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James Brendan Patterson

The creator of the famous character of psychologist Alex Cross, James Patterson is the accomplished American author of not only thriller novels but also romance and non-fiction works. Patterson spent most of his working life in advertising before establishing a career in writing. With 71 novels in 33 years of which 19 topped the list of New York Times bestsellers, Patterson remains amongst the most widely read authors of these times.

Background

  • James B. Patterson was born March 22, 1947, in Newburgh, New York, the only son of Charles and Isabelle Patterson. His mother was a teacher and his father was an insurance broker. James Patterson grew up in a house full of women that included his mother, three sisters and grandmothers.

  • Education

    • Patterson attended Manhattan College, a Roman Catholic liberal arts college in Bronx, New York, and received a bachelor's degree. In 1970, he decided to enroll in Vanderbilt University's English literature graduate program. He dropped out of the program after one year.

    Career

    • During the summers between his semesters in college, Patterson took a temporary job at McLean Hospital as a medical aide. He did not pursue a career in the medical field, but the summer job was not a complete waste of the time, because it ended up being influential to Patterson's career in an unusual way. He spent a great deal of time leisurely reading books while he was working predominantly quiet night shifts at the hospital. The poet Robert Lowell who has inspired Patterson was a patient there and he used to read to the other patients and the aids. From this Patterson's love of reading began. He tried his own hand at writing, although he is very reticent about his early work.

      It would be a few more years before he focused his career on writing, though; instead, he choose a sensible career as a businessman. His first job was with J. Walter Thompson, an advertising agency, as an entry-level junior copywriter in 1971. Though Patterson climbed the company ranks, eventually becoming its North American CEO in 1990, then Chairman and then Worldwide Creative Director, he also wrote fiction in his spare time.

      When he was 26 years (in 1976) he wrote his first detective novel "The Thomas Berryman Number" and got rejected by 31 publishers, when it did get published, it won an Edgar for Best First novel. Patterson penned several other novels, but it was not until 1993 that he achieved breakout success with" Along Came a Spider". Patterson used his work experience to orchestrate a television ad campaign for the novel, which helped it become a best-seller. "Publishers haven't had a very good experience with advertising", he told John R. Hayes. "They tend to spread the money all over and do look-alike ads nobody notices. A book is like any other new product. You've got to let people know it's there and what it is. If you don't do that, don't blame the product'(1993). In 1996, Patterson left his life as an executive in order to focus on writing.

    Major achievements

    • James Patterson is one of the most popular authors of the 21st century. 19 of those books are on the list for New York Times bestsellers. Patterson has sold more books than Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dan Brown combined. Some famous Hollywood movies were based on his books like Kiss the Girl in 1997 and Along Came a Spider in 2001. Some television shows were also based on his books like Child of Darkness, Child of Light in 1991, Miracle on the 17th Green in 1999, 1st to Die in 2003, Women’s Murder Club in 2007, and more. James Patterson has also been on T.V. as himself like in episodes of Castle and The Simpsons.

      In 2013, it was estimated that one-in-five of all hardcover suspense/thriller novels sold was written by James Patterson, his books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide, and he holds the Guinness record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers of any author. And his success isn't based solely on thrillers like the perennially popular Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club and Michael Bennett series. Patterson is now also the current bestselling author in the young adult and middle grade categories.

      A great supporter of developing reading habits in children, Patterson is the founder of James Patterson PageTurner Awards which began in 2005. The foundation has donated more than US$850,000 to various institutions, schools and individuals that create new and creative ways of bringing back the excitement of books and reading. However, these awards were halted in 2008 when Patterson launched ReadKiddoRead.com, another initiative to pursue the cause of reading by helping parents and teachers to choose the best books for their children.

      Patterson has also set up the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarship in the schools of education at Appalachian State University,Michigan State University, and Florida Atlantic University. Patterson also runs the College Book Bucks scholarship program.

    Personality

    It is said that Patterson’s female-oriented family gave him a unique perspective on women, which he routinely reflects on when writing female characters in his novels.

    Patterson spent many of his younger working days cooking and cleaning in his grandmother's family-style restaurant along with the majority of his immediate and extended family. Through this experience, Patterson was exposed to many different types of people from different walks of life. His exposure led him to understand people and relate to unique situations that other people were experiencing. His parents and extended family nurtured his hard-working, driven attitude and never put limits on what he could or should carry out in life.

    Connections

    • Patterson married Susan Solie in 1997; the two had a son, Jack, the following year. James currently resides in Briarcliff Manor, New York and Palm Beach, Florida, with his wife and son.

    References

    James Patterson
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    Born March 22, 1947
    (age 70)
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    Contributor  

    Tatsiana Vyshynskaya

    last changed 02/11/2015 view changes
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