James Patterson was one of the most ambitious, prolific and commercially successful novelists of his day. For more than two decades, Patterson cultivated an enormously successful career in advertising...
Newburgh, New York, USA
|Maximum Ride||Book Author||n/a||1|
|Sundays at Tiffany's||Book Author||n/a||1|
|Maximum Ride||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|Sundays at Tiffany's||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|The Simpsons||2014 1988 - 2014||Actor||Himself||20147|
|The 2nd Annual Quill Awards||2006 2005 - 2006||Actor||Presenter||20067|
|Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill A Mockingbird||2011||Actor||Himself||20117|
|James Patterson's Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas||2004 2003 - 2004||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|Sundays at Tiffany's||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|James Patterson's First to Die||2002 2001 - 2002||Co-Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|Women's Murder Club||2007 2006 - 2007||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|A Warrior's Heart||2011||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|James Patterson's Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas||2004 2003 - 2004||Source Material||(From novel: "Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas")||1|
|Miracle on the 17th Green||Book as Source Material||("Miracle on the 17th Green")||1|
|James Patterson's First to Die||2002 2001 - 2002||Source Material||(Based on novel "First to Die")||1|
|Along Came A Spider||2001||Source Material (from novel)||("Along Came a Spider")||1|
|Child of Darkness, Child of Light||Source Material (from novel)||("Virgin")||1|
|Kiss the Girls||1997||Source Material (from novel)||("Kiss the Girls")||1|
|Women's Murder Club||2007 2006 - 2007||Source Material||(From novel series, "Women's Murder Club")||1|
|Sundays at Tiffany's||Source Material (from novel)||("Sundays at Tiffany's")||1|
|Alex Cross||2012||Source Material||(from novel: "Cross")||1|
|America's War on Poverty||1994 1993 - 1994||Advisor||series academic advisor||1|
|Fourth novel Virgin (1980) adapted into USA Network movie "Child of Darkness, Child of Light"|
|Released second Alex Cross novel Kiss the Girls|
|Introduced forensic psychologist character Alex Cross in Along Came a Spider|
|Twelfth novel in series Cross (2006) adapted into feature film "Alex Cross" with Tyler Perry in title role|
|Feature adaptation of "Kiss the Girls" starred Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman (as detective Alex Cross)|
|Credited for creating characters on "Women's Murder Club" (ABC), based on his novel series|
|Made publishing debut with novel The Thomas Berryman Number|
|Signed deal to write or co-write 11 books for adults and six for young adults|
|Freeman reprised Alex Cross for big screen adaptation of "Along Came a Spider"|
|Retired from advertising to focus on writing full time|
|Founded the James Patterson PageTurner Awards|
Born James Brendan Patterson on March 22, 1947 in Newburgh, NY, he was the only boy and oldest of four children born to Isabelle and Charles Patterson, a schoolteacher and a salesman, respectively. Years later, Patterson would learn that his father had long harbored unfulfilled literary ambitions of his own. Although raised in Newburgh for the majority of his childhood, Patterson and his family eventually relocated to Boston, MA just as James was graduating from high school. It was during this time that Patterson took on a night shift job as an aide at McLean Hospital - a psychiatric facility known for its many famous patients over the years - in the Boston suburb of Belmont. With time on his hands, Patterson began to read voraciously while at McLean. This, combined with lengthy discussions about writing and the creative process with noted American poet Robert Lowell during one of his stays at the hospital, was a turning point for the young man, who began to consider writing as a serious vocation for the first time in his life. Shortly thereafter, Patterson returned to New York, where he enrolled at Manhattan College and later graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in English in 1969. A short stint at Vanderbilt on a scholarship earned Patterson a masters in English in 1970. Although he had begun a Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt, Patterson pulled out a short time later after coming to the realization that a lifetime of academia and a career as a professor would eventually dull his motivation to write.
In the meantime, Patterson supported himself with work at the New York offices of J. Walter Thompson, a prominent national advertising agency. Beginning as a junior copywriter, Patterson's facility with language, professional drive and a knack for catchy slogans eventually elevated him to the position of creative director - the youngest employee to attain the position in the company's storied history at the time. After overseeing hugely successful campaigns for such clientele as Burger King and Toys 'R Us, Patterson was later promoted to CEO of its North American operations. Incredibly, this was simply a day job for Peterson, as in the evenings and on weekends, he wrote with diligence and commitment. Even though his personal tastes had always run toward literary icons like James Joyce, for his own efforts, Patterson sought to emulate recent popular fiction writers like Frederick Forsyth, whose 1971 thriller The Day of the Jackal he had greatly admired. The result was Patterson's first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, a straight-forward yarn concerning an ambitious reporter on the trail of a hired assassin. After being rejected by over two dozen publishers, the book was finally released by Little, Brown and Company in 1976 and won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best First Novel that year. An impressive debut to be sure, but not a bestseller that would place him in the ranks of the publishing industry's star players or, for that matter, allow Patterson to leave his lucrative day job.
Seeking greener pastures, Patterson continued to hone his increasingly sparse style, even as he cast about for the literary genre that would click with the broadest audience possible. Follow-up efforts included the grisly serial killer tale Season of the Machete, the supernatural demon-child story Virgin and a Wall Street thriller, Black Market. Having gained a reputation as a solid producer of mid-level material, Patterson returned to Little, Brown in 1989 with The Midnight Club, another thriller involving a globe-trotting serial killer. Two years later, Patterson made his first tentative steps into Hollywood when Virgin was adapted into the forgettable made-for-TV horror tale, "Child of Darkness, Child of Light" (USA Network, 1991). For his next novel, Patterson introduced the character of Alex Cross, a handsome African-American detective with a Ph.D. in forensic psychology in a story about a psychotic serial killer with a split personality and a lust for infamy. Employing his advertising acumen, Patterson wrote, produced and paid for a television commercial spot for his new book which he then convinced a dubious Little, Brown to join him in selling to several core TV markets around the nation. The novel was 1993's best-selling Along Came a Spider and it changed the trajectory of Patterson's career - if not the entire publishing industry - forever.
Having planned the book as the start of a franchise, Patterson quickly followed Along Came a Spider with Kiss the Girls in 1995. Making things personal for Cross this time, Patterson pulled the single father away from his two young children and sent him to the South in an attempt to rescue his niece from a madman engaged in a macabre competition with another serial killer in Los Angeles. With back-to-back bestsellers to his credit, Patterson had now firmly established himself as one of the top thriller writers in the U.S. Not content with achieving success in a single genre, Patterson's next effort, the feel-good sports fable Miracle on the 17th Green, was not only his first non-thriller book, but also his first collaboration with a co-author, Peter de Jonge. As his publishing output grew ever more prodigious, hiring collaborators became a practice Patterson would increasingly rely on, eventually almost exclusively so. At last secure enough in his success to make it his sole profession, Patterson left his position at J. Walter Thompson in 1996 to focus on writing full-time. Ever on the lookout for new material, Hollywood saw a potential goldmine in Patterson's thrillers. With revered actor Morgan Freeman as Cross and Ashley Judd as a resourceful doctor helping him track down her former kidnapper, "Kiss the Girls" (1997) met with mixed reviews, but respectable box office.
More Patterson adaptations soon followed - the TV drama "Miracle on the 17th Green" (CBS, 1999) and the feature film sequel "Along Came a Spider" (2001) with Freeman reprising the role of Cross, among them. Looking to extend his female demographic and appeal more to West Coast readers, Patterson began the San Francisco-based Women's Murder Club series with1st to Die in 2001, another bestseller that was quickly turned into a TV movie two years later. Continuing the trend, Patterson's earlier entry into the realm of the romance novel was given the small screen treatment with "Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas" (CBS, 2005), starring Christina Applegate. After encountering initial reluctance on the part of his son Jack to embrace reading, an inspired Patterson entered the Young Adult book market with the dystopian fantasy-adventure Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment in 2005. The first entry in another series, the book debuted at No 1. on the New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for a dozen weeks. As a result, Patterson became the first author to have new books simultaneously landing at the top spot on both the New York Times adult and children's bestseller lists. And the benchmarks kept coming. That same year, Patterson became the only author to have five new hardcover books debut at No. 1, and in 2006 industry watchers were stunned by the news that one out of every 17 hardcovers purchased that year were written by Patterson. Enjoying a vast readership that now comprised nearly every demographic, Patterson truly achieved pop-culture icon status when he was asked to voice himself for a 2007 episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ).
Increasingly, Patterson cast his eye toward film and television for his next triumphs. 1st to Die and its numerically-titled sequels later formed the basis for a regular series interpretation of the best-selling franchise, "Women's Murder Club" (ABC, 2007-08), a short-lived crime drama, starring Angie Harmon as one of four San Francisco women working together to solve homicides, which Patterson also executive produced. More franchise properties in a similar vein were kicked off with the books The Dangerous Days of Daniel X and Witch & Wizard in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Encouraged by both his professional success and his efforts with his own son, Patterson embarked on a number of philanthropic endeavors aimed at nurturing a love of reading among children, primarily through his site ReadKiddoRead.com, launched in 2008. The following year, he established The Patterson Scholars program at Vanderbilt's Peabody College in Nashville, TN, giving preference to students who participate in educational community service work. In 2010, Patterson - with the help of a cadre of writing partners and a full-time editorial staff from Little, Brown - put out a total of 10 titles, including the sixth in the Maximum Ride series, Maximum Ride: Fang, Women's Murder Club book number 9, The 9th Judgment and the 17th in the Alex Cross series, Cross Fire. Featured on the cover of a 2010 issue of New York Times Magazine, Patterson was credited in the article as having "transformed book publishing." Despite often being criticized for a lack of nuance and style - mega-author Stephen King was among his many vocal detractors - Patterson was unapologetically in the business of entertaining the masses.
Now a bona fide literary celebrity, Patterson even appeared as himself with occasional cameos on "Castle" (ABC, 2008- ), a mystery-romance series following the exploits of a hugely successful crime novelist (Nathan Fillion) who helps solve actual murder investigations alongside a beautiful policewoman (Stana Katic). In an adaptation of his 2008 fantasy-romance novel of the same name, Alyssa Milano starred as a woman reunited with her childhood "imaginary" friend in the fantasy-romance "Sundays at Tiffany's" (Lifetime, 2010). Never entirely satisfied with the production or box office performance of the earlier attempts to bring his greatest literary hero to the screen, Patterson served as co-producer on "Alex Cross" (2012) with media mogul Tyler Perry taking over the role of the "Doctor Detective" in a thriller involving an assassin dubbed "Picasso" (Matthew Fox), known for his particularly brutal killing methods. Marketed with the cringe worthy tagline of "Don't ever cross Alex Cross," the film opened to dismal reviews and poor ticket sales, making the intended film sequel based on more Cross novels remote. As disappointing as this Hollywood venture may have been for Patterson, his publishing empire rolled on with 2013's Alex Cross, Run. Another plot-twisting thriller involving an insane plastic surgeon looking to exact his vengeance upon the detective, it was Patterson's 20th entry in the Alex Cross series.
By Bryce P. Coleman
|Patterson was a New York ad executive for Burger King.|
From classic movie palaces to the state-of-the-art IMAX screens.