THREE South African women are about to nudge EL James's Fifty Shades of Grey off its high horse.
Authors Paige Nick, Helen Moffett and Sarah Lotz are editing a first draft to fulfil their commitment for a three-book erotic fiction deal with a British literary agent.
Oliver Munson of the British agency AM Heath & Co has been in the thick of auctioning off the rights of this "choose your own adventure" erotica series written under the pseudonym of Helena S Paige.
The story, plotted over a girls' lunch last year, presents the reader with different scenarios and allows them to be in charge of the erotic narrative they most desire.
You want the girl to have sex with a woman, a blond man or a dark European? Whichever is your preference, you'll find the narrative thread that suits you. If you don't like the one you're on, you can "abort that mission and choose another", explains one of the series' three authors, Nick.
Jeremy Boraine of Jonathan Ball has bought the South African rights after multi-house bidding. The first title, A girl walks into a bar ..., will be published later this year.
Boraine said "success depends on global noise rather than 'local is lekker' and there has been a lot of international interest in this series".
"There is every indication that this is going to do very well," he said. "It's so good."
German publishers are bidding for rights to publish in that region.
According to AM Heath & Co, translation rights have been sold in 10 countries.
Little, Brown's Sphere imprint won the UK auction and HarperCollins's Morrow imprint won US rights.
"I've loved co-writing this book; it's easily been one of the funniest projects I've ever worked on," Nick said.
"But still, writing sex scenes is never easy," she said.
On writing as a team, Nick said: "It's been amazing. We are so different. Our aim has been to write this well, to use lots of humour and for it not to be cringeworthy."
And it appears that they have been successful.
"The series is inspired. To allow a woman to be in charge of her own erotic destiny ... is uniquely empowering," Sphere's Manpreet Grewal said.
Lotz has already published three novels and co-authored two. Moffett is a poet and editor, while Nick is a Sunday Times columnist.