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Author Interview with James Patterson

29 October 2015

Medium james patterson witch and wizard
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James Patterson is an American author writing best selling suspend and thriller novels.

James Patterson.jpg Patterson was the first author to achieve ten million ebook sales and he holds the Guinness record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers of any author. Patterson is now the current bestselling author in the young adult and middle grade categories.

Some of our Reading Hackers interviewed James, finding out what he thinks about libraries, writing and how he’s never really grown up.

The interview

Do you prefer writing novels for young people or for adults?

I’m actually pretty funny, and I don’t get to write funny in adult books. Plus, I never really grew up, so that makes kids’ books better for me!

Which of your own novels are you most proud of?

I am proud to have created Alex Cross. I Funny I like a lot. I think
I Funny is a very cool distinctive book. More than anything else, it’s just having created Cross and Michael Bennett and the Women’s Murder Club. And Private, and Maximum Ride. And Witch & Wizard. I’m emotional about all of them. One of the tricks with so many series is keeping them going and knowing when to end them.

What do you think of the state of libraries in the US and the
UK?

I think that better readers become better thinkers. I’m convinced that kids need to be inundated with books they actually like if they’re ever going to get better at reading. It takes one good book to create a lifelong reader. Far too many children are in danger of living their lives without books. Right now we need places where kids can go and talk about books and libraries are those places. Children have a fundamental right to libraries in schools and a right to access to books that will interest them.

What sort of books did you enjoy reading as a teenager and which authors do you enjoy now?

One of my favourite books is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It gave me the idea for my series Treasure Hunters, along with Indiana Jones! My favourite kids’ book is The Book Thief. But that’s not for all kids: it’s a dark and tough book. I also really like The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

Do you have any tips for aspiring young authors?

The key to writing is outline. Outline, outline, and you know, it’s a pain in the butt, but everything will be easier, your grades will be better, your essays and your stories, whatever, outlined. And practice, practice, practice.

What inspired you to become an author in the first place? Was there a specific time or event in your life which triggered this?

Books were what convinced me to write in the first place. I worked my way through college working the night shift at a hospital. During these late nights, I started scribbling, started reading good books. The only thing that got me through were these books, my new writing habit, coffee and… more coffee.

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a book?

The end is always the hardest for me because you’ve built up expectations. What I do, it’s very emotional. I have to feel it. And if I get to the end and I’m not satisfied, then I don’t feel like I enjoyed this dinner somehow.

What does your average day look like when working on a new project?

I write every day. I get up about 5am and write early, then play golf and write some more and knock off at 6pm. I do that seven days a week. I’ve done that ever since I left advertising, which was 15 years ago. I write longhand on a legal pad. I do not use a computer. I write, I erase, I write some more. It’s kind of silly but it has worked for me. The day will be a combination of writing, rewriting, outlines and different voices.

Questions by Ylenia and Andrea from Gateshead Reading Hackers.

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