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Video: E.L. James’ husband: I didn’t inspire ‘Fifty Shades’

  1. Closed captioning of: E.L. James’ husband: I didn’t inspire ‘Fifty Shades’

    >>> back now at 1:20 with mr. "fifty shades of grey." not christian grey but the husband of the best-selling author e.l. james. her steamy trilogy has smashed publishing records and opened a new conversation about intimacy in the process. now her husband of more than 20 years and a longtime television writer nile leonard is out with his debut young adoubt novel called "crusher." good morning to you. we'll talk about your book but fair to say different than your wife's work.

    >> completely different, yeah.

    >> i know you've answered this question a thousand times but mostly overseas. let's set it straight here in the u.s. are you or are you not the inspiration for christian grey?

    >> i'm not the inspiration for christian grey except --

    >> let's get into that a little bit. i know you helped proofread the book. when you were reading what she wrote, were you surprised or shocked?

    >> when i was proofreading, i was looking more for her grammar mistakes than anything else.

    >> probably the only one way looking for commas.

    >> that's what she wanted me to do, and i did notice a few things. i was interested to see what she was interested in. it wasn't a complete surprise.

    >> you kind of knew she had some of these ideas swirling about in her head?

    >> yeah.

    >> to say this has been a phenomenon is kind of ain understatement, 30 million copies of this trilogy sold in the u.s. alone. your wife is listed in "time" magazines most 100 influential women. sails of sex toys have skyrocketed what. a marketing campaign you've had.

    >> in the beginning there was no marketing campaign at all. purely word of mouth and the momentum grew and grew, and as you say it became beyond a phenomenon, something metaphors couldn't capture. there are no words for it. we used to sit around and say wow.

    >> when did you realize this has kind of taken on a life of its own?

    >> well, it was on new year's eve last year. we got two e-mails, separate times from hollywood producers asking about the rights. a review appeared on a shopping site online i had to buy the book because i went to the hairdressing salon and everybody was talking about it or reading it and we realized something was going on. rumors before on twitter, social networks , moms on the play field and passing it around the school gate and around new year's we learned something was going to happen.

    >> grammar and commas aside, do you like the book?

    >> i think it's an amazing book. i think it's fast moving and funny and engrossing, a tremendous compassion. i love it.

    >> it's a little controversial because it definitely pushes the envelope. are you surprised that it resonates with so many women?

    >> i think we've -- we were both really surprised, wanded to write it for herself and a few friends and when it took off it completely surprised us.

    >> you wrote something recently in "the guardian," journalists ask if fans turn up on our doorsteps asking silly questions. journalists do. do we have a dungeon or red room of pain? well, do you?

    >> maybe, but we've got a very ordinary small house and there isn't a lot of room for -- we barely have room for the ironing, never mind all the equipment.

    >> so your life hasn't changed a ton?

    >> so far -- this has all happened so quickly. life goes on. we have kids at school. we have to walk the dog and do the shopping and all that stuff still happens. i have to say not much has happened.

    >> your sons are teenagers. have they read the book?

    >> no. it's not written for boys or men anyway. it's written for women so i don't think it would be their sort of book even when they are old enough to read it.

    >> let's talk about your book "crusher." this process of seeing the wife write a book, inspired you. you're a tv writer but never written a novel.

    >> i'm a tv writer and wrote a lot of episodes and felt very satisfied except in tv you're constrained by the format, have to hit the commercial breaks and length and stick to the budget, and then i saw her writing her book and realized she had this freedom and doing what she really wanted to do and doing it her own way and i envied that. i had forgotten that joy of just doing it just for fun, and so i wanted to capture some of that when i started writing "crusher."

    >> in your book your protagonist is a teenage boy, and his stepfather ends up dead and is a tv writer. a little close to home there.

    >> i got bored listening to myself talk constantly about all the things i was going to do. in chapter one the hero's father talks about what he's going to do and comes to a sticky end. punishing myself for all the time i wasted. so to find out who murders his dad.

    >> "fifty shades of grey" going to be made a movie, as you mentioned. who is christian grey? we hear ryan gosling .

    >> all sorts of crazy rumors. when i deny one, it just starts another, so my official line is no comment.

    >> do you know?

    >> i have no idea.

    >> niall leonard, the book is "crusher," thanks so much.

    >> thank you, savannah.

TODAY books
updated 9/10/2012 5:50:08 PM ET 2012-09-10T21:50:08

A son seeks to solve the mystery of his father's brutal killing in Niall Leonard's gripping thriller, “Crusher.” Here's an excerpt.

It really was ringing, his phone—my phone—vibrating so wildly it was about to dance off my bedside table. No glass of orange juice. I picked up the phone and squinted at the screen. Number withheld. I pressed “answer.”

“Finn Maguire,” I croaked.

“Be at the Iron Bridge five p.m. Tell ’em I sent you.” It took me a second to register who was calling, but then I recognized the sneer in James’s voice.

“Five p.m.? Today?” Dad’s body was going to be laid out in the undertaker’s today. From the brief, angry pause before James replied I got the impression he didn’t like having his instructions questioned.

“You want this f__king job or not?”

“Yeah. I mean, thanks,” I said. “I’ll be there.” He hung up.

I checked the screen for the time. It was just gone seven. I’d always supposed professional criminals slept late and did their gangstering at night. But maybe James was just going to bed. He’d done me a favour anyway; spring sunshine was streaming in the window, and my legs felt twitchy. I hadn’t been running for a few days, and I needed to make up for lost time.

Delacorte Press

While I ran I thought about the arrangements I’d made for Dad’s funeral. The undertaker, Mr. Stone, was a pale, podgy guy in his late twenties, with beautifully manicured hands and a practised sympathetic expression that looked even graver when I’d mentioned how skint I was. He’d asked me if I intended burial or cremation, and I’d gone for cremation. Dad had always found graveyards depressing, and I presumed he hadn’t wanted to end up in one. He’d never visited the graves of his own parents, and didn’t feel guilty about it—he said once that he’d done his bit while they were alive and could still appreciate it. The undertaker explained smoothly that cremation required another doctor’s signature, but that he would see to all that. I guessed that service would be added to his bill as well.

One of Elsa Kendrick’s leaflets had explained the government grants that people with no income could get to help with funerals. The money went direct to the undertaker, but it didn’t cover everything, and I got the impression that under his sad, calm exterior Mr. Stone was taking every opportunity to bump up his bill. Of course, most people burying relatives don’t want to be thought stingy, and are too embarrassed to haggle, but I didn’t care what people thought. Especially when it came to my dad—finding a bargain was almost a vocation, for him. I sensed Stone the undertaker was getting a bit fed up with me insisting everything should be done on the cheap—like when I went for a Monday service because it cost less than one on a Saturday. When I asked if he was related to any of the Parkers, he explained smoothly there were no Parkers any more. The firm had been bought out years ago by a big national chain. I could see why big business had got involved: a market where the product never goes out of fashion and the clients think it’s bad manners to haggle. Not that I envied Stone his steady job.

I got back home from my run forty seconds over my average time, and scolded myself mentally for slacking off. After a shower and a shave I ate my breakfast out of the bowl I’d left on the table. I rinsed it out first—I’m not a total slob.

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I still wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for the funeral. I had no idea what this job at the Iron Bridge restaurant would pay, presuming they gave me a job. For all my attempts to cut corners, Stone’s written estimate suggested I’d end up owing him a few hundred quid. I still had most of the money McGovern had given me, but I was saving it for a piss-up for Dad’s old mates at the Weaver’s Arms. I was pretty sure that Dad would have preferred that to being cremated in a posher coffin.

But now the whole business of money was really starting to get to me. The bank, the benefits people, they’d have to be told. What would happen when I couldn’t pay the mortgage? Would the bank take the house back? Or was it my house now? Did I inherit it from Dad when he died, or was he supposed to leave it to me in his will? I didn’t even know if he’d made a will. Jesus . . . maybe it would end up belonging to my mother. Where the hell would I live then?

If Dad had ever made a will, I had a good idea where I might find it.

I pushed open the door of his room. The curtains were still open. Dad always made his bed right after he got up, but that was usually as neat as he got in here. Shirts and jeans of varying degrees of dirtiness were still piled on his bedside chair. His chest of drawers was strewn with copper coins not worth the trouble of gathering up, old pens, and dried-up bottles of antiperspirant he hadn’t thrown away. The room still smelled of him, I noticed, but the scent was fading, succumbing to the smell of gathering dust. I transferred the clothes to the bed, dragged the chair over to the wardrobe, and climbed up onto it. Under a crushed, musty collection of hats was a Chinese fibre suitcase with two clasps, one busted. I grabbed the handle, dragged it down, plonked it onto the bed and flicked the good catch open.

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The case was crammed with documents, some in manila folders, others in envelopes, in no particular order that I could see. The first envelope I looked into held yellowing official certificates. The topmost had the word “BIRTH” at the top. In a column on the left I made out my birth name, Finn Pearce Grey. The next document had the word “MARRIAGE” at the top. Noel Patrick Maguire, actor, to Lesley Helen Grey, actress. I put the certificates back. They were no use to me.

A second bulging manila envelope held a whole wodge of printouts, all similar. I recognized the bank logo on the top left-hand corner, but the entries and the figures and the endlessly repeated phrases merged and blurred as I stared at them. I did make out three words that kept reappearing at the head of each page: Interest-Only Repayments. I stuffed them back in the envelope and went on searching. After half an hour my eyes were aching and my head was pounding and I hadn’t seen the word Will anywhere.

I stuffed the envelopes and folders back into the suitcase, flipped the lid shut and clicked the catch. I was going to shove the case back on top of the wardrobe, but decided not to bother; I’d probably need it again soon. I slid the case under Dad’s bed, picked up his shirts and stuffed them into the laundry basket. Then I wondered why. He wasn’t going to wear them, and I didn’t want them. But I wasn’t ready to stuff them into a bin bag and dump them in the doorway of a charity shop. I wasn’t being sentimental, though part of me wished I felt that way. I just couldn’t be arsed.

Excerpt from Chapter Six of Crusher, copyright © 2012 by Niall Leonard. Used by permission of Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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