Austine

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Want exclusive content, like free chapters, news, and sweepstakes? Register for the newsletter here! We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. Later, in 4th of JulyYuki Castellano s the Club. Together, they solve crimes in their home city of San Francisco, and often meet up to talk about clues and life over Mexican food and drinks at Susie's. Lindsay is five foot ten.

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She opened her eyes in the blackness, as questions broke the surface of her mind.

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I understand it, and I like it. An amiable year-old redhead in a black leather jacket and jeans, Ledwidge told me he grew up in a large, working-class Irish family in the Bronx. But never had authors been marketed essentially as consumer goods, paving the way for a small group of writers, from Charlaine Harris to Malcolm Gladwell, to dominate best-seller lists — often with several titles at a time — in the same way that brands like Skippy and Grey Poupon dominate supermarket shelves.

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His attitude was that we were in business together, and he wanted us both to succeed, but it was not going to be fun and games. They each began with the wave of consolidation that swept through the industry in the s. Patterson repeatedly challenged industry convention, sometimes over the objections of his own publisher.

Some Little, Brown editors worried that other books were suffering as a result.

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It rose to No. He has a Ph. Still, hundreds of suspenseful, fast-paced novels are published each year; few become successful, let alone blockbusters. Patterson pays his co-authors out of his own pocket. Publishers have finite resources, and the demands of publishing Patterson were extraordinary even for a blockbuster author.

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A of former Little, Brown employees who attended these sorts of meetings with Patterson in the s and early s described him to me as low-key but intimidating, more cutthroat adman than retiring writer — a kind of real-life Don Draper. The way it usually works, Patterson will write a detailed outline — sometimes as long as 50 s, triple-spaced — and one of his co-authors will draft the chapters for him to read, revise and, when necessary, rewrite.

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As long as there has been mass-market fiction, it has had its detractors. At its best, the prose can call to mind Raymond Chandler. He published his first Y. Despite some negative prepublication reviews, the book was critic-proof, making its debut at No. His books all share stylistic similarities. And the blockbuster became even bigger.

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This is partly because Patterson is so prolific: with the help of his stable of co-authors, he published nine original hardcover books in and will publish at least nine more in Here are just a few: Sinceone out of every 17 novels bought in the United States was written by James Patterson. Their growing dominance of the market gave them the leverage to demand wholesale discounts and charge hefty sums for favorable store placement, forcing publishers to sell still more books.

It was. When Ledwidge learned that he and James Patterson shared an alma mater, Manhattan College, he delivered his half-finished manuscript to Patterson one morning at J. That night, his phone rang. A few weeks after visiting Patterson, I had lunch with one of his collaborators, Michael Ledwidge, in Manhattan.

In addition, he does frequent thriller one-offs, including an annual summer beach read, usually set at or near a resort.

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He avoids description, back story and scene setting whenever possible, preferring to hurl readers into the action and establish his characters with a minimum of telegraphic details. A former ad executive — Patterson ran J. Pietsch and Tingley showed mock-ups of covers and presented ideas they had been working on. Under pressure from both their parent companies and booksellers, publishers became less and less willing to gamble on undiscovered talent and more inclined to hoard their resources for their most bankable authors.

Patterson gave him the same advice he gives all first-time novelists: Write another one. Last year, an estimated 14 million copies of his books in 38 different languages found their way onto beach blankets, airplanes and nightstands around the world.

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It sold about 10, copies, a modest, if respectable, showing for a first novel. What the hell was going on? Mass-market fiction had historically been a paperback business, but publishers now put more energy and resources into selling these same books as hardcovers, with their vastly more favorable profit margins. Instead of simply going to the biggest book-buying markets, he focused his early tours and advertising efforts on cities where his books were selling best: like a politician aspiring to higher office, he was shoring up his base.

Once again, the books were best sellers.

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This is so cool. On the adult side, his collaborators work directly and exclusively with Patterson. Patterson grew up in Newburgh, N. When his father retired, he wrote a novel and showed it to Patterson, already an established author. From there, Patterson gradually added more titles each year. Buzzards crossed its path, heading east toward Wichita Falls. From the plush, caramel-colored couch facing them, Patterson, who is a trim 62 with a habitual slouch and laconic manner well suited to his dry sense of humor, acted as creative director, a familiar role from his years in advertising.

Patterson built his fan following methodically. When a woman handed him a copy of the book to autograph, he groaned. Instead, Patterson moved to New York and got a job as a junior copywriter at J. Walter Thompson. So he worked as a doorman and started writing a heist novel on the side.

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The lesson was not easily learned. To her, they lacked the nuance and originality of other blockbuster genre writers like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Like most authors, James Patterson started out with one book, released inthat he struggled to get published.

When the meeting was over, Patterson and his wife drove everyone to lunch in their matching Mercedes sedans. Patterson is unsentimental about his early, somewhat clumsy attempts at popular fiction. This was going to be the first of several novels about an African-American homicide detective in Washington, D. The thinking was that selling a book as if it were a lawn-care product could very well backfire by turning off potential readers. Patterson discovered books late for a man who now makes a fortune writing them. Some novelists have tried using co-authors, usually with limited success.

The nine hardcovers a year are really only the beginning. Patterson encountered similar resistance when he introduced the idea of using co-authors, which Little, Brown warned would dilute his brand.

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No doubt, some of those who praised it at the time would now say Patterson has failed to live up to its literary promise. But never in the history of publishing has the blockbuster been so big. A finely made coil of brown dust followed it like a streamer. Certainly none have taken collaboration to the level Patterson has, with his five regular co-authors, each one specializing in a different Patterson series or genre.

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He is part executive producer, part head writer, setting out the vision for each book or series and then ensuring that his writers stay the course. They are light on atmospherics and heavy on action, conveyed by simple, colloquial sentences.

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There is no real good guy, other than the reporter and narrator. Little, Brown initially balked. When Jim felt that resentment, he roared back. And he was too powerful to ignore. Patterson helped Ledwidge get his first book published and his writing career started.

Publishing is an inherently conservative business. On the Y. For the most part, though, Patterson draws his co-authors from the vast sea of struggling writers. With nothing else to do on his overnight shifts, he guzzled coffee and read.

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No sooner had Patterson established himself in the thriller market than he started moving into new genres. Over time, the process invariably becomes more efficient.

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Big-box stores like Costco accelerated the trend by stocking large quantities of books by a small group of authors and offering steep discounts on them. Patterson wrote, produced and paid for a commercial himself. Like movie studios, publishing houses have long built their businesses on top of blockbusters. He dabbles in nonfiction as well. From there, he began reaching out to a wider audience, often through unconventional means.

Despite this support staff and his prodigious output, Patterson is intimately involved in the publication of his books. The effect was self-fulfilling. He wanted to be a cop, but when he applied inthe Police Academy was oversubscribed. Nearly all of those books are published a second and third time, first as traditional paperbacks, then as pocket-size, mass-market paperbacks.

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He stopped in the kitchen to pour himself a glass of orange Fanta and led me upstairs to his home office, an airy, uncluttered wood-paneled room overlooking a lap pool — Sue, who is 10 years his junior, was an all-American swimmer at the University of Wisconsin in the late s — and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Right after his senior year in high school, his family moved to a suburb of Boston, and Patterson got a job working nights and weekends as an aide at McLean Hospital in Belmont. Patterson soon followed in a white polo shirt, pleated blue trousers and boat shoes. But more than that, Patterson almost single-handedly created a template for the modern blockbuster author.