James Patterson gives us a glimpse into collaborating with Dolly Parton on their forthcoming novel, “Run, Rose, Run.”
James Patterson is known around the world as one of the greatest authors of all time. With over 100 books on the New York Times Best Sellers list, it’s no wonder Dolly Parton was thrilled to receive a personal invitation from James to co-author a novel with him.
These two creative geniuses have combined their talents to bring us something incredibly special. In this interview, James tells us about the writing process and shares what it was like to collaborate with the world’s most beloved entertainment icon on “Run, Rose, Run.”
You have written well over 100 New York Times bestsellers, and you’re widely known as one of the most diverse writers of our time. What was your inspiration for this particular book?
I’d always admired what Dolly does to get people reading–adults and kids. Dolly’s also a gifted storyteller. Every one of her songs is a story. I thought we’d make a good team. As it turned out–I was right. I’m enjoying being on Team Dolly.
Did you develop the plot or the characters first?
I don’t think you can separate the plot and the characters. Dolly and I developed both in layers, or drafts. The plot kept getting thicker, and the characters kept getting more complex and interesting. I think readers are going to really enjoy our book.
Who is your favorite character in Run, Rose, Run?
It would have to be a tie between Ruthanna and AnnieLee. Ethan wouldn’t be far behind. One of my rules is that you have to be incredibly involved with your heroes–and really despise the villains.
What was it like to collaborate with one of the world’s most beloved superstars, and what was your favorite part about the process?
My joke about Dolly and everyone who works with her is that they’re incredibly nice, incredibly smart and relentless. Man, do I love that. My grandmother used to say, ‘Hungry dogs run faster.’ I think Dolly and I are hungry, in a good way.
What is your typical process for co-authoring a book?
I don’t have a “typical” process for co-authoring, but it usually starts with a long outline, which goes through several drafts. One of my jokes is that the other author and I alternate words. The one thing that always holds true is that the co-authors and I work really hard to make the best book we can. I know that’s what happened with “Run, Rose, Run.”
You and Dolly share a passion for literacy. You are known for campaigning to make books and reading a national priority. When was this passion ignited in you, and how has it affected your approach to writing?
Whenever I appear at a school or conference for librarians or teachers, I’ll say 'I’m here to save lives.' That’s what happens when you get kids reading at grade level. It gives them a chance to finish high school and go to college, if that’s appropriate, and get a better job when they get older. My mom was a teacher, and she always told the kids at school that she was there to help them look through windows, not look in mirrors.
Has music been an integral part of your life?
Yes, indeed. I like country, but I’m a rock n’ roll junkie. I was actually at Woodstock–and I was an usher for nearly two years at the Fillmore East. When I was at Vanderbilt, I also spent a few evenings at the original Grand Ole Opry.
When did you start writing?
I think when I was a year and a half. But you probably mean when did I start writing stories. I think I started composing them in my head when I was four or five. I started writing them down on paper when I was fourteen or fifteen.
Who has been the most influential person in your life with regard to your love of writing?
About a thousand unbelievably talented novelists and non-fiction writers who I’ve read–but in particular, my grandmother. She told me I could do anything I wanted to do–except maybe play basketball in the NBA. Actually, she didn’t say ‘maybe.’
Both you and Dolly are philanthropists. Is there a charity or cause that you are especially passionate about?
I concentrate on charities that help kids become better readers, help bookstores to survive and help students who want to be teachers get through school without too much debt.
Now available for pre-order, the “Run, Rose, Run” novel will be published simultaneously in hardcover, ebook and audiobook and will release on March 7. The album, also available for pre-order, is slated for a March 4 release.