James Patterson

James Brendan Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is an American author and philanthropist. Among his works are the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, NYPD Red, Witch and Wizard, and Private series, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction and romance novels. His books have sold more than 300 million copies[1] and he was the first person to sell 1 million e-books.[2] In 2016, Patterson topped Forbes's list of highest-paid authors for the third consecutive year, with an income of $95 million.[3] His total income over a decade is estimated at $700 million.[4]

James Patterson
BornJames Brendan Patterson
(1947-03-22) March 22, 1947
Newburgh, New York, U.S.
ResidencePalm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Alma materManhattan College
Vanderbilt University
GenreMystery, young adult fiction, thriller, comedy, realistic fiction, romance
Notable worksAlex Cross series
Women's Murder Club series
Maximum Ride series
Michael Bennett series
Middle School series
I Funny series
SpouseSusan Patterson
ChildrenJack Patterson

In November 2015, Patterson received the Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation, which cited him as a "passionate campaigner to make books and reading a national priority. A generous supporter of universities, teachers colleges, independent bookstores, school libraries, and college students, Patterson has donated millions of dollars in grants and scholarships with the purpose of encouraging Americans of all ages to read more books."[5]

Early life

Patterson was born on March 22, 1947, in Newburgh, New York, the son of Isabelle (Morris), a homemaker and teacher, and Charles Patterson, an insurance broker.[6][7] He graduated summa cum laude with both a B.A. in English from Manhattan College and an M.A. in English from Vanderbilt University.[8]


Patterson was a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt[9] but acquired a job in advertising. He was an advertising executive at J. Walter Thompson.[8] After he retired from advertising in 1996,[10] he devoted his time to writing.[11] His greatest influence, he said later, was probably Evan S. Connell's 1959 debut novel Mrs. Bridge.[9] He published his first novel in 1976 called The Thomas Berryman Number. The novels featuring his character Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist formerly of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation, who now works as a private psychologist and government consultant, are his most popular and the top-selling U.S. detective series in the past ten years. Patterson has written 147 novels since 1976.[12] He has had 114 New York Times bestselling novels,[13] and holds The New York Times record for most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, a total of 67, which is also a Guinness World Record. His novels account for one in 17, roughly 6%, of all hardcover novels sold in the United States; in recent years his novels have sold more copies than those of Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dan Brown combined.[14] His books have sold approximately 305 million copies worldwide.[1] In 2008, he replaced Jacqueline Wilson as the most borrowed author in Britain's libraries.[15] He retained this position at least until 2013.[16] In 2018, he worked with Stephen David Entertainment on the true crime television series James Patterson's Murder Is Forever.

Patterson's awards include the Edgar Award, the BCA Mystery Guild's Thriller of the Year, the International Thriller of the Year award,[13] and the Children's Choice Book Award for Author of the Year. He is the first author to have No. 1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children's bestsellers lists, and to have two books on NovelTrackr's top-ten list at the same time. He appeared on the Fox TV show The Simpsons (in the episode "Yokel Chords") and in various episodes of Castle as himself.

Patterson works with a variety of co-authors,[17] such as Candice Fox, Maxine Paetro, Andrew Gross, Mark Sullivan, Ashwin Sanghi, Michael Ledwidge, and Peter de Jonge.[18] In May 2017, it was announced that Patterson would also co-author a crime fiction book with former U.S. President Bill Clinton.[19] Patterson said the novel, The President Is Missing, will provide a level of detail that only a former U.S. President can offer.[20] Patterson has often said that collaborating with others brings new and interesting ideas to his stories. Of his process, he has stated that he is simply more proficient at dreaming up plots than crafting sentence after sentence.[21]

In September 2009, Patterson signed a deal to write or co-write 11 books for adults and 6 for young adults by the end of 2012. Forbes reported the deal was worth at least $150 million, but according to Patterson the estimate was inaccurate.[22]

Patterson founded the James Patterson PageTurner Awards in 2005 to donate over $100,000 that year to people, companies, schools, and other institutions that find original and effective ways to spread the excitement of books and reading.[23] The PageTurner Awards were put on hold in 2008 to focus on Patterson's new initiative, ReadKiddoRead.com, which helps parents, teachers, and librarians find the best books for their children. The social networking site for ReadKiddoRead is hosted by Ning. Patterson states that his own son, Jack, wasn't the best reader in the class. So, in Jack's 8th summer, Patterson said that Jack did not need to do chores, just read 1 hour a day. The first summer, he resisted, the second summer, he accepted it, and the third, Jack wanted to. Patterson wanted to give that opportunity to every child, so he started the ReadKiddoRead website, for parents who just can't seem to find any good books for their child. Patterson has also set up the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarship in the schools of education at Appalachian State University,[24] Michigan State University,[25] Florida Atlantic University,[26] and the University of Florida.[27] Patterson also runs the College Book Bucks scholarship program.


Patterson has been criticized for co-authoring many of his books[28] and for being more of a brand that focuses on making money than an artist who focuses on his craft.[29]

In an interview for USA Weekend, Stephen King referred to Patterson as "a terrible writer but he's very successful."[30] King also implied, while being asked on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert about how many hours it takes him to write a book, that Patterson needed only twelve hours for two books, noting he and Patterson had "a mutual respect – sort of".[31] Patterson said of King in a Wall Street Journal interview, "He's taken shots at me for years. It's fine, but my approach is to do the opposite with him—to heap praise."[32]

Legal thriller writer Lisa Scottoline said in a review of Patterson's Kill Alex Cross, "They used to say that 50 million Elvis Presley fans couldn't be wrong, and James Patterson makes 50 million fans look like a good start. He has sold more than 230 million books, and his fans aren't wrong, either."[33]

In 2013 Patterson took out ads titled “Who Will Save Our Books? Our Bookstores? Our Libraries?" in Publishers Weekly and The New York Times Book Review, which employed the text "If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature? Who will discover and mentor new writers? Who will publish our important books? What will happen if there are no more books like these?"[34] Patterson called the ads an attempt to "stir the pot a little bit."[35] Digital Book World called the ads, "refreshing, really. And brave."[36] Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association, told the Tampa Bay Times she was in the process of writing James Patterson a thank-you letter.[37]

In 2017, digital humanities scholars Simon Fuller and James O'Sullivan published research showing that Patterson does not do much actual writing when collaborating with other authors.[38][39] O'Sullivan writes: "Patterson is all about story... 'author', in its widely accepted sense, isn’t always the most appropriate term for his role within the writing process."[40][41][42] O'Sullivan would later go on to conduct the same analysis on The President is Missing, a collaboration between Patterson and Bill Clinton; here O'Sullivan concludes that Patterson did most of the writing, aside from the end of the novel.[43]

Personal life

Patterson, his wife Susan (Sue), and their son Jack live in Palm Beach, Florida.[44] In 2015, Patterson established the James Patterson Pledge with Scholastic Book Clubs to put books in the hands of young readers.[45]



Title Year Film / TV Extra Information
Child of Darkness, Child of Light 1991 TV Child of Darkness, Child of Light was adapted from the novel Virgin (republished as Cradle and All).
Kiss the Girls 1997 Film Forensic detective/author Alex Cross investigates the disappearance of his niece from her North Carolina campus, and learns seven other women are also missing.[46]
Miracle on the 17th Green 1999 TV A 50-year-old adman (Robert Urich) loses his job. Rather than facing trying to find a new job, he decides to try to make it on the senior golf tour. This causes him to neglect his wife (Meredith Baxter), who dies, and his family.
Along Came a Spider 2001 Film After a botched sting operation in which his partner dies, Washington, D.C. homicide detective Alex Cross is through playing mind games with criminals—that is, until a methodical predator, Gary Soneji, kidnaps the young daughter of a United States senator from an elite school and lures Cross into the case. Soneji's not out for ransom, he wants something much bigger—a place in the history books. His every move is planned with the precision of a spider spinning his web. Cross and secret service agent Jezzie Flannigan are in a race against time to stop him.[47]
1st to Die 2003 TV Based on James Patterson's bestseller, this three-hour thriller is about a homicide inspector—Lindsay Boxer (Tracy Pollan) – who teams with three other professional women to catch an ingenious serial killer targeting newlyweds on their wedding nights. But while Boxer is trying to solve the biggest case of her career, she is also falling in love with her partner (Gil Bellows) – and privately waging her own battle with a life-threatening illness.
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas 2005 TV Based on Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas this tells two interwoven stories both featuring poet Matthew Harrison (Johnathon Schaech). One is told from the point of view of Katie Wilkinson (Kathleen Rose Perkins), a New York City book editor, whose relationship with Matthew ends suddenly. The other looks at Matthew's relationship with his wife, Suzanne (Christina Applegate), whose diaries Katie reads.
Women's Murder Club 2007-2008 TV Based on James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series, this TV series revolved around San Francisco homicide Inspector Lindsay Boxer (Angie Harmon) and her three friends: Assistant District Attorney Jill Bernhardt, Medical Examiner Claire Washburn, and reporter Cindy Thomas.
James Patterson's Sundays at Tiffany's 2010 TV Alyssa Milano stars as a successful businesswoman who, as a young girl, would accompany her mother Vivian (Stockard Channing) to Tiffany's in New York every Sunday and bring along an imaginary friend, Michael. She is set to marry her handsome fiancé (Ivan Sergei), until her childhood imaginary friend (Eric Winter) reappears to warn her about the path her life is on. Initially shocked and in disbelief, she slowly realizes he may be her one true love.[48]
Alex Cross 2012 Film Based on the book Cross, this film was distributed by Summit Entertainment and directed by Rob Cohen. It stars Tyler Perry in the title role of Alex Cross, and was released on October 19, 2012.
Zoo 2015 TV Drama series based on the 2012 novel of the same name by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life 2016 Film This children's film centers around lead character Rafe Khatchadorian's middle school years.[49]
Instinct 2018 TV This police procedural television series,[50][51] based on Murder Games,[52][53][54][55] premiered on March 18, 2018 on CBS, and focuses on openly gay author, university professor and former CIA paramilitary officer Dr. Dylan Reinhart (Alan Cumming) and New York police detective Elizabeth Needham (Bojana Novakovic).[56]


  1. "Author James Patterson giving $1M to independent bookstores". USA Today. February 19, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  2. First author to sell more than 1 million e-books:
    On 6 July 2010, the Hachette Book Group announced that James Patterson (USA), creator of the Alex Cross and Women's Murder Club series of novels, was the first author to exceed one million sales in e-books, moving 1.14 million units of his books for devices like Kindle and the iPad.
  3. Forbes’s highest-paid authors 2016 (in US dollars), The Guardian, 3 August 2016
  4. "James Patterson – The Richest Author in the World". notjustrich.com. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  5. "James Patterson honored with 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community".
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Isabelle (Morris) Patterson's Obituary on The Lexington Minuteman".
  8. Rivera, Jeff (November 24, 2010). "So What Do You Do, James Patterson, Bestselling Novelist?". Mediabistro. Archived from the original on August 3, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  9. Patterson, James (December 8, 2009). "The Unexamined Life Examined In Mrs. Bridge". NPR. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  10. Mahler, Jonathan (January 20, 2010). "James Patterson Inc". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  11. Gaby Wood (April 5, 2009). "The Guardian". The Guardian. London. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  12. "James Patterson – The official web site".
  13. "New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  14. Jonathan Mahler, "James Patterson Inc." The New York Times, January 20, 2010
  15. Lea, Richard (February 8, 2008). "James Patterson stamps out library competition". The Guardian. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  16. "Library lending figures: which books are most popular?". February 8, 2013.
  17. "James Patterson's Kentucky fried books". The Telegraph. London. February 8, 2008. Former advertising guru James Patterson, the most loaned author at British libraries last year, employs ghost writers to help pen the thrillers that make him $40m a year.
  18. McGrath, Charles (May 5, 2009). "An Author's Collaborator Goes It Alone". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  19. Alter, Alexandra (May 8, 2017). "James Patterson and Bill Clinton Team Up to Write a Novel". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  20. Andreeva, Nellie (September 22, 2017). "Bill Clinton & James Patterson's Novel 'The President Is Missing' Lands At Showtime For TV Series Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  21. Laming, Scott (2012). "Top 10 Ghostwritten Books". AbeBooks.com. AbeBooks.
  22. Donahue, Deirdre; Wilson, Craig; Minzesheimer, Bob (September 16, 2009). "Book Buzz: What's new on the list and in publishing". USA Today. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  23. James Patterson's PageTurner Awards Archived May 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  24. "Author James Patterson creates scholarship at Appalachian for future teachers". Appalachian State University News. June 11, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  25. "James Patterson funds MSU scholarships for future teachers". Michigan State University News. June 5, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  26. "FAU College of Education Receives Gift from Author James Patterson". Florida Atlantic University. August 14, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  27. "James Patterson Scholars". University of Florida. June 3, 2015. Archived from the original on August 28, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017..
  28. "James Patterson, the Best Seller Who Doesn't Write His Own Books". Express. February 26, 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  29. "Patterson keeps cranking out novels, ignoring his critics". Boston Globe. January 25, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  30. Flood, Alison (February 5, 2009). "Twilight author Stephenie Meyer 'can't write worth a darn', says Stephen King". The Guardian. London.
  31. "Stephen King The Late Show with Stephen Colbert". youtube.com. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  32. "James Patterson Explains Why His Books Sell Like Crazy". Wall Street Journal. March 30, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  33. Scottoline, Lisa (November 12, 2011). "Patterson's 'Kill Alex Cross' is thriller with family at its heart". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  34. "James Patterson Speaks Out About His Aggressive "Book Industry Bailout" Ads". Salon.com. April 24, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  35. "Patterson Sees Ads as a Wake Up Call". Publisher's Weekly. April 24, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  36. "An Open Letter to James Patterson on Bravery, Optimism, and the Future of Books". Digital Book World. April 26, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  37. "Author James Patterson campaigns to save books". Tampa Bay Times. April 26, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  38. "Structure over Style: Collaborative Authorship and the Revival of Literary Capitalism". Digital Humanities Quarterly. 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  39. Lane, Anthony (June 18, 2018). "Bill Clinton and James Patterson's Concussive Collaboration". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  40. "Why you don't need to write much to be the world's bestselling author". The Conversation. April 3, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  41. "Does the worlds bestselling author write his own books?". newstalk.com. Archived from the original on April 20, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  42. "James Patterson: Is the world's bestselling author the main writer?". The Independent. April 4, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  43. O'Sullivan, James (June 7, 2018). "Bill Clinton and James Patterson are co-authors – but who did the writing?". The Guardian. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
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  47. "Along Came a Spider synopsis". Movies.yahoo.com. April 6, 2001. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
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  49. Cash, Tambrei (October 10, 2015). "GA Casting Calls". Georgia Casting Calls. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  50. Ausiello, Michael; Ausiello, Michael (May 12, 2017). "CBS Orders Boreanaz' Seal Team, Moore's S.W.A.T., Cumming's Instinct, Piven's Wisdom, Plus 2 Comedies". TVLine. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  51. Goldberg, Lesely (January 23, 2017). "Alan Cumming-James Patterson Drama Among CBS Pilot Pickups". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles: Eldridge Industries.
  52. Lewis, Andy (May 10, 2017). "Bill Clinton's Debut Novel Hunting for Film Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  53. Lesnick, Silas (May 18, 2017). "CBS Sets Instinct Starring Alan Cumming". CommgSoon.net. United States: AtomicMedia. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  54. Patterson, James (2017). Murder Games. New York City: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0316273961.
  55. "Alan Cumming Stars in Killer Instinct Pilot From James Patterson Picked Up by CBS". Vulture. New York City: New York Media, LLC. January 23, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  56. "Instinct: About the Show". cbspressexpress.com. CBS. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
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