Jodi Ellen Malpas 'overwhelmed' at erotic novel's US success
Erotic novelist Jodi Ellen Malpas was "overwhelmed" when sales of her book outstripped best-selling authors including Dan Brown and James Patterson.
For a former health and safety officer who had self-published, it was a huge achievement.
She released the first of her trilogy in October and since then the work has taken off in the US, selling more than 250,000 copies and leading to a deal with US firm Grand Central Publishing.
Her success culminated earlier this month when she topped the New York Times eBook bestseller list.
Her erotic fiction follows in the footsteps of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.
The works, by previously unknown British author EL James, became a publishing sensation and have sold more than 70 million copies around the world.
'Odds against me'
Now Mrs Malpas's novel - based on a love story between a lord of the manor and an interior designer - is set to be published in book form in October in the US and the UK.
Yet the mother of two from Northampton was unsure of her abilities as a writer and initially penned her works in "secret" while working at her father's block paving firm.
Mrs Malpas, 33, who also worked as a waitress and for an amusement machine firm, admits she did not show any particular literary talent at school and did not "excel in English".
She says her desire to become a writer developed very slowly.
"The story was in my head for a long time before I set it down and I wrote in secret for a long time. I did not know if I would be any good at writing," she says.
She wrote the books in the evenings, persevering well into the small hours.
"Eventually my friend read it and pushed me to do something with it."
She sent it to a number of literary agents in the UK without success.
"I know hundreds of novels are sent to them, so I knew the odds were against me," she says.
So in the end she decided to self-publish as an eBook as she "had nothing to lose".
The first This Man novel was published in October last year.
"In the beginning of November I sold my first in the US. Next I saw 50, then 100 sold and by the middle of November I was selling 1,000 a day," she says.
"I honestly had no idea what was happening and before I knew it, I was being approached by agents in New York and had to get a lawyer. I am quite overwhelmed."
'Passionate love story'
Mrs Malpas has now signed a deal with Grand Central Publishing. She says she cannot say how much it was worth, but admitted it was a "major deal".
Beth DeGuzman, vice president at Grand Central Publishing, says: "We're over the moon with the trilogy. The eBook reading community has already taken Jodi very much to their hearts, and we're delighted to have the opportunity to bring these wonderful stories to a wider readership.
"Jodi is a very special talent and we're looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for her."
Foreign rights have already been sold to her books in Hungary, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany.
Mrs Malpas says she was amazed when she saw her third book, This Man Confessed, at the top of New York Times eBook list, ahead of Inferno by The Da Vinci Code novelist Dan Brown.
"I read every one of Dan Brown's books, he is one of my all-time favourites," she says.
Her trilogy follows the exploits of a handsome lord of the manor Jesse Ward and a young interior designer Ava O'Shea brought in to work on the property.
"It's essentially a passionate love story, with an erotic edge," she says.
"Jesse is a playboy and lord of the manor. He is troubled. He is very controlling, but also very sexy."
Mrs Malpas believes the success of the erotic fiction genre is partly down to the need to escape into fantasy.
"Like many women, we have normal lives, keep a house and home, but we escape into fiction," she says.
She says her husband has not read her work but is "very happy for me, proud and very supportive".
"The whole family has been left a bit stunned," she says.
And Mrs Malpas has a straightforward tip for would-be novelists, which is to "write from the heart".
"If you write for what you think people want to read, you won't get the authenticity."