When you think about the film "The Wizard of Oz," do you think a lot about the wizard himself? He’s back there, behind the curtain, making things go, but Oz the place is so much more mesmerizing.
I never thought much about John Stamos, to be honest. I didn’t watch "General Hospital" or "Full House" or "St. Elsewhere." I know his name and I’ve seen his handsome face, but I would have never thought to read his autobiography. Funny how life can drop things into your lap sometimes.
Daphne Young is a local writer who helped Stamos pen "If You Would Have Told Me: A Memoir." A veteran of the local no-profit scene, Young met the actor after writing a speech for him and the two clicked. For Young, it was initially just part of her day job, but it's turned into an interesting and highly entertaining new opportunity.
At 52, Young is just old enough to have missed out on many of Stamos’ TV exploits as well, but it was helpful to her in helping him to tell his story.
“I was a little outside of the age group (to be a typical Stamos fan) and I really didn’t watch a lot of TV during certain periods of my life. I didn’t have a wealth of information and background (on Stamos), which I think helped in some way. It was fresh and I could approach it in a fresh way,” Young says.
During their initial meeting at a workplace charity event for a nonprofit Young previously worked for, Stamos mentioned that he would like to “get in touch” about some potential writing projects. As a self-avowed “terrible networker,” Young didn’t think much of it until receiving some flowers and a phone call from Stamos soon after their initial meeting.
“He said, ‘Hey, I’ve got some writing projects for you,' and that’s kind of how it started,” says Young.
Young had done some speech-writing before while working on scripts for speakers at fundraising events and has a background in writing after attending the University of Arizona as a graduate student in creative writing. She even wrote her first book when she was just 3years old called "Sharp Stuff," although it was spelled “S-A-R-P Stuff.” It was about the different sharp things you should be careful of when you are little.
“I wrote little stories (growing up). I had a mean math teacher and a mean bus driver, so I wrote a little story called 'Frank and Slava' about their passionate love affair and I would add to it each week. Really, I would just steal scenes from soap operas. Oddly, the one John Stamos show I would watch was 'General Hospital.' I would watch that with my mom. She moved to America (from France) when she was about 28 and didn’t have a big network or family here, so we would sit in front of the TV and watch 'General Hospital' because it was the only soap (opera) she liked,” Young says.
Young even remembers her mother commenting about Stamos when he joined the cast in 1982 that he was “good, very good” and that she thought they would keep him around for a while. Talk about foreshadowing.
As a military “brat,” Young moved around a lot and worked in various fields during her early career before carving out a niche in the Valley nonprofit scene. She's also a music fan and is a big supporter of live music and enjoys going out to see bands when she can with her husband, Michael Meyer, a local engineer involved in cancer research. The idea of writing full-time, though, was not something Young entertained until meeting Stamos.
“John was really one of the first people that not only pushed (writing) but kind of saw the quality in me and decided, like, ‘Hey, I’m going to hustle for you.’ He told the publishers, Henry Holt and Co., who had been after him to write a memoir, ‘I’m only going to do it with her,’” Young says.
What the duo created is a very fun read. Even for folks like me who weren’t inclined to care a whole lot about what it is like to be John Stamos, it kept my interest throughout. At the end of the book, I might even have to say that I became a bit of a Stamos fan, which is a testament to the work the two authors created.
Young and Stamos have clearly forged a working relationship that allows each other to shine, and while the voice in the book clearly belongs to Stamos, it takes a special kind of writer to help that process along for someone who has never written a book before. When the two started the process in 2022, Young was still working full-time for a local nonprofit, so she only had nights and weekends to collaborate, which she had told Stamos during their initial phone call.
“He said, ‘I’ll see you on the nights and weekends,’ and that’s what he did. We did a Zoom call on a Saturday for five hours and just talked about life. He would go through stories, and it was just a joy. I thought about that movie, 'Being John Malkovich,' where they go into his head and I told my husband, ‘It’s like being John Stamos. I get to go in and party in this guy’s head.’ The process was a lot of fun,” Young says.
While it was daunting for Young to be working a full-time day job and doing the work with Stamos when she had spare time, the collaboration became something of a refuge, as well.
“I often thought, ‘How on earth am I going to be able to do this?’ but you know, it would be a Saturday and John and I might talk for a few hours, then I would sit down and write. He would give me pieces that he had done and we would send them back and forth. In a strange way, it became very relaxing, like it was a place where I could do what I had done as a kid for all those years and get into the book, if you will, get into the story, and get out of life for a while and play around in Stamos-ville. That’s a fun place to be,” she says.
There's clearly a great deal of trust between the two writers. Within the memoir, Stamos comes off as completely genuine, self-deprecating, at times, and confident in sharing both the good times and his vulnerabilities. In conversation, Young exudes these same qualities.
As the dust has settled a bit since the release of "If You Would Have Told Me: A Memoir" last October, Young has had a chance to reflect on both the process and what comes next. Several of the stories Stamos and Young told within the book could easily be expanded on for future projects and it's clear that neither of them are looking to rest on their laurels. According to Young, their partnership is going to continue, which is good news for their fans.
It will be interesting to see what she does next when the curtain is pulled back for everyone to see.