Best-selling author Patterson reflects on success

Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:59pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When it comes to bestselling authors James Patterson is hard to beat. He has been called the busiest man in publishing and is the first author to achieve 10 million in ebook sales.

His thriller, "Mistress," soared to the top of the Publishers Weekly bestseller list shortly after its August release, where it spent three weeks.

Patterson, 66, spoke with Reuters about his unprecedented success, his characters and why he thinks his books are so popular.

Q: 'Mistress' was a recent No. 1 bestseller. Is that kind of benchmark getting old, or is it still a surprise?

A: I still get a kick out of it, but I'm not competitive. If it's number one I like that. If it isn't, I'm okay with it. So I can still be the first author and go, 'Wow, I'm published, and there's the book.' And that still is fun. It has never gotten old for me. I can't say it's a surprise. It would be if it wasn't even on the list, I'd go, 'Whaaat? It's not there, oh, we did something wrong.'

Q: Why do you think your books are so popular?

A: The three rules of this kind of fiction for me are story, story, story. I'm telling a story, and I sort of have the sense that I'm talking to one person and I don't want them to get up until I'm finished. And the books are emotional. I think I'm pretty emotional. I think that's one of my strengths and I think that comes through to people.

There are a lot of thrillers that are exciting, but there isn't much humanity to them. I do create characters that people are comfortable with and that they want to know what happened to them next. Even the villains, I think, there's just a humanity to them as diabolical as they may be, there's something recognizably human, which I think is one of the keys to creating villains that are interesting.   Continued...

Writer James Patterson poses to promote the new movie "Alex Cross" based on his novel "Cross" at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles, California, October 6, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman