|Author Sidney Sheldon|
A few days ago, a reviewer of my book Lust, Money & Murder said “Not since Sidney Sheldon has a male author captured the female perspective so well. You’ll be hooked!”
I was deeply moved by this comment. So moved, in fact, that I decided to write a post about Mr. Sheldon.
Because Sidney Sheldon was my favorite contemporary author, and he was my hero. It’s not at all surprising that he had a tremendous influence on my writing.
Born in 1917, Sidney Sheldon first worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood, winning an Academy Award, and then went on to become one of the world’s bestselling novelists, penning 19 books over the last 35 years of his life. Sidney Sheldon books have been translated into over 50 different languages and sold over 300 million copies. He died at the ripe age of 89, still writing.
Sidney Sheldon was not my hero because of all the books he sold. Sidney Sheldon was my hero for the countless hours of entertainment he gave me and millions of other lucky readers. Curling up in a chair and reading the latest Sidney Sheldon book was the literary equivalent of eating a moist slice of Death by Chocolate cake, an experience you relished every moment of and left you hungry for more.
His plots were packed with twists and surprises. Do you remember in The Other Side of Midnight when you found out that the obnoxious bum that came on to the hero was actually a decorated air force pilot? Or when the assassin in Memories of Midnight turned out not to be one of the three men you suspected, but the meek office boy the hero befriended? Of course you do—these literary moments are unforgettable.
But Sidney Sheldon’s books provided far more than entertaining plot twists. His heroes were truly inspirational, strong women who also maintained their softness and femininity. Even though I'm a man, his books gave me hope when I was down, inner strength when I was weak, and gave me the courage to pick myself up again after my most dismal failures. His books were so engaging that I could become completely absorbed in them, so much so that when I finished, I often had new perspective on things.
Who can forget Jennifer Parker’s struggle to become a successful lawyer in a men’s world in Rage of Angels? Or Tracey Whitney’s determination to avenge her mother’s death in If Tomorrow Comes? Sidney Sheldon’s characters never gave up, yet even the most ambitious protagonists always showed tenderness and compassion.
But probably the biggest reason that Sidney Sheldon is my hero that he wrote to entertain. Unlike many authors, he did not put on airs, show off his knowledge of obscure French phrases, or try to impress you with how beautifully he could describe a sunset. He entertained you. Period. He nailed you to the first page and kept you turning them all the way the end of the book, increasing the tension to the point where you’d stay up all night just to know how it all turned out!
This is precisely what I aim to do in my books. Whether I succeed or not is up to readers to decide. But it’s not surprising that many people see similarities to my work and Sidney Sheldon's.
For Sidney Sheldon was not only my hero.
He was my greatest teacher.