Meet the Man Who's Married to "50 Shades of Grey" Author E.L. James

Lylah M. Alphonse, Senior Editor, Yahoo! Shine
Love + Sex
Screenwriter and novelist Niall Leonard. (Photo: Rolf Marriott via

You may think that being married to the woman who wrote the BDSM "50 Shades" trilogy might mean a long parade of expensive trips, jealous fans, and plenty of erotic toys. But according to Niall Leonard, James' real-life husband of more than 20 years, the couple's "lifestyle" has little in common with the book.

"We're mostly, for all intents and purposes, just a regular family," Leonard, a screenwriter and novelist, told CNN in an interview.

Their two teenage sons have to put up with plenty of fallout from their mom's steamy "Twilight" fan fiction.

"They can look after themselves and they don't take any crap from anyone who wants to tease them about it," Leonard says. "People do, but… deep down they're really proud of what she's done and they're really proud of her."

While the idea may make their sons squirm, Leonard says that he does see aspects of his wife in her "50 Shades" characters, Anastasia Steel and Christian Grey.

"I see my wife in the emails that they exchange," he says. "That's very much my wife's amazing ability to flirt via e-mail."

Does she like the color red? Collect Madonna-and-child pictures? Say "Jeez" a lot or refer to the "apex" of one's thighs? Leonard's not saying. He wasn't her editor, though he did proofread "50 Shades of Grey," "Fifty Shades Darker," and "50 Shades Freed" as his wife (whose real name is Erica) was writing them. And while he enjoys her writing style and story-telling abilities, he says he's not really the target audience.

"It's aimed at women. It works for women," he explains. "Men, not always."

"I tried giving her writing input," he admits. "We're both very individual writers -- I mean all writers are. But some people work in writing teams and we'd never make a writing team because our approaches are completely different."

He may be hoping that his own book will be a hit with the guys. Leonard's debut crime novel, "Crusher," goes on sale this week; it's about 17-year-old Finn Maguire and his search for his father's killer.

"You write what you believe in, you write what excites you, you write what makes you passionate," he says. "And any writer who does that can't go wrong."

He says that he's not jealous of his wife's best-selling successes, and he's certainly not jealous of her fictional fantasy guy.

"He's a deeply damaged fantasy figure," Leonard says. "I'm really happy not to be Christian Grey, because that guy's a mess."

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