Message From The Author

James Patterson

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult, Young Adult

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A Maximum Ride


Say the name James Patterson and lots of thoughts come to mind, mostly murder, mayhem and mystery. So it may come as a bit of shock to find out that the prolific author, most famous for his thriller novels, is quite the joker in real life and loves "ice cream with chocolate in the name."

"I'm sensitive, can't stand the sight of blood and I can be very funny," says Patterson, acknowledging that most people would be surprised by this revelation.

What people wouldn't be surprised by is the author's work ethic, or to learn that he has plenty of books coming out this year. First up is this month's YA release School's Out -- Forever (Little, Brown), the second novel in the Maximum Ride series about a group of children who can fly. The first book was a Teens Top Pick from the American Library Association and the Voice of Youth Advocates.

But what made the author turn to writing for kids in the first place? "I have an 8-year-old son, Jack, so writing children's books is personal for me," says Patterson. "The other piece of the puzzle is that I was getting literally thousands of e-mails and letters from people telling me I've gotten their children reading.

"It occurred to me that the best way to get kids reading is to give them books that they love. What I've tried to do with Maximum Ride is create a continuing series for young adults, and adults as well, that you just couldn't put down. Jack is a tough, snide little critic, but he totally approves of Maximum Ride."

For those who haven't read the books, the series is narrated by
14-year-old Max, a girl. How does the author get into Max's head? "For some reason, I've always been comfortable writing in a woman's voice," says Patterson. "There's Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, Sam's Letters to Jennifer, the Women's Murder Club series. And I've always liked writing from a kid's point of view."

While he has given in to his desire to write kids' books and is working on his first horror novel (with Howard Roughan, with
whom he collaborated on Honeymoon), the one genre he's not
ready to break into just yet is contemporary romance.

"I'm not planning to, but I have a lot of respect for anybody who tells a good story," he says. "I think Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Laurell K. Hamilton are particularly good storytellers. So were the Bronte sisters!"

Patterson is, however, teaming up with one of the leaders in women's romance, Harlequin and its Mira imprint, for a new anthology he's editing, Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night. The book, out in June, includes works by Heather Graham, John Lescroart and Gayle Lynds. "I think to some extent the genre hasn't been taken seriously," says Patterson, "and maybe this anthology will help a little. There are a lot of very good thriller writers out there, as you'll see when you read these stories."

Patterson will be providing his own thrills, as well, this summer with two blockbusters (from Little, Brown) just in time for beach season: this month's Beach Road, with Peter De Jonge, and July's Judge and Jury, with Andrew Gross.

And fans of his two series, featuring Alex Cross and Women's Murder Club heroine Lindsay Boxer, take heed. There's plenty more adventure on tap for these fan favorites. Alex returns in the fall with Cross (also from Little, Brown). "It's a very interesting book because, for 60 pages or so, it goes back in time and shows us the murder of Alex's wife, Maria." Lindsay and her friends return in the spring '07.

Perhaps because he's a writer, Patterson is serious about
literacy. To that end, the author has created the James Patterson PageTurner Award, for individuals, schools, bookstores and other groups/organizations that get people interested in reading.

So what advice does he have to encourage young people
to read? "Give kids books you know they're going to love.
... The Harry Potter books are great, so are Holes [and]
The Penderwicks."

And what about his own books? Says Patterson: "I think the Maximum Ride series is the best thing I've ever done, in any genre." -- Faygie Levy

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