Sharon Stone has released a new memoir, "The Beauty of Living Twice." TNS
During an extended hospitalisation in 2001, when Sharon Stone was being treated for a stroke and a subarachnoid haemorrhage that had bled into her brain, head and spine, she writes that she was visited by her grandmother Lela, who had been dead for 30 years.
“This is where it gets weird,” Stone writes in a new memoir, “The Beauty of Living Twice,” which Atlantic Books published in the US last month (and Allen & Unwin published in the UK yesterday). Lela came to convey a warning: “Whatever you do, don’t move your neck.” It is one of several scenes from her life that Stone, the 63-year-old star of films like “Basic Instinct,” “Casino” and “The Quick and the Dead,” relates with candour and sardonic humour. Despite her long career in Hollywood playing femme fatales and women of mystery — even in recent television series like Mosaic and Ratched — her memoir is a more episodic account of her life and upbringing, particularly her youth in modest Meadville, Pennsylvania, and the indelible but troubled family that raised her there.
Why did you decide to write this memoir?
I had gone around trying to get my short stories published and everyone told me, nobody wants to read short stories. I think what they really meant was, we really just want to get up in your private life. I didn’t want to do that at the time. Then my friend Kael (the author J Kael Weston), who wrote The Mirror Test, recommended that his editor Tim O’Connell, at (US publisher) Knopf, take a look. In the meantime, I’d written a letter to Janklow & Nesbit about getting an agent. So Knopf and another book company started offering me deals. I thought I would learn more from Sonny Mehta (the revered Knopf publisher who died in 2019) and Tim. Sonny read my stuff and said that he thought I was his next Irish storyteller.
Did you have a particular writing process as you worked on it?
When I was really close on it, I took two films in New York and every day off, I went to Knopf and I sat in an office and wrote. I’d take some food or order some food up and spend five, eight, 12, 15 hours and just write.
Were you concerned about getting recognised in their offices?
It was sleeting and snowing in the worst of winter. I’d slog down there in my hat and my down coat with my computer and my stuff. Nobody gave a (expletive) about me.
You reveal a lot of intensely personal information in the book about your family and your childhood, including details of how you and your sister, Kelly, were physically abused by a grandfather. Did you discuss any of this with your surviving relatives before publishing the book?
My sister and I made this decision together. We spoke to my mother and at first she was very stoic and wrote me a letter about how disconcerting all this information was. The whole pious, horrified, I-don’t-really-want-to-talk-about-it-directly kind of thing. Then my sister got loaded when my mom was staying with her and really went for it with my mom. And my mom had a major breakthrough. When I finished the book, I read it to my mother over a three-day period. And I had the flu at the time. I was in bed and she got in bed with me as I finished the book, and then I recorded an hour and a half of her talking. And then I rewrote a lot of the book. That is when I dedicated the book to her.
Are you apprehensive about people learning these things about you when the book is published?
If you don’t, people will make it all up for you. There’s been pretty much an adult lifetime of people making up my life for me. I’ve had quite a bit of tummy trouble waiting for this book to come. Now I’m going to go out in the most menacing, disruptive, psychologically aggressive period that our world has been in since the Sixties and be vulnerable and open. I understand that I’ll be met with a certain amount of that. But I don’t want to gird my loins. I don’t want to be defensive. I want to prepare to be open and present. Because that’s the purpose of my journey.
You also don’t dwell much on your past marriages. You do say, though, that you had to sign a confidentiality agreement with your second husband, the journalist Phil Bronstein.
Yes, before we married, I was asked to sign a particular type of confidentiality agreement.
Did that seem like an unusual arrangement to have to enter into?
I would just say that you’re a very smart guy, you’re a journalist, and if you want to know anything on that subject, I’m sure you can find that out all by yourself.
Do you plan to move away from acting to focus more on your writing?
Well, I’ve actually let my agents and management and all those people go. I only really want to be hired now by directors whose choice is me. I don’t really want to be pitched anymore. I don’t want to be given to people because I can finance their film. I don’t want to be shopped out. I don’t want other people to decide what material I should see or not. So I’m only taking offers directly.
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