Sheldon's longtime agent, Mort Janklow (whose clients range from Jackie Collins to David McCullough), says that Sheldon's rare ability to spin stories that appeal to both men and women, including readers “everywhere from Taiwan to Albania,” has kept him in the top tier of commercial writers commanding multimillion-dollar advances. “Amazingly, he's still right up there,” Janklow says, adding that Sheldon isn't likely to retire any day soon. “He's not a golfer, he's not a boatsman. But he loves writing. I think that's his way of staying young, with it, involved in the world.”
For his part, Sheldon says he writes mainly to entertain the “housewives, doctors, waiters, bus drivers and professors” who make up his audience. Hundreds of them have stopped him in the street or written him letters—often because, like Sheldon himself, they got a little too close to his characters.
“When I wrote Rage of Angels,” Sheldon says, “I let a little boy die, and I started getting hate mail. ‘How could you let him die? What's the matter with you? That's so cruel!’ One woman wrote to me and gave me her phone number in New York. She said, ‘I can't sleep—call me.’”
Eventually, the appeals won him over.
“When I wrote the miniseries,” Sheldon says, “I let the boy live.”