'Fifty Shades of Grey' Author's Husband Speaks: Meet the 'Real Christian Grey'
Every breathless reading of E.L. James' breakout novel, "Fifty Shades of Grey" brings up similar questions: Was James' home life the kinky inspiration for her book? Now, finally, we have an answer.
The man behind Christian Grey, James' husband Niall Leonard has decided to pull back the velvet curtains and give the world a glimpse into the couple's life. "I'm the least romantic fecker [SIC] that ever lived - ask my wife Erika, aka E.L. James," said Leonard to The Guardian, "Our first Christmas together I bought her a tin opener, and my earliest experience of kinky sex was her trying to shove it up my arse."
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Leonard writes in The Guardian UK that James wasn't as inspired by her hot and heavy home life as she was inspired by reading the "Twilight" saga and essentially thinking, "this bar is pretty low, let's see if I can do one better." Which isn't really a surprise to anyone that has read any of these books.
"Erika had been working in TV as a head of production, and she was great at her job, but never really happy. Then, late in 2008, she saw the first Twilight movie, devoured all the books in one sitting, and suddenly knew what she really wanted to do - write her own romantic fiction."
Great news for Leonard - he couldn't wait to catch up on all "The Wire" and "The Sopranos" DVDs he had been piling up.
According to Leonard, James first submitted the stories that would turn into 50 Shades at the fanfiction.net forum under the user name "Snowqueens Icedragon." Seriously, you just can't make this stuff up — I couldn't write that better myself.
Apparently Leonard was her first editor, "She'd write a new chapter every week or so, and I would proof-read it, checking her spelling, adding and subtracting commas, cutting back on those bloody ellipses... and occasionally suggesting a tweak if I thought the meaning was unclear."
This came naturally to Leonard, as he's a writer as well. A TV screenwriter who has worked on "Wire in the Blood" and "Monarch of the Glen," Leonard was challenged by James last year to take part in Nanowrimo, which sees participants attempt to write a novel in a month. The novel he wrote, "Crusher," a young adult thriller in which a 17-year-old finds his stepfather bludgeoned to death and becomes the police's prime suspect, plus two others, were then acquired by Random House.
"Crusher is a story I have wanted to write for years, and it finally all came together last November, when my wife encouraged me to take part in the Nanowrimo novel-writing event," said Leonard. "I am thrilled and delighted that RHCP have picked up Crusher for publication, and it's a fantastic honour to join the distinguished names on their writers' list."
Publisher Annie Eaton called the novel, in which the teenager Finn sets out to find the real killer of his stepfather, an "electrifying story". "Niall's writing is immensely assured, he is a fantastic new voice for teenagers and this is a truly exciting acquisition for RHCP," she said.
Leonard and James weren't expecting the "Fifty Shades" books to take off at all.
"At first there were rumours on Twitter that American mums were exchanging copies at school gates and soccer pitches. That sounded sweet, and kind of naughty, but nothing to get excited about. Then, on New Year's Eve 2011, two separate messages arrived from Hollywood producers asking about the movie rights, and a review appeared on Amazon by a reader who mentioned that every woman in her New York hairdressing salon was either reading the book or talking about it. We looked at each other and thought, "Oh s***..."
The one annoying part of being the husband of a famous erotic writer: journalists and their nagging, moronic questions.
"Journalists ask if fans turn up on our doorstep asking silly questions. No, but journalists do. Do we have a dungeon? Or a 'Red Room of Pain' Maybe, and maybe there's a helicopter pad on the roof in case Christian Grey drops in for a spanking. 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' is a fantasy - have they forgotten what that means? Do they chase JK Rowling down the street daring her to use her Avra Kedavra spell? Do they ask Hilary Mantel how many courtiers she's beheaded?"
James has been famously tight-lipped and downright just giggly in interviews thus far, but the author did describe Leonard as "very cooperative" with all of the hoopla surrounding her success at a recent book-signing, according to People.
She said in New Haven, Connecticut, "My husband still rolls his eyes and says, 'God, what do we got to do now?'"
"Fifty Shades of Grey" is currently being adapted into a film, with only producers Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti signed on to produce the film, having been hand-picked by James.