James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell: Author One-on-One In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together blockbuster authors James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell and asked them to interview each other. Find out what two of the top authors of their genres have to say about their characters, writing process, and more.
Patricia Cornwell is the former Director of Applied Forensic Science at the National Forensic Academy, and a member of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital's National Council, where she is an advocate for psychiatric research. She is the author of sixteen previous Kay Scarpetta mysteries, five non-Scarpetta novels (including At Risk), and Portrait of a Killer. Read on to see Patricia Cornwell's questions for James Patterson, or turn the tables to see what Patterson asked Cornwell.
Cornwell: James, your questions were so good, I'm going to ask you similar ones. Let's start with why you write? Do you love it or love having done it? What motivates you?
Patterson: I truly love writing. I sometimes think about my grandfather when I reflect on this. When I was a boy, I lived in a town on the Hudson River. During the summers, my grandfather would take me once a week on his frozen food and ice cream delivery route. We'd be up at four in the morning packing up the truck, and by five we'd be on our way. Driving a delivery truck isn't the most glamorous job in the world, but every morning, my grandfather would drive over the Storm King Mountain toward West Point, and he'd be singing at the top of his voice. And he told me this: "Jim," he said, "when you grow up, I don't care if you're a truck driver or a famous surgeon—just remember that when you go over the mountain to work in the morning, you've got to be singing." Writing stories keeps me singing. Writing to me isn't work, and I like that a ton.
Cornwell: What is your routine when you're facing your next novel? What is the process like for you, and what is your favorite part of it? Least favorite?
Patterson: I like to have a lot of ideas in the air at one time. I've got around 20 manuscripts sitting in my office right now, in some degree of completion. It's a lot of material, a lot of stories. My least favorite part? Hmm. Maybe sharpening pencils? Actually, I’ve always kind of liked sharpening pencils. I don’t mean to seem too over the top about this, but I really wouldn’t change any of it.
Cornwell: What do you and Alex Cross have in common? How are you different?
Patterson: We're both family-oriented guys. I think it's a real treat to be able to get along with your wife every day, which I do; my wife and I really have trouble being apart for very long. And I think readers will agree Alex is generally doing better in the romance department. One difference between us would be that I'm much more content to sit around and write. I think Alex would get a little bored on a "ride-along" with me.
Cornwell: What inspired you to create Alex Cross?
Patterson: Hardly anyone knows it but when I started the first Alex Cross novel, Alex was a woman named Alexis. After 100 pages or so, I changed the character to Alex. When I was a kid growing up, my grandparents had a small restaurant and the cook was an African-American woman who eventually moved into our house. All through my growing up period I spent a lot of time with this woman's family. -- From Amazon.com Amazon.com Review