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James Patterson (1947-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights

(James B. Patterson)


Born 1947, in Newburgh, NY; Education: Manhattan College, B.A. (English; summa cum laude), 1969; Vanderbilt University, M.A. (English; summa cum laude), 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Golf.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Little, Brown and Company, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.


Writer. J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, NY, junior copywriter, beginning 1971, vice president and associate creative supervisor of JWT/U.S.A., 1976, senior vice president and creative director of JWT/New York, 1980, executive creative director and member of board of directors, 1984, chair and creative director, 1987, and chief executive officer, 1988, chair of JWT/North America, 1990–96.

Honors Awards

Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, 1977, for The Thomas Berryman Number.



The Thomas Berryman Number, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1976, reprinted, Compass Press (Boston, MA), 1997.

The Season of the Machete, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1977, reprinted, 1997.

The Jericho Commandment, Crown (New York, NY), 1979, published as See How They Run, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Virgin, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1980, revised as Cradle and All, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Black Market, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1986, published as Black Friday, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.

The Midnight Club, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1989.

(With Peter de Jonge) Miracle on the 17th Green, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.

Hide and Seek, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.

When the Wind Blows, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

(With Peter de Jonge) The Beach House, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

The Lake House (sequel to When the Wind Blows), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

(With Andrew Gross) The Jester, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

(With Howard Roughan) Honeymoon, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Andrew Gross) Lifeguard, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.


First to Die, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

(With Andrew Gross) Second Chance, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

(With Andrew Gross) Third Degree, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Maxine Paetro) Fourth of July, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.


Along Came a Spider, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.

Kiss the Girls, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.

Jack and Jill, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.

Cat and Mouse, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1997.

Pop Goes the Weasel, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Roses Are Red, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Violets Are Blue, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Four Blind Mice, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

The Big Bad Wolf, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

London Bridges, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.

Mary, Mary, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.


SantaKid (picture book), illustrated by Michael Garland, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, Little Brown (New York, NY), 2005.


(With Peter Kim) The Day America Told the Truth: What People Really Believe about Everything That Matters (nonfiction), Prentice Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1991.

(With Peter Kim) The Second American Revolution (nonfiction), Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas (adult fiction), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Sam's Letters to Jennifer (adult fiction), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.


Kiss the Girls was produced by Paramount in 1997. Along Came a Spider was produced by Paramount, 2001, starring Morgan Freeman and directed by Lee Tamahori. Roses Are Red was adapted for film by Ben Ramsey. First to Die was adapted for an NBC television mini-series. Virgin was adapted as a television film titled Child of Darkness, Child of Light. Film rights to When the Wind Blows and Maximum Ride were sold to Warner Bros. Film rights to SantaKid and Honeymoon were sold to New Line Cinema. All Patterson's mystery novels have been adapted as audiobooks; Maximum Ride was adapted as an audiobook, read by Evan Rachel Wook, Time Warner AudioBooks, 2005.

Work in Progress

More novels.


A best-selling novelist whose "Alex Cross" mystery thrillers have won him a loyal following, James Patterson moved to fiction writing after a stellar career in advertising where, as former chair of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, he created advertising campaigns for Kodak, Toys 'R' Us, Burger King, and other companies. His first novel to crack the bestseller list was Along Came a Spider, the story of a crazed math teacher who kidnaps two of his students. In addition to introducing Cross, a black police psychologist, the novel marked the first of Patterson's books to be adapted as a feature film starring Morgan Freeman. Known for his addictive, fast-moving plots, Patterson dedicated his eighth "Alex Cross" mystery, Pop Goes the Weasel, to "the millions of Alex Cross readers who so frequently ask 'Can't you write faster?'"

In addition to his "Alex Cross" novels, Patterson has produced several other series novels, as well as mainstream novels, in his prolific career. When the Wind Blows and its sequel, The Lake House, proved to be a slight change of pace for the author because they combine a taut mystery with elements of science fiction. While written for an adult readership, When the Wind Blows focuses on a Colorado veterinarian who discovers a strange preteen named Max who is trying to avoid the group of thugs attempting to return her to a secret genetic research laboratory located nearby. As the novel continues, five other children—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel—are introduced, all half-human, half clones with extraordinary abilities. The Lake House continues the story, as the children confront a new threat in the form of a maniacal physician who wants to subject the young people to unpleasant forms of medical experimentation.

Learning that When the Wind Blows and The Lake House had gained him many teen readers, Patterson decided to rework Max's story in a book specifically geared for a young-adult audience. In Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment Max is now fourteen, and her five friends are discovering how to use the retractable wings and other super-abilities resulting from the bird DNA that was grafted onto their human genes. Orphans, the children were held in cages at a place known only as the "School"; since their escape they have lived in hiding, migrating to New York City in search of answers and hoping to escape the half-wolf Erasers who are hunting them down.

Dubbing Maximum Ride "an action-packed cross between Gertrude Chandler Warner's "Boxcar Children" and Marvel Comics' X-Men," Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin predicted that the novel would attract both teen and adult readers. Noting that the novel's "fast-moving plot" is conveyed primarily through Max's first-person narration, Sharon Rawlins praised the novel as a "compelling read," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "nonstop action" propels Patterson's "page-turner breathlessly from start to finish." While several reviewers noted that Maximum Ride leaves several questions unanswered, the Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that the novel closes, "leaving layers of mystery" for Patterson's planned sequel.

In his books for both teens and adults, Patterson is known for his high-speed plots and his tendency to avoid in-depth character development in favor of high-octane storytelling. As he explained to Steven Womak in a Bookpage.com interview, "I read Ulysses and figured I couldn't top that, so I never had any desire to write literary fiction." When he read William Peter Blat-ty's The Exorcist and Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal, "I went, 'Ooh! This is cool.'… And I set out to write that kid of book, the kind of book that would make an airplane ride disappear." In an interview posted on his Web site, Patterson explained that writing Maximum Ride and focusing on a younger audience was an expecially fulfilling experience. "I love the idea of getting people reading," he noted. "I know that a lot of kids are going to read this book and go 'books are cool.'

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 1, 1996, p. 30; September 1, 1997, p. 8; May 15, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, p. 1708; October 15, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Violets Are Blue, p. 356; January 1, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of Second Chance, p. 777; July, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Sam's Letters to Jennifer, p. 1799; February 1, 2005, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, p. 918.

Economist, December 13, 1997, p. 14.

Entertainment Weekly, September 6, 1996, p. 68; September 27, 1996, p. 75.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Second Chance, p. 1712; June 1, 2004, review of Sam's Letters to Jennifer, p. 513; April 1, 2005, review of Maximum Ride, p. 422.

Kliatt, March, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Maximimum Ride, p. 15.

Library Journal, October 1, 1997, p. 124; October 1, 2000, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Roses Are Red, p. 148; July 2001, Margaret Hanes, review of Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, p. 126.

Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1989.

New York Times, January 17, 1989, p. D19; July 24, 2001, Janet Maslin, "Love Story, or Is That Death Story?," p. 6; November 29, 2001, Janet Maslin, "Bodies Hang in California, and Bullets Fly in Florida," p. 7.

New York Times Book Review, May 14, 1989, p. 22; February 7, 1993.

People, October 7, 1996, p. 38; November 17, 1997, p. 38.

Publishers Weekly, September 16, 1996, p. 68; October 21, 1996, p. 58; October 13, 1997, p. 56; January 5, 1998, p. 28; August 2, 1999, review of Pop Goes the Weasel, p. 69; March 20, 2000, review of Cradle and All, p. 68; February 18, 2002, review of Second Chance, p. 75; March 18, 2002, Daisy Maryles and Dick Donahue, "Don't Get Mad, Get Even," p. 19; June 7, 2004, review of Sam's Letters to Jennifer, p. 33; July 12, 2004, Daisy Maryles, "A Passionate Patterson," p. 12; September 27, 2004, review of SantaKid, p. 60; March 21, 2005, review of Maximum Ride, p. 52.

School Library Journal, May, 2005, Sharon Rawlins, review of Maximum Ride, p. 135.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2005, Jenny Ingram, review of Maximum Ride, p. 60.


Bookpage.com, http://www.bookpage.com/ (April 2, 2002), Steven Womak, "Stretching the Boundaries of the Thriller" (interview).

James Patterson Web site, http://www.jamespatterson.com (September 17, 2005).

Additional topics

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