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 Novel -- an 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 Francisco -- a 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 writers -- including Peter de Jonge, Andrew Gross, Maxine Paetro, and Howard Roughan -- and 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."
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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.
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James Patterson took a few moments to talk with us about his favorite books.
What was the book that most influenced your life?
A Hundred Years of Solitude is probably the novel that most influenced me as a young writer -- simply because as I read it, I realized that I could never do anything half as good. So why not try mysteries? Gabriel García Márquez's magical mystery tour begins with one of the most engaging lines in fiction: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." What follows is an exhilarating recounting of a century in the imaginary Colombian town of Macondo -- the comedies and tragedies, joy and suffering, sublime and ridiculous. An entire town, for example, is affected with insomnia at one point in the novel. A woman literally rises to heaven while drying her laundry. And eventually, the firing squad, fires. Some have called this the great American novel – only it was written by a South American.
What are your 10 favorite books?
Who are your favorite writers?
- A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet
- Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
- The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
- Night Dogs by Kent Anderson
- The Intruder by Peter Blauner
- Different Seasons by Stephen King
There are too many to possibly list them all.
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Signed, First Editions by James Patterson|
|The Thomas Berryman Number, 1976|
|Season of the Machete, 1977|
|The Jericho Commandment, 1979|
|Black Market, 1986|
|The Midnight Club, 1989|
|The Day America Told the Truth: Startling Revelations about Sex, Love, Religion, Violence, and More, 1991|
|Along Came a Spider, 1992|
|The Second American Revolution, 1994|
|Kiss the Girls, 1994|
|The Thirteen, 1995|
|Hide and Seek, 1995|
|Jack and Jill, 1996|
|Miracle on the 17th Green, 1996|
|See How They Run, 1997|
|Cat & Mouse, 1997|
|When the Wind Blows, 1998|
|Pop Goes the Weasel, 1999|
|Cradle and All, 2000|
|Black Friday, 2000|
|Roses Are Red, 2000|
|1st to Die, 2001|
|Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, 2001|
|Violets Are Blue, 2001|
|2nd Chance, 2002|
|The Beach House, 2002|
|Four Blind Mice, 2002|
|The Jester, 2003|
|The Lake House, 2003|
|The Big Bad Wolf, 2003|
|3rd Degree, 2004|
|Sam's Letters to Jennifer, 2004|
|London Bridges, 2004|
|The Angel Experiment, 2005|
|4th of July, 2005|
|Mary, Mary, 2005|
|The 5th Horseman, 2006|
|Beach Road, 2006|
|Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever, 2006|
|Judge & Jury, 2006|
|Step on a Crack, 2007|
|The 6th Target, 2007|
|The Quickie, 2007|
|You've Been Warned, 2007|
|Double Cross, 2007|
|7th Heaven, 2008|