Over the course of helping him on three novels for young readers, my impressions of writing with James Patterson are as follows:
1) He is more committed to telling stories that people can relate to than any human I know. He’s a relentless student of how to keep eyes glued to a page. He tells it like this, “When you’re writing, imagine you’re sitting across the table from somebody and you’re telling them the story. You don’t want their eyes (or minds) wandering from you. You want to keep their attention the whole time, right?” Seems obvious but I, at least, never thought of it like that.
2) Maybe part and parcel of 1) is that I know nobody who’s more relentless in his stance against snobbery. It’s not an easy tack to take in the traditional world of book publishing, but he clearly has managed to prevail. He knows that snobbery kills interest in books, kills interest in stories, and generally disenables rather than enables most readers.
3) He’s a good teacher and he’s generous with his knowledge and with his office hours. I wish I’d had him in college.
4) He’s smart and funny and understanding and creative. Don’t believe me (and you aren’t already a fan)?—check out the Daniel X book I just worked on with him, or his new bestselling Middle School book, or his coming (if you’re a grown-up) Christmas Wedding novel. Or, heck, just read the movie reviews on his Facebook page.
If you’re wondering how the co-authoring process works (FAQ, believe me), I like to think of him as the architect and myself as the journeyman carpenter. He lays out the blueprint--a fully-planned and very extensive outline--of the story and then I come in with some lumber, nails, and my ten hammers. Oh, and then he comes in and does a ton of the work himself.
Anyhow, I know I’ve got some self-interest to protect here—probably I shouldn’t be here saying how grateful I am for the experience to co-write with Jim. Last thing I want is having the whole world line up to be co-authors and give myself even more competition but, honestly, if you ever have the chance . . . I do hear he’s got a few dozen new projects he’s busy outlining. Did I mention he’s got a lot of energy, too?