Should We Blame James Patterson?

I was reading the latest Entertainment Weekly’s Books section yesterday — the time of the week when I spend 15 minutes with a knot in my stomach wondering (hoping) if Baby Grand will ever be profiled there — and it turns out that this issue’s column was a thriller roundup. Right up my alley.  The author of the article, Thom Geier, wrote that he blames best-selling author James Patterson for “spooking” everyone in the thriller writing business, saying that thriller writers are influenced by the prolific Patterson, who puts out a top-of-the-charts thriller every year, and what’s happening is that “ordinarily dependable writers” are turning out more schlock than shock in an effort to keep up the pace.

Of course, my husband was sitting next to me as I was reading and thought that Geier’s premise was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. “No one is holding a gun to their heads telling them they have to write a thriller every year?” he said. (Ooh, wouldn’t that be an interesting thriller premise!)

Maybe not (although you never know what’s in those publishing contracts…), but as I explained to him, probably ineffectively, is that I can understand the pressures of having to “keep up.” All of us feel it in one way or another — as a parent, a blogger, an industry professional or just as a learned person. But I think that my husband’s right (don’t tell him) that despite those pressures of the outside voices we need to listen to our own voices first and foremost:

Am I ready for my next book? I mean, really ready?

As my AP just told me in an email, I probably am not. She agreed with me that I am a HORRIBLE AP (the capitals are mine), but that the reason I’m stalling and scattered is because I’m not through with Baby Grand, and that my thoughts are still with those characters that I nurtured all summer long who still need me. And she’s right. I haven’t closed the book, so to speak, on that novel yet. Everything is still up in the air.

Was it premature of me to start a new book? Not necessarily, although it was silly to think I could dive headfirst into a new story with a clear head. The better place for In the Red, for now, is simmering on the back burner of my life, until I get the urge to give it a stir every now and again.

Let’s face it: The last thing I want to do is put out schlock. But if I did, the fault would not be in our best-selling thriller star, but in myself.

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One thought on “Should We Blame James Patterson?

  1. Just popped over from your comment on Writer Unboxed to see what you’re saying here. And nope, I don’t place blame on anyone else’s shoulders for what I write. That’s totally my responsibility. What I *don’t* want to do, however, is what Patterson is now doing, best seller or not. IMO, with a stable of co-writers producing what fills the shelves under his name, he’s churning out stories I no longer recognize as his. I miss his original voice. And that really is his fault.

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