The name of James Patterson is ubiquitous. Go to any hotel or cruise ship pool in summer, and you’ll see someone reading a Patterson thriller, written by himself and co-authors. A former ad man, he is now the reigning king of pop fiction superstars, and lives in Palm Beach, Florida, where Mar-a-Lago is. (Bill Clinton and Trump were photographed golfing together years ago.) I once met Patterson at Book Expo America. His latest book, written with Bill Clinton, is THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING. Narrators are actors Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Mozhan Marno, and Jeremy Davidson. The book will be published June 4. Preorder.
JONATHAN LOWE: What led you to writing? Were you a voracious reader?
JAMES PATTERSON: I was a good student in high school, but I didn’t like to read at all. I’m still not a big fan of Silas Marner. Just after I graduated from high school, I got a job working at a famous mental hospital. I had a lot of free time, and I started reading everything I could get my hands on. At this point, I was reading serious fiction, poetry, essays, plays. I still didn’t read any commercial fiction. When I was in my twenties I read two commercial novels that turned it all around for me–Day of the Jackal and The Exorcist. At that point, I decided that I wanted to write a novel that readers would find almost impossible to put down.
Q: What was your reaction to the success of “Along Came a Spider?”
A: Long before I had a success with “Along Came A Spider,” I had learned to stop and smell the roses. Consequently, I savored every moment when Along Came A Spider hit the bestseller lists. That included every bookstore I visited on tour, every interview, every kind review.
Q: Was the Alex Cross character your first choice as protagonist? How and why did you develop him to be who he is?
A: Actually, when I began “Along Came A Spider,” Alex Cross was a woman. I wrote about fifty pages, and decided to go in another direction. I’ve told the story about where the Cross family came from, but I’m happy to tell it again. When I was a kid growing up in Newburgh, New York, my grandparents owned a small restaurant. The cook was a black woman named Laura. When I was three or four, she was having trouble with her husband and my parents urged her to move in with us. Over the next four years, I spent incredible amounts of time with Laura and her family. I got an incredible feeling for the warmth and good humor that they shared. That certainly influenced my creating the Cross family.
Q: Did you begin by thinking of Alex as a series character? Coming up with nursery rhymes as titles is obviously good for name recognition, but how much did they influence the actual plotting?
A: When I wrote “Along Came A Spider” I wasn’t thinking about creating a series. The publisher wanted to make a two-book deal, and the more I thought about writing about Alex again, the more I liked it. I don’t think the nursery rhymes have much to do with the plotting at all.
Q: Nor do I. One thing which strikes me about your books is your creative use of short chapters for dramatic effect. Knowing when and where to end a chapter which leaves the reader guessing or biting their nails or just staring at the page in shock. Two of your chapters in ROSES ARE RED, for example, are mere one liners, which explains a total of 125 chapters in a relatively short book. When your wife asks how much you’ve written today and you say “two chapters” doesn’t she just stare at you?
A: The short chapters were kind of an accident. I had written about thirty chapters of The Midnight Club and I expected to flesh them out later. When I read them, however, I liked the pacing a lot. I eventually fleshed the chapters out, but not as much as I planned to. My wife and I never talk about the quantity of work I’ve done on any given day, just the quality.
Q: Please describe your new book.
A: You get on a roller coaster, it goes on and on, you can’t believe how many twists and turns you’ve experienced, and when the ride finally stops you get off exhausted, shaken, but strangely satisfied.
Q: Do you listen to audiobooks on the road?
A: Ever since I moved out of New York City, I’ve been addicted to audiobooks. I listen to one or two a week while I’m driving around town. Generally, I listen to the books that I used to buy, but never get around to reading.
#NewRelease #audiobook: A bold new work from the author of #TheBlackSwan that challenges many of our long-held beliefs about risk and reward, #politics and #religion, #finance and personal responsibility. In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to #Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of #heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life. As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held #beliefs about the values of those who spearhead #military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights: • For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get #rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the #game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations. • Ethical rules aren’t universal. You’re part of a group larger than you, but it’s still smaller than humanity in general. • Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and #ethics on others. • You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. “Educated philistines” have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb #diets. • Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple #barbell can build #muscle better than expensive new machines. • True religion is commitment, not just #faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you’re willing to risk for it. The phrase “skin in the game” is one we have often heard but rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of #risk management. #SharkTank #audiobooks #bookstagram @tower_review 📲🎱