The Christian Grey Complex

Fret no longer, fellow book whores. We’ve watched the trailer on YouTube numerous times (you know at least a thousand views belong to you). We’ve played out the sexy anthem by Taylor Swift and that One Direction dropout who, by the way, ties the record with Michael Bolton for hitting the highest ball-yanking note.

We’ve waited long enough.

Fifty Shades Darker—the second installment in E.L. James’s bestselling trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey—hits theaters this weekend right in time for Valentine’s Day. And what better way to show the one you love just how much you love them than by dragging their ass to the movie theater so you can let another man ravage your imagination? Bravo, Universal Pictures. Not only is that great marketing, but you’ll probably manage to flush a good 30% of relationships down the toilet before the holiday, thanks in part to a little thing I like to call The Christian Grey Complex.

the·christian·grey·complex, n. A man’s compulsion to undermine the fictional character in order to make himself feel less inadequate.

With the impending release (no pun intended), I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had a little Christian on the brain this week, and don’t you worry girlfriend…that’s okay. What’s not okay is when the movie ad pops up on the TV and your dad begs the question during a nice family dinner (and in front of your five-year-old, mind you)—what’s the appeal? What is it with women and their infatuation with Christian Grey?

Hold the phone. Let’s take a step back, shall we? I think you’d agree that there are fifty shades of wrong written in those last two sentences, the obvious being the words dad and Christian Grey, because they should never appear in the same sentence together, let alone in any conversation or figment of my imagination.

Naturally I went on the defensive when my old man went into one of his rants on our damaged hero. Because that’s what us readers do! We defend our book boyfriends! Then again, he hasn’t been the first man to pose the question. We’ve heard it all before: What’s the big deal? Why do women like those books? He’s fictional. It’s “mommy porn.” It’s not real. I hate to break it to you, men—neither is the stuff you watch on PornHub, but do you hear us saying anything?

Yes, it’s cheesy, and the writing is just okay. Some critics say it plays on women’s insecurities and condones abusive relationships. CUE THE EXAGGERATED EYE ROLL. If you want relationship advice, pick up Relationships for Dummies. Don’t expect it to change your life, or inspire you to run off to the desert to hum Kumbaya songs in a sweat lodge. It’s not that kind of a book.

Ladies, do me a favor. The next time someone decides to judge you for your choice in literature or book boyfriend, don’t be afraid to use the handy middle finger. Don’t ever feel shamed by the phrase mommy porn. And for those who’ve reached cougar status by joining the 30+ club, embrace it! We all need a little Christian Grey in our lives.

Therefore, men—get over your Christian Grey Complex. We know he’s not real, and that’s the appeal. And in case you’re still wondering what all of the fuss is about, here it is. Ask and you shall receive.

And ladies—you’re welcome.

*Note: Yes, I know this isn’t Jamie Dornan. It’s Matt Bomer. That’s because dear Matty was my Christian Grey, starring in my imagination in every way, shape, and form…and playing the part so very well.  

The Struggle is Real

I’m in a major struggle right now. To be honest, I’ve been struggling with this ever since I started writing Never Stop Falling. But before I go into that, I need to talk about this first: dream casts.

The beauty about reading fiction is that it frees our imagination, allowing us an escape from the real world even if it’s only temporary. And one of the things I love to do when I read a book is dream cast the characters. Every time I pick up a book and I’m introduced to a character, I’m already thinking of real-life people that could fit the bill.

The fun part about it is that we all could read the same book but have completely different ideas as to who could fit the mold of each character in the story. A while back, I got a group of us to read Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, and when we met to discuss the book, it was really interesting to see who each person imagined as Travis Maddox. Colton Haynes was my Travis who, coincidentally, seems to be a popular choice among readers of the book. I remember hearing Jason Momoa’s name somewhere in that conversation, and me thinking no way! But then I figured, that’s the great thing about all of this—we can imagine who we want and still enjoy the same story, which is the goal that every author wants to achieve.

Anyone who reads romance LOVES to dream cast the hero. Come on, people; let’s face it. Whether we’re single, engaged, or married, we love our book boyfriends. And these are some of my favorites in their real-life form (and in all their beautiful glory):

Christian Grey, Fifty Shades of GreyMatt Bomer

Yes, I was one of the people that signed the petition to get Matt Bomer the role of Christian after Jamie Dornan was announced to play our favorite billionaire dominant. Don’t judge.

Kellan Kyle, ThoughtlessNick Bateman

Miles Archer, Ugly LoveNick Bateman

Bennett Ryan, Beautiful BastardNick Bateman

Okay, so I was on a Nick Bateman kick for a few books. Can you blame me?

Oliver Lore, Dark Wild NightJeff Kasser

Because who doesn’t love a guy with glasses?

Noah Calhoun, The NotebookRyan Gosling

I saw the trailer for the movie even before I read the book, so I didn’t have to work that hard for this one.

 

So based on all of that manly goodness I just presented to you, what can possibly be my struggle? 

I can’t dream cast Nicholas Kelley. 

I can’t dream cast my own freaking character. After spending two years with him, writing him, knowing every part of him inside and out (don’t judge), I can’t think of anyone out there that could do him justice.

And I’ve tried. Trust me, I have. When I started writing, I thought that a young Henry Cavill might work. But then I figured he’s way older than Nick, so then Scott Eastwood came to mind. But then I felt that Scott looked too “rugged” to be Nick. And there’d be days in which I’d browse the internet for hours, searching high and low for the perfect Nick to no avail. Even today, I thought I might have found “the one” in Ryan Guzman. But even after I pinned him to my board on Pinterest, I took another look and finally decided he didn’t fit. 

Now that I think about it, perhaps I haven’t been able to dream cast him because there really is no guy out there that could fit into his shoes; because he only exists in my head.

With that being said, I’m really looking forward to hearing about everyone’s choice for Nick when they read the book. Maybe one of you will finally find “the one” for me!

In the mean time, if you’re interested in finding out who I dream casted for all the other characters in my book, check out this board on my Pinterest:  Never Stop Falling