James Patterson Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

James Patterson

James Patterson

An interview with James Patterson

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

The 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?
The 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 never.

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 of research?
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 or purple.

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 kidding.

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 come from?

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 fiction?

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 challenge.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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