtful fan-friendly pages, we love the new look of the website. Of course, we’re not surprised that we do with Hoot behind the design! As many of you know, she designed the original website where readers went to read the stories when they were still Twilight fanfiction.

E L James Website

We hope you all get a chance to stop by and take a look around!

50 Shades of Grey Documentary

In this nearly hour-long British documentary from Channel 4 – 4oD, you’ll find something for everyone, regardless of which side of the RRoP door you’re standing on. Woven throughout the video are RRoP scene reenactments beautifully shot in black and white, featuring actors Edward Lewis French as Christian Grey and Rosie Violet Wiseas Anastasia Steele.

Below are a few highlights that we transcribed for you.

David Quantick, Writer: “The amazing thing about these books, which is sort of played down, which I think is wrong, is they’ve come out of fan adoration. They’ve come out of the internet. They’ve come out of this big morass of supposed lack of talent and lack of imagination. It’s a fantastic leap of imagination to go from reading someone else’s books to creating a completely different world.”

Jonny Geller, Literary Agent—Curtis Brown: “They probably should just change the shout [tag] line to, ‘This book will change your wife.’”

Rowan Pelling, Columnist (Former Editor—Erotic Review): “People very often go, ‘I don’t like that vulgar terminology,’ just meaning, you know, a medical term for a body part. And it’s funny how confused we still are about sex. And I think what’s unintentionally clever here is that for the readership, vastly female, she’s made it ok by sort of taking out all of the scary language.”

Geller: “Famously, there is a [Literary Review’s] bad sex [in fiction] award because it is so difficult to write sex well in books. But as many authors will point to the classic novelists, sex is not about writing the act. It’s about the feeling. It’s about the tension. It’s about the erotic, which is not necessarily the stated.”

Professor John Sutherland, UCL: “One of the things that E L James does terribly well is gradually turn up the sexual pressure. Now, it’s very hard to do. Pornography usually…makes the mistake of cutting to the chase too soon, but she doesn’t.”

Kathy Lette, Writer: “He’s spending so much time on her body. He worships her body…every inch of her body he kisses and caresses and strokes and titillates; and so it’s really about just being the center of his erotic, you know, fancy. And we all crave that. I mean, that’s what women want. So if men learn anything from this book at all, it’s, you know, ‘Worship me, darling.’” So who do some of the participants of the documentary think should play the pivotal role of Christian Grey?

  • Michael Fassbender – “That makes sense on one level because we already know from the movie that he did called Shame that he is quite well endowed.”
  • Christian Bale – “He’s quite attractive with a little hint of evil, isn’t he?”
  • Ryan Gosling – “Guys really like Ryan Gosling, and he could make him [Christian Grey] cool for men.”

There are several topics covered in the documentary, including the author’s use of brand names and music. As we know, brands like Apple, Audi, BlackBerry, and Bollinger are now synonymous with the trilogy; and Fifty’s iPod playlist helped immerse us even deeper into his world.

Set to the backdrop of the infamous song Sex On Fire by Kings of Leon, narrator Miranda Richards states, “E L James’s eye for detail doesn’t stop with the phone, the car, or the wine. Christian sets Ana’s spin cycle off to a soundtrack of everything from Kings of Leon to the sixteenth century…Thomas Tallis.”

Sex On Fire by Kings of Leon

Writers are admittedly envious of E L James’s quick rise to fame and fortune. Perhaps they should also be envious of the relationship she has forged with her fans through social media and book signing appearances. (A/N: For a list of upcoming book signings, click on the tab at the top of our site.)

As fans of the author since its humble beginnings as Twilight fanfiction, we can tell you that she has changed very little, continuing to be both approachable and appreciative. Armed with a warm and ready wit, you can find her most days trying to maintain that connection via Twitter at @E_L_James.

Interested In Roles, But Have They Read The Books?

A movie deal made literally on the heels of the Fifty Shades of Grey book series being published has generated a lot of buzz but has barely given already-busy actors/actresses a chance to keep up and read the story that will be coming to the big screen.

We’ve already talked about the first few actors (Ian Somerhalder, Chris Pine, William Levy) who openly spoke about it here. As we said previously, that was just the beginning. Since then, more actors/actresses haven’t been shy about tossing their grey ties and handcuffs into the ring when asked if they are interested in playing the characters of Christian and Ana.

Admittedly, he hasn’t read the books, but when Access Hollywood described the story and character of Christian Grey to Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, Battleship) in an interview, he replied, “I was born to play that part.” (Source)

His costar in the upcoming movie Battleship, Taylor Kitsch (John Carter), was also asked about playing the role by Access Hollywood. He also admitted he has not read the books. However, it seems Fifty Shades of Grey is definitely on his radar because he stated he is asked about the books “almost daily.” (Source)

When Celebuzz asked Chris Hemsworth (Thor, SWATH, The Avengers) about the role of Christian, he announced, “I’m not going to say anything. I haven’t read the book!” He did say he had previously heard about the books, as he was present when his Avengers’ co-star Chris Evans (Captain America) was asked if he would like to play the role. (Source)

A fan asked Michael Welch (The Twilight Saga) via twitter if he was up for the role. He responded:

@carol_leomil: @MichaelWelchAct Do you would like to play Christian Grey in the movie? =)” Sure, it’s gonna be gosling though.

(Note: If we were E L James, we would take the opportunity to audition ALL of the actors interested in playing Christian because what a glorious and surreal opportunity it would be to hear several different smexy actors saying the words you wrote!!!)

Potential Ana actresses are speaking out too!

Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) was asked about the movie by @mtvnews, and she stated, “I haven’t read it.” She went on to say that she didn’t think she should star in it alongside her Vampire Diaries’ costar (and boyfriend) Ian Somerhalder concluding, “Either he should get it, or I should get it.” (Source) Sounds like she would be interested in playing Ana under the right circumstances though.

In an interview with Kristen Stewart (The RunawaysThe Twilight Saga, SWATH), Celebuzz’s Taryn Ryder asked about the FSoG movie roles going to Kristen and her Twilight Saga co-star (and rumored boyfriend) Robert Pattinson because of the story’s basis in Twilight fanfiction, only to be answered with “I haven’t read the book yet.” She goes on to say she wants to work with Rob again but it would need to be something ‘ridiculously ambitious’.” (Source)

And finally, Jennifer Love Hewitt (The Client List) has only just begun reading the books but declared to Access Hollywood, “I wanna be Anastasia so badly.” (Source)

So exactly who in Hollywood IS reading the books?

Eva Longoria tweeted after she met E L James backstage at The View. Hopefully this means that if she didn’t have the books already, Eva left that day with three new signed books in hand to read! Could they have discussed a part for her?

Eva Longoria: Look who I met in the green room of the View! E.L. James author of Shades of Grey! Who is reading this? Or read it? http://say.ly/Esb3gUF

Allison Williams (Girls) told Access Hollywood that she is reading the books. When asked if she would be up for playing the part of Anastasia Steele with all that it entailed, she waivered but didn’t seem to completely rule it out. (Source)

Wendy Williams, Ryan Seacrest, and Julianne Hough have also publically said they are reading the books. Jennifer Grey tweeted a few references specific to the books. Others are poised to read the books, including Fran Drescher, who has the books on her Kindle, and MTV’s Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz), who tweeted he is in possession of the books for research purposes. You can read the complete article where he mentions FSoG here.

Have we heard from your favorite(s) yet? If not, let’s hope they have upcoming interviews with @AccessHollywood, @mtvnews, @ChristinaMTV and/or @Taryder with @CELEBUZZ because they are not shy about bringing up the topic!!! Thankfully!

Fifty Shades of Neutral: Addressing the Controversy

We realize there is a lot of controversy surrounding the success of these books because of the author’s unusual path to publication. It originated as a Twilight fanfiction and there are several direct comparisons (mostly the built-in character infrastructure) that can be made between the two stories. But as with any movie adaptation, several changes could be made to the characters and/or setting. So perhaps in developing the script, some of those comparisons to Twilight will be changed to lessen any similarities.

Even as Twilight fans who originally found our way to E.L. James’ story via fanfic, we remain Fifty Shades of Neutral. The question of possible copyright infringement is something that the authors, publishers, and their lawyers will have to work out. If anyone lawfully decides to halt production of this story becoming a movie, then we will observe such a ruling.

I think what we would all love is for Stephenie Meyer herself to release a statement about how she feels about the issue.

The bottom line? We are fans of both series, separately, (there’s no Team Twilight versus Team Fifty Shades here) and we will continue to be fans of both.