20 Feb Memoirs of the Winter Olympics.
The Winter Olympics enters its final week as I, Tonya, the iced-up true story of a beauty and a beast is showing at a cinema near you. I, Tonya is a reminder that perception is everything and moving forward with your memoir too early can seriously damage your chances at a slice of box office gold.
The poster girl.
Nancy Kerrigan, US Olympic figure skating hopeful was smashed on the knee by a man with a club in Detroit in 1994, just before the Lillehammer Winter Olympics. The man was a bodyguard for Tonya Harding, another brilliant skater, and Kerrigan’s Olympic rival. I, Tonya is her story.
The two came from working-class backgrounds and Nancy was pretty, graceful, and adored by her family. Tonya was less chiselled and lacked finesse but she made up for it with raw power and fearlessness. Harding grew up in a trailer with a mother she says abused her. Blue-collar backgrounds and skating were all they had in common.
As pin-up and victim, Nancy went on to make millions from endorsements, skating tours, and TV appearances. However, her autobiography, In My Own Words came before all the good stuff that would have made the movie I, Nancy a possibility. Nancy went too early.
Here’s what happened in her life afterwards.
In 2000, Nancy’s father won $1million in the lottery but died of a heart-attack in 2010, deemed to have been brought on by Nancy’s brother, Mark pulling him to the floor in a drunken chokehold over an argument about a phone call. Perhaps Mark was also angry that his own parents had tried to sue him for $100,000 a couple of years earlier. Mark was sentenced to two and a half years in jail. Nancy herself has admitted to an eating disorder triggered she says, by the events in Detroit in 1994. She has also been caught on camera twice saying not-so-nice-things.
The model of imperfection.
Tonya Harding (now Price) has been married three times, producing a sex-tape with husband number one. In 2011 she set the world record for salt flatland racing. She has also managed a wrestling team, been a professional boxer, performed in a band, earned money woodworking, and goes hunting with a bow and arrow.
Tonya Harding’s autobiography delivered. The Tonya Tapes, released in 2008, has everything from her ‘powhitetrash’ upbringing and sexual abuse, to beatings by her mother, and rape by her husband. Enough time has passed with enough material to make a movie and we expect there will be more to this story.
Lately, she’s been seen on the red carpet alongside Margo Robbie and Alison Janney promoting the movie of her life.
Your whole life story.
It’s never too early to begin your autobiography but a lifetime is a long time and things tend to keep on happening. Which is why Johnnybio has been divided into four individual chapters that can be joined together as you write. Begin with your childhood then write about your twenties and thirties, then Mid Life, and finally, Sixty Up.