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James Patterson On Writing All Those Books

May 27, 2009 (All Things Considered)

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The claim is this: that nobody has his name on more books than James Patterson. If you've read a best-seller list or visited an airport bookstore, you've probably run across his name.

This year, Patterson will release nine books, including his latest, Swimsuit. And, as the author tells Michele Norris, he still has more manuscripts in reserve.

"There are, right now, 29 manuscripts sitting there [in my office] in some degree of completion," says Patterson. "It's a lot of material, a lot of stories."

To turn out so many books, Patterson works with a handful of co-writers. Typically, Patterson will research a subject and create an extensive outline, which he then hands off to a co-writer. After he gets back a first draft, he'll do anywhere from two to nine additional drafts until he is satisfied with the finished work.

He admits that the process is a little unusual in the world of publishing, but he adds that "almost all TV shows ... are done by teams of writers. It's not as unusual as people think it is."

Patterson, who writes in longhand and has an assistant type his manuscripts, says that he is able to work anywhere — even when he's on the road. "I literally can sit down anywhere. I'll just sit among the passengers in the airport lounge and I'll be scribbling."

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By James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown and Co.
Hardcover, 416 pages
List price: $27.99

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