Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Husband of Fifty Shades of Grey author insists 'I'm no masochist'

Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James

The Northern Irish husband of Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James has denied that she based the seductive Christian Grey character on him.

He said of the best-selling phenomenon: “I’m not a masochist and that’s all I’m going to say about our sex life.”

Newry man Niall Leonard proof-read the red-hot global bestseller, but said the book is fiction and he is nothing like the book’s leading lothario.

“I am the least romantic fecker who ever lived — ask my wife Erika, aka EL James,” he joked.

“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 just a fantasy — have they forgotten what that means? Do they chase JK Rowling down the street daring her to use her Avra Kedavra spell?”

Mr Leonard was in Newry recently for the funeral of his dad Philip, who was MD of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council.

Mr Leonard said that despite his wife’s phenomenal book sales, their lives are relatively normal.

“The dog has to be walked, the kids have to be fed, there are ageing relatives and the next novel to be fretted about. We may have swapped our pongy Honda for a big shiny Volkswagen but that’s about it,” he said.

A graduate of the National Film and Television School, where he met his TV producer wife, Mr Leonard is an accomplished screenwriter and novelist. He has worked on shows such as Ballykissangel, Wire In The Blood and Monarch Of The Glen. His new crime novel, Crusher, is out now.

“We had sworn we would never work together in television. As a producer she would have fired me the day I directed The Bill and ran over by 30 minutes. One evening a week we’d sit down at her laptop and go through her latest Fifty Shades instalment and somehow we managed that for 18 months without killing each other,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

The racy novel caused the pair to fall out once.

“I stomped off without finishing the chapter and she published it anyway. If any commas were in the wrong place, no-one noticed.”

Niall added: “Whenever Erika encountered a story problem, she’d describe it, and I — being a bloke — would come up with a simple solution that was clear, elegant and always so utterly wrong she’d immediately devise her own. I don’t think she once followed a suggestion of mine.”

Niall revealed while there are two writers in the house, the pair prefer to work separately to avoid “crockery throwing”.

He said: “It would be nice to picture us on opposite sides of the same desk, but I work in my shed, Erika works at her desk and we meet up in the kitchen for meals or coffee”.

Newry SDLP councillor John McArdle, a close friend of Niall’s late father Philip and mother Rose, said locals were proud of Niall and his wife.

“While a lot of us would never admit to reading Fifty Shades of Grey, most of us probably have had a peek. In fact, I am planning to put it in my wife’s Christmas stocking,” he said.

“As for comparing Niall to this Christian Grey character, that’s just ridiculous. Niall is just a normal 40-something country lad from a big family. Like his late father, he is great craic, a fantastic raconteur who could talk to anyone.”

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