Sherri Crichton on Losing the Love of Her Life While Pregnant: ‘It Was a Long Pathway to Get Here’

Sherri Crichton on Losing the Love of Her Life While Pregnant: ‘It Was a Long Pathway to Get Here’ featured image
John Russo

As CEO of multimedia company CrichtonSun, Sherri Crichton is the driving force behind preserving and expanding the legacy of her late husband, author, screenwriter, filmmaker and all-around Hollywood legend, Michael Crichton. The only author to have simultaneously topped the charts with the number-one book, movie and TV series twice, Michael’s enduring impact lives on in countless ways—including through the 250 million copies his book have sold worldwide. (Some other outstanding stats: His ER series grossed $3.3 billion over 15 seasons, while the Jurassic Park franchise has garnered more than $10 billion globally.) 

Since Michael’s death in 2008, Sherri has dedicated herself to not only safeguarding his existing catalog, but also introducing his unpublished works and never-before-seen projects to new audiences. Most recently, Sherri was responsible for spearheading a groundbreaking deal to bring one of Michael’s unfinished manuscripts to life by partnering with world-renowned author James Patterson in the highly anticipated novel, Eruption, which released last week. 

Sherri also played an instrumental role helping to facilitate a partnership with Blackstone Publishing to reissue eight novels written by Michael under his pseudonym, John Lange. This summer, her vision extends to the silver screen as well, having contributed creative feedback to projects such as Universal Pictures’ upcoming remake of Michael’s critically acclaimed film, Twisters.

While Sherri’s part in shaping the future of a legacy is integral, as she recently shared with us it’s also, obviously, very personal. Sherri was pregnant when Michael passed away and has spend a good portion of the past 15 years raising their son while continuing the legacy. “It’s been bittersweet,” she shares. “But a lot more sweet than bitter.” 

Where’s your mind right now as you roll out Michael’s projects?

I have to tell you, I’m so excited. First of all, the journey…let’s just say it has not been a short journey. It’s been a very long journey, particularly with this book. To see it finally come to fruition and to finally be able to put it out in the world and have Michael’s fans and Jim’s fans experience it is amazing. Plus, there are so many people—new generations like my son—who will be able to experience a piece of work that Michael had been working on for so long. It’s quite a heartwarming journey for me. To see it realized now is really exciting.

It was a very long pathway to getting here, but it is unusual that every time you turn around, there’s some new discovery. Michael left a lot of Easter eggs in a lot of places. There are all these fun facts that we keep discovering. It’s exciting. I’m really looking forward to going to New York. I’ve had a very busy few weeks, but it’s wonderful. This collaboration with Jim has been extraordinary.

Sherri Crichton 3
John Russo

What was the hardest part for you? 

It was such a tragedy losing the love of my life…there are still no words to express that. Yet, I was also in such a joyful place at the time, because we were having our baby. It was so scary to be able to even comprehend having our child without Michael. I didn’t know where to start. I had all the questions that a soon-to-be mother goes through: “What do you want the delivery room to look like? Who do you want in the room? Do you want a doula?” All of the questions. Then, all of a sudden, I was faced with all of those things all by myself.

I refused to allow myself to think that Michael was truly gone, because that was too much to comprehend. I kept him as close as I could to me—he is always in my heart. That was really the only way that I could see the light through what was my new dawn in that progression of us…and I say “us” because it feels like he never left during that time. It still feels like he is very, very close to me.

Fortunately, he was meticulously organized and he charted everything, grafted everything. He left so many notes and pieces of his life behind. Then, very early on, it was like, “OK, not only am I going to raise our son, but I’m going to truly find out the man behind this man that I was married to.” I knew a very beautiful chapter of Michael. It was his warmth and vulnerability that I fell in love with.

But now, I needed to know that work side. In all of the discovery, it became a necessity to form his archive. I’m not going to say all the answers are there as if he were here, but there are so many answers. I was able to have a chart, a document where I could pinpoint whatever Michael was talking about in any article or any interview he gave. We take his quote and we put it in there and let’s start charting that. Then his children could actually be able to say, “Oh, I wonder what dad thought about X or Y.” It wasn’t somebody else’s interpretation of what they thought Michael would say or do.

Anyway, it was bittersweet, but actually it was more sweet that bitter. It was really a love journey. I fell in love with a side of him that I already thought I just knew and loved, but it turns out that there was so much more. That was exciting. It continues to be exciting every day. There is always something new that pops up.

As someone who works at home, I have to ask: Do you have an area in your house where it’s just work, or is it all-encompassing?

Michael literally worked wherever he was, but I have an office. It was the office that he worked out of, which is actually a home. Then, we had our home in Hawaii and then there is the storage facility. That’s a long way of saying that, luckily, my house is really just a home—even though I work out of it a lot. But I really leave the heavy lifting over at the office and so much of it has already been through an archival process now for years.

The meat of the brains of the business is stored in Iron Mountain. Everything else, luckily it’s very neat and very clean and things can be recreated. In fact, I just recently recreated it as if Michael were still working there, which was very emotional. Putting the pieces of that back together, to recreate his office exactly how it was…it almost felt like I was recreating something for the Smithsonian. That was very emotional. It also is beautiful because Michael got so much joy out of working; I always feel like he’s just in the other room. He’s just in the other room writing and creating.

All of this is, obviously, emotional. What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed? I know hiking was a big part of your lives, is it still a big part?

I do, but I don’t think I’m as good at it as Michael was. Michael really charted everything. He charted what looks like an Excel sheet of today—how many pages he wrote, how many words per day, how many pages per day, how many changes per week He would chart everything. Then that would be one chart. There would be another chart for vacation and downtime! He was very meticulous at being rather disciplined, to make sure that he would stay balanced.

Our son is in school, so I like connecting to the work during the days, and then I stay very connected to my son when he’s not in school. Also, we love the outdoors. We’re big bikers and hikers, and all-around nature-seekers. We really do try to watch a lot of films, and my son is a movie buff. We have a dog, and he keeps us very active. I try to take care of myself, I really do. Stay with friends, go to museums, read books.

Sherri Crichton 2
John Russo

Although I have to say, this project has been all-consuming. People always ask, “What are you reading now, Sherri?” I’m like, “Well, there’s always another draft!” Now, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else experience the book, and I’ll spend some time being peaceful.

My son and I went on a recent trip to Hawaii, and we did some hiking. I had the nicest time. He was bored, because I think that’s what happens to 15-year-olds. I said to him the next day, “Honey, let’s go back, let’s go back.” He’s like, “I don’t want to go back. All you do is just sit there and stare.” But isn’t it great just to relax like that, and take a break, and not have an agenda? I’m looking forward to that.

You alluded to the fact that you have some travel coming up with going to New York and everywhere else. Do you have a relaxation routine on the plane? Are you a person who works on a plane or can you sleep on a plane? 

No! I don’t sleep; I almost want to be awake to enjoy the nothingness, the quiet. Nobody can reach me. I can’t reach anybody else. I try not to do to-do lists or anything. I just try to relax and catch a movie or a show that I haven’t seen, or actually pick up magazines. It’s my favorite thing to do! Just grab my stack of magazines and flip through them. I’m actually a magazine person more than a digital person. I love paper. I’m very tactile. I like dog-earing. I like ripping the pages. I like that. I will have my stack of magazines by my side and, before you know it, the trip is over.

As someone who works at a magazine, that’s a nice thing to hear.

Oh, I love a magazine. I wish it would come back more. They need to reintroduce more because I really feel very passionate for all of us that we have got to step away from our devices and get back in nature and get back to being connected. We need to not be so fast, not be so bombarded with so many things at all times. We need to read that article from front to back, beginning to the end. I’m not here for the CliffsNotes. 

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