I Don’t Want to be the Greatest Best Seller of All Time
When I first decided to try my hand at writing a thriller, and cast around for the best examples to read, James Patterson was high on the list. His sales are astounding. His books seemed to be on the shelves of every store.
I noticed that almost all the titles were cowritten. Of course I was curious. How would that work? Do you hang out with him in a cramped office stuffed with two typewriters, a carton of cigarettes, and a bottle of scotch?
As I continued my research into the genres of crime, action and horror (the secret recipe for making a thriller), Patterson was held up as one of the greats. How-to articles pointed out his fast pacing, unflinching use of dangerous villians, and productivity.
If nothing else, no one put out as many books as he (and his partners). Certainly, that creative genius ought to be modeled.
I started one of his books and set it aside. Didn’t finish. I don’t recall what it was or exactly why, but it just didn’t resonate with me. So, too, with a couple of other authors with similar reputation for exciting stories and consistent productivity. It didn’t hit me.
Thrillers are almost as varied as romance novels and I found my way to Tana French and Thomas Harris, loved them, and set about modeling my writing on their masterworks.
I know it when I see it
That’s how all art works: one person’s treasure is another’s trash. Luckily, there seems to be enough variety to satisfy most of us. In fact, my own tastes have changed over the past eight years, from thrillers to literary suspense.
But the Patterson phenomenon nagged at the back of my head.
His Master Class came up on one of my feeds but I didn’t bother. I’m sure those classes are useful and entertaining, but I’d started a curriculum for myself and it still seemed impossible that you could teach what he did.