From The Express:
As the ex-boss of the world’s best-known advertising agency and now the best-paid novelist on the planet James Patterson is used to being at the pinnacle of whichever profession he joins.
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At the last count the 65-year-old American has sold 275 million copies of his books. He has published 98 adult and children’s novels and has been the most borrowed author from British libraries for the past six years. This year alone – remember it’s still only February – he has had three number one best-sellers. According to the Forbes Magazine richest authors list he earned £62million last year, more than double his nearest rival Stephen King and five times as much as JK Rowling.
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In one of his most recent novels, Merry Christmas, Alex Cross, his god-fearing, family-loving African-American detective is called out to deal with two successive but unrelated cases on Christmas Day: one a domestic hostage stand-off, the other a terrorist launching an attack at Washington DC’s main rail station.
These two tales are told in linear order in chapters of two or three pages that don’t correspond to self-contained chunks of story and seem designed to make you feel you’re progressing through the story faster (Patterson’s own slogan, on the back of every book, is “the pages turn themselves”).
There are no subplots and the main story is so uncluttered you could probably turn it into a screenplay without omitting anything. The Arab terrorists are crude racial stereotypes and there is little suspense over the outcome because you know there’s no way the catastrophe they are planning will actually happen. But it does impel you to carry on reading, partly by making everything so easy.
The reason his literary output is so massive, at a rate of about one book a month, is that in most of his novels he doesn’t do the line-byline writing himself. He produces a treatment of 60 to 80 pages, establishing the plot and characters in detail, then hires a writer to turn it into a full-length book. He sees their work every couple of weeks, sending it back with notes to speed it up, make it more real etc, and the co-writer ends up with a decent billing (although not an equal share of the cash). When I ask if he’s a kind editor he says no writer has ever quit.
Link to the rest at The Express and thanks to Mira for the tip.