Not making any bones about his bid for success, James Patterson once declared he wanted to be known as “the king of the page-turners.” While that may seem like a pretty grand ambition, Patterson is as worthy of that title as any author working today.
James Patterson had been working as a very successful advertising copywriter when he decided to put his Masters degree in English to a somewhat different use. Inspired by bestselling hair-raising thrillers like The Day of the Jackal and The Exorcist, Patterson went to work on his first novel. Published in 1976, The Thomas Berryman Number established him as a writer of tightly constructed mysteries that move forward with the velocity of a bullet. For his startling debut, Patterson was awarded the prestigious Edgar Award for Best First Mystery Novelan auspicious beginning to one of the most successful careers in publishing.
A string of gripping standalone mysteries followed, but it was the 1992 release of Along Came a Spider that elevated Patterson to superstar status. Introducing Alex Cross, a brilliant black police detective/forensic psychologist, the novel was the first installment in a series of bestselling thrillers that has proved to be a cash cow for the author and his publisher.
Examining Patterson's track record, it's obvious that he believes one good series deserves another…maybe even a third! In 2001, he debuted the Women's Murder Club with 1st to Die, a fast-paced thriller featuring four female crime fighters living in San Franciscoa homicide detective, a medical examiner, an assistant D.A., and a cub reporter. The successful series has continued with other numerically titled installments. Then, spinning off a set of characters from a previous novel (1998's When the Wind Blows), in 2005 he published Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. Featuring a "flock" of genetically engineered flying children, the novel was a huge hit, especially with teen readers, and spawned a series of vastly popular fantasy adventures.
In addition to continuing his bestselling literary franchises, Patterson has also found time to co-author thrillers with other writersincluding Peter de Jonge, Andrew Gross, Maxine Paetro, and Howard Roughanand has even ventured into romance (Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, Sam's Letters to Jennifer) and children's literature (santaKid). Writing at an astonishing pace, this prolific author has turned himself into a one-man publishing juggernaut, fulfilling his clearly stated ambition to become "the king of the page-turners."
Good To Know
Patterson's Suzanne's Diary For Nicholas was inspired by a diary his wife kept that tracked the development of their toddler son.
Two of Patterson's Alex Cross mysteries (Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls) have been turned into films starring Morgan Freeman; in 2007, a weekly television series premiered, based on the bestselling Women's Murder Club novels.