An industry as much as an author, James Patterson has written (or co-written) more than 150 works of fiction. While perhaps still best known for the Alex Cross series, he's written mysteries and thrillers, fantasies and romances, picture books and middle-grade fiction. Patterson is scheduled to put out 12 books in 2016 alone, including Private Paris, The Games, Treasure Hunter: Peril at the Top of the World, Woman of God, and 15th Affair, which was just published by Little, Brown and Company.
Whose sentences are your favourite, and why?
James Joyce's writing is some of my favourite. I really appreciate the range of his work – from the clarity of his early writing, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and his short story collection Dubliners, to the extreme complexity of Ulysses. It is truly an amazing contrast that demonstrates such an impressive venture into language.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
A college professor once told me that I wrote well enough, but that I should stay away from fiction. It may not sound like the best advice on the face of it, but clearly it didn't destroy my motivation to become a novelist. In fact, I think it was a desire to prove him wrong that helped spur me forward.
What agreed-upon classic do you despise?
Dr. Seuss. And I don't despise him or his work so much as – like with a song that just gets played too often on the radio – I just don't see a whole lot there. For me, his books aren't exactly either gripping or laugh-out-loud funny, and what story that is there is just seems a bit repetitive for my taste. Though I will say, hats off to his publisher for keeping him atop the bestseller lists after all these years.
What question do you wish people would ask about your work (that they don't ask)?
I wish more people would ask me, "How can you possibly do all that you do?" instead of saying, "You can't possibly do all that you do." I'm told the latter of the two all the time, which can be frustrating. I generally prefer questions to insinuations.
What's the best death scene in literature?
Scenes from Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and Flaubert's Madame Bovary stand out for me. As I Lay Dying for the jarring hopelessness. Bovary for the raw, ironic injustice. Both are really powerful death scenes that stick with you long after you finish reading.