The Idea: Fifty Shades and an Intrigued Sister

In February 2012, I was on assignment for New York Live on NBC. A reporter and I were talking about this book we had just read called Fifty Shades of Grey. The books were making their way around New York City through word of mouth. The television hype hadn’t begun yet.One group that helped spread the word about FSOG was Divalyssious Moms, a community for women trying to bridge the gap between their pre-baby lifestyle and their post baby life. These women were wild for the series. So much so that Lyss Stern, the CEO of DivaMoms, hosted the #DivaMomsBookClub launch party for Fifty Shades Freed where E. L. James was in attendance for a book signing, reading and Q&A.

I produced a piece on the book and its impact on these women. I mean, here were savvy, sophisticated Manhattan moms with extraordinary husbands, fawning over this fictional character, Christian Grey. They were talking about him like he was real and I wondered, “What would they do if Christian Grey walked in this room and offered them a trip to the red room of pain?”

I was pretty sure I knew the answer.

A short while later, my sister, Nicole, and I were talking about some of our favorite book characters. We were both huge fans of New Adult Romance and were constantly recommending books to each other. During one particular conversation we were talking about some of our favorite alpha-male leads like Brayden Carmichael from On Dublin Street and Gideon Cross from Bared To You. Of course, the heroine is young, single and in so many of the books we were reading, a twenty-something post grad with understated beauty and converse sneakers.

Here’s the thing about the male characters in these books: These kind of men a) Don’t exist in real life and b) Would never come knocking on our doors if they did. Yet I still had to ask: “What would you do if this character did enter your life?” We were both married with kids and well passed our fresh-faced, All-Star wearing phase.

My sister pondered the question and the conversation ensued: Where would we meet him? How would we react if he wanted us? Under what circumstances would we even consider going through with it? Are we in-love with him?

I told her I started writing a book based on this premise but it wasn’t going anywhere. She gave me the boost to continue and I started to write with her in mind. She had one request: Don’t make it predictable.

When I finished the first draft, I handed it over. She trashed a third of the book, told me she hated some of the character names and, even more, hated one of the main characters.

As my older sister, she has bossed me around my entire life. Each time, I’ve rebelled. Oddly enough, I was not offended or disheartened by her criticism. The book really was written for her. If she didn’t like it than I had to change it. So, I did.

I erased thirty thousand words and reworked what I did keep. Luckily, she liked the revisions but she still had changes. This went on forever until one day she said it was done.

SO there you have it. If you like the book, You’re Welcome.

If you hate it…blame Nicole.