Conversations with James Patterson about The Beach House, Violets Are Blue and Suzanne's Diary For Nicholas.
A Conversation with James Patterson about The Beach House
Beach House is your first legal thriller, what lead you to write it? Did you
enjoy writing it? Would you write another?
I didn't specifically set out to write a legal thriller, I was just
incredibly intrigued by the story in The
Beach House . However, most of us are fed up with the injustice that poses
for justice in this country. That's at the core of The
Beach House. It also seemed like a fun idea to take on John Grisham at his
own game. I generally like his stuff and the legal world is incredibly dramatic.
There is a great deal of corruption in The
Beach House in the local officials and in the corporate law firm, do you
think this is a common occurrence? Do you have any experience with the law?
Other than my hundreds of arrests I really don't have that much experience
with the law. While the majority of people aren't corrupt, there certainly is an
awful lot of corruption in this country. It's particularly tragic that some of
it takes place at law firms, like the one depicted in The
Beach House .
There are many wealthy beach communities you could have chose as the
backdrop for this story, is there anything particular that made you decide to
use the Hamptons as the setting of the book?
Peter de Jonge and I have both spent summers in the Hamptons. We know a lot
about the area and I hope it shows. Anybody who wants to take a quick beach trip
out there should sit down with the book.
Macklin Mullen is a very well developed and unique character in The
Beach House, is he based on someone you know? Do you usually use real
people as models for your characters?
Macklin, being Macklin, just took on a life of his own. I almost never use
real people as models for my characters.
Your books are always described as "page turners" that are
packed with twists and turns, but I bet no one will be quite prepared for the
conclusion of The
Beach House . When you first began writing this book did you already
envision such an ending or did it grow from the story? Do you usually outline
your books first or just start writing?
As I do with all of my books, I outlined The
Beach House from the beginning to end. I did know that the book would end
with a mind-boggling trial, but I didn't know exactly how it would turn out. I
like a little suspense when I am writing, too.
Will we ever see the Mullen family again in a future book? Or possibly
in a movie?
Beach House seems to be a hot summer read in Hollywood, too. A director and
a writer, really terrific ones, are about to attach themselves to the movie. As
far as seeing the Mullen Family again, who knows, but I've learned to never say
Last year you introduced a new Women's Murder Club series and wrote
your first love story, Suzanne's
Diary for Nicholas. Now, with The
Beach House you have written your first legal thriller, what can we expect
next from James Patterson?
Always expect the unexpected. Right around Thanksgiving, when the new Alex
Cross will be out. It's called Four
Blind Mice and it's a pretty amazing story about several murders inside the
military. Then, in the spring, an incredibly fast-paced, exciting, romantic
adventure story set in the Crusades. It's called The Jester and I think
it could be the best story I've been involved with.
A Conversation with James Patterson about Violets are Blue
The underworld of the vampires that you describe in Violets are Blue
is very dark and disturbing, where did the idea come from? Did it require a lot
For many years I had heard about an underworld consisting of people who act
out a vampire fantasy while I was living in New York. Fortunately for me there
are also several books on the phenomena. I read some, and then visited with
people involved in this curious, exciting and somewhat misunderstood
sub-culture. I met with a fang maker, who offered to fit me for an exquisite
pair. I also went to a club in Los Angeles where I was one of the few
participants without fangs and colored contact lenses to make my eyes appear red
The Mastermind makes a return appearance in Violets are Blue
after being the villain in Roses Are Red. Is he your most sinister killer
yet and how do you think up these evil characters?
It's very difficult for me to pick a favorite among my sinister children. The
Mastermind, Gary Soneji and Geoffrey Shafer are all pretty nasty. Most of these
characters are based on people I knew while working in advertising. Just
In Violets are Blue, the action takes place across the country
from Washington DC, to San Francisco to Las Vegas to Savannah to New Orleans.
Did you travel to all these locations? Why did you pick these cities? Are they
known to be the centers of the vampire world?
Yes, I have visited all of the major locations in the book-with the exception
of Las Vegas. The vampire underworld is much larger than most people could
imagine. It exists in all the cities mentioned in the book, but also in many,
many more. Teenagers, especially, seem to like to act out vampire fantasies.
There are several popular computer games with vampire scenes.
With the success of your new Women's Murder Club Series (1st To Die)
and your love story (Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas) did you look forward
to returning to the character of Alex Cross?
Sure, I always look forward to writing about Alex Cross. However, writing 1st
To Die and Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas gave me a very necessary
breather and I'm sure contributed to Violets are Blue in that way.
When you write, do you tend to finish one book at a time or are you
working on several different stories lines simultaneously?
Lately, I find that I'm working on three or more projects at any given time.
For some reason, this is a very comfortable way for me to work.
What is next for Alex Cross? Will we see him on the big screen again?
I'm just finishing up the next Alex Cross and I'm pleased with it. Some
people will look at it as more realistic than Violets are Blue, but only
because they won't be able to believe that the vampire underworld is as large
and real as it is. Currently, Paramount is talking about Roses Are Red
that I think has the makings of a terrific movie.
What is next for James Patterson? Is there any form of writing that you
haven't tried that you are interested in?
This summer, I'll be bringing out a mystery that involves a young lawyer and
a court scene the likes of which I don't think you've ever seen. Hollywood said
this is James Patterson meets John Grisham. I'm also working on a medieval
mystery story that hopefully will read like a historical novel on speed. At some
point, I'd like to try a contemporary horror novel, and maybe write another love
story like Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas.
An interview with James Patterson about Suzanne's Diary For Nicholas
Why did you decide to venture into a new genre and write a love story?
Suzanne's Diary For Nicholas is a story for people who have loved,
lost, and tried to find love again. When I was in my early thirties, I
lost someone very precious to me to cancer It wasn't until my forties that
I got the courage to find someone to love again. However, Suzanne's
Diary For Nicholas isn't my personal love story, it's a universal
story, one that reflects everyone's essential need for love.
There is a moving passage about the five balls. Where did that story
My grandmother said the best thing anyone can achieve in his or her life is
balance. And to illustrate this, she told me this story: "Imagine
life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called
work, family, health, friends and integrity. And you're keeping all of
them in the air. But one day, you finally come to understand that work is
a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four
balls - family, health, friends, integrity - are made of glass. If you
drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even
shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you
will have the beginning of balance in your life."
How do you thing your Alex Cross fans will react to Suzanne's Diary For
Nicolas? Do you hope to reach a new audience with this book?
When I go on tour, there are hundreds of people who want to talk about the
love stories in the Alex Cross books. I think these people will really
enjoy Suzanne's Diary For Nicholas, but the real audience for the book is
a whole new one for me. On tour I've been telling people Suzanne's
Diary For Nicholas is 'Patterson meets Bridges of Madison County meets
Nicholas Sparks meets The Horse Whisperer.' That's partially a
joke, but like all jokes, there's a little truth in it.
What inspired you to tell the story using the vehicle of the mother's
diary written for her child?
I have a three-year-old son. My wife, Susan, keeps a diary for little
Jack; it's basic: "Jack ate spinach for the first time, and threw up on
both my shoulders." But my wife's diary and having Jack around were
big inspirations for writing the book.
Are any of the characters modeled on people you know in real life?
The golden retriever
In 1st To Die, your four main characters are women. In Suzanne's
Diary For Nicholas, you write from the perspectives of two
women. How do you create so many diverse female voices in your
I grew up in a house full of women: my mother, grandmother, three sisters,
and two female cats. And I still have the buzz of their conversations in
my head. As an adult, I have more female friends than male ones: I just
love the way that women talk.
What challenges did you face writing a love story that you had not
encountered while writing thrillers?
I'm not sure what the answer is to that question, but I did write eleven
drafts of this book. The greatest thing about it was that it was a