Best known today for his exciting blockbuster novels, Sidney Sheldon was the author of The Best Laid Plans, Nothing Lasts Forever, The Stars Shine Down, The Doomsday Conspiracy, Memories of Midnight, The Sands of Time, Windmills of the Gods, If Tomorrow Comes, Master of the Game, Rage of Angels, Bloodline, A Stranger in the Mirror, and The Other Side of Midnight. Almost all of them were number-one international bestsellers. His first book, The Naked Face, was acclaimed by the New York Times as "the best first mystery of the year" and received an Edgar Award. Most of his novels became major feature films or TV miniseries, and there are more than 275 million copies of his books in print throughout the world.
Before he became a novelist, Sheldon had already won a Tony Award for Broadway's Redhead and an Academy Award for The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer. He has written the screenplays for twenty-three motion pictures, including Easter Parade (with Judy Garland) and Annie Get Your Gun. In addition, he penned six other Broadway hits and created three long-running television series, including Hart to Hart and I Dream of Jeannie, which he also produced. A writer who delighted millions with his award-winning plays, movies, novels, and television shows, Sidney Sheldon reigned as one of the most popular storytellers of all time.
Author biography courtesy of Time Warner.
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Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Sheldon:
"When I was 17, I was happy to be working in a drugstore, because I could steal enough sleeping pills to commit suicide."
"I have bi-polar syndrome and was not aware what was disturbing me until I received an Academy Award and went to see a psychiatrist."
"I have worked 7 days a week as long as I can remember. A business manager of mine gave me $25 worth of tennis lessons. I went down to my tennis court and we played once a week. I really enjoyed it. Playing with the pro one day, my teacher said to me that the money had been spent and did I want to continue. I started to say yes, then I realized that I didn't want to be out on the tennis court. I wanted to be in my office writing. That was 25 years ago and I haven't been on my tennis court since."
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In the fall of 2005, Sidney Sheldon took some time out to talk with us about some of his favorite book and authors, and how he got his start in "the business."
What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer?
"You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe. His use of the English language was magic.
What are your all-time favorite books?Of Mice & Men and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Old Man & The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
Tom Swift by Victor Appleton
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers films -- Because of the lush aura of fantasy about them
Gone With The Wind -- It put me in another era
Citizen Kane -- Ground breaking narrative -- a masterpiece
The In-Laws -- The original was the funniest movie ever made.
What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
I enjoy country music, especially the Glen Campbell songs, "Wichita Lineman" and "Gentle On My Mind." In another genre, I listen to classical music, with Franz Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody a favorite. Show tunes from Rogers and Hammerstein and Rogers and Hart are also at the top of my list.
Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
Yes, I close all the doors and windows so there are no noises or interruptions.
What are you working on now?
A novel, Dead Line, which should be out in 18 months.
Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?
I worked in Hollywood as a reader and a would-be writer for about 6 years before I sold my first story. I wrote a story called "Orchids for Virginia." A director, Eddy Dmytryk, wanted to buy it to make at RKO. I was thrilled because I needed the money. Dore Schary, who was head of RKO, called me to his office. He would not approve the sale. I was shocked and I asked why not. Because, he said, I will not make a film where a man tries to murder his wife. He handed the story back to me. Some 10 years later I changed the title to The Other Side of Midnight and had it published as a book.
What tips or advice do you have for writers still looking to be discovered?
Don't give up. There are too many nay-sayers out there who will try to discourage you. Don't listen to them. The only one who can make you give up is yourself.
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|Sidney Sheldon Home
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|In Our Other Stores|
Signed, First Editions by Sidney Sheldon|
|Roman Candle (play), 1960|
|The Naked Face, 1970|
|The Other Side of Midnight, 1974|
|A Stranger in the Mirror, 1976|
|Rage of Angels, 1980|
|Master of the Game, 1982|
|If Tomorrow Comes, 1985|
|Windmills of the Gods, 1987|
|The Sands of Time, 1988|
|Memories of Midnight, 1990|
|The Doomsday Conspiracy, 1991|
|The Stars Shine Down, 1992|
|Nothing Lasts Forever, 1994|
|Morning, Noon and Night, 1995|
|Adventures of Drippy the Runaway Raindrop (coauthor, juvenile), 1996|
|The Best Laid Plans, 1997|
|Tell Me Your Dreams, 1998|
|The Sky Is Falling, 2000|
|Are You Afraid of the Dark?, 2004|
|The Other Side of Me: A Memoir, 2005|