Meet Niall Leonard, the Man Who's Married to "Fifty Shades of Grey" Author E.L. James

Screenwriter and novelist Niall Leonard. (Photo: Rolf Marriott via niallleonard.com)Screenwriter and novelist Niall Leonard. (Photo: Rolf Marriott via niallleonard.com)You may think that being married to the woman who wrote the BDSM "Fifty 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 "Fifty Shades" characters, Anastasia Steele 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 "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Fifty Shades Darker," and "Fifty Shades Freed" as his wife (whose real name is Erica) was writing them.

"She'd write a new chapter every week or so, and I would proofread it, checking her spelling, punctuation and occasionally suggesting a tweak if I thought the meaning was unclear," he told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. She was posting chapters at Fanfiction.net at the time, under the user name "Snowqueens Icedragon," he said. "One night a week we'd sit at her laptop and go through her latest installment, and somehow we managed that for 18 months without killing each other."

"We did fall out once," he told the newspaper. "I stomped off without finishing the chapter, and she published it anyway, and if any commas were in the wrong place, no one noticed. Whenever Erika encountered a story problem, she'd describe it, and I would come up with a simple solution that was clear, elegant and always so utterly wrong she'd immediately devise her own."

"It would be nice to picture us working at the same desk but in our case it's probably better to stay out of crockery-throwing range," he adds. "I work in my shed, Erika works at her desk, and we meet in the kitchen for meal times or coffee."

While he enjoys his wife's writing style and story-telling abilities, he tells CNN that 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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