Saturday, March 1, 2014

James Patterson and Gregg Brickman

James Patterson and Gregg Brickman
By Randy Rawls

    Today, I'm happy to reprint a blog by a friend of mine here in South Florida, Gregg Brickman. You'll see why when you read it. It should have been reposted.
    For those not familiar with her work (yes, her), Gregg is an author of several novels available as ebooks or paper books. Her latest, the lord, came out in January. It's a mystery/thriller featuring a serial killer who labels himself as the lord. It's a proper combination of spookiness and hardnosed investigative work. Her other books are Imperfect Contract and Imperfect Daddy in the Sophia Burgess series and Illegally Dead. There are more to come.
    But the article she offered me is not about her books (or mine). It's about a night with James Patterson. I'm sure all of us have a well defined picture of Patterson. After all, he is the 1,000 pound gorilla in our business, having shoved aside all the 500 pound gorillas. Read and enjoy.

by Gregg Brickman

    I recently volunteered to help with a mega-book signing for James Patterson at Murder on the Beach. My husband was the gatekeeper, assuring all comers purchased a book to gain entrance. I guided people to seats in the store and took pictures.
    There has been a lot of chatter over the years about Patterson not writing his own books anymore and that he is selling his name. This is usually expressed with the same vehemence as if he were selling his soul.
    All jealousy aside, lots of people profit by selling their names—no physical presence required. Have you witnessed Don Shula serving meals in an establishment bearing his name? Or have you found Martha Stewart in a set of sheets or a can of paint? Or maybe Beyonce in a dress on the rack at your favorite store?
    Patterson said that he has 51 projects laid out in his office. He writes 80 page long outlines for each book he co-authors, then supervises the writing, getting a progress report every three weeks or so. That way he can pull the book back on track if needed. I'm not sure that I'd want to write books that way, but I'd love to have the choice. He has that choice, and I dare say he earned it.
    We were told to expect him to talk about ten minutes and then spend the remainder of his time signing books. I also learned that his contract from the publicist specified no pictures.
    Patterson spoke for over thirty minutes and graciously took questions. He was an animated, expressive, and entertaining speaker.
    One question concerned his line of children's books. He talked for a time about the absolute necessity of children learning to read and the focus he and his wife have in that area. Writing quality children's books is part of that effort.
    While signing books, he posed with each person who wanted a picture, asking them to wait until he finished his signature so he could pose with each person. He took his time and chatted with his fans.
    Then he posed with those working the event and took individual pictures with us as well.
    I found Patterson to be personable and forthcoming, creating a pleasant evening and a friendly environment for all.
                                                                                   Gregg and James Patterson


Barry Knister said...

Putting aside questions of art versus product (Patterson has always described himself as product-oriented, not as an artist),I think the best historical counterpart would be Peter Paul Rubens. Yes, he was a consummate artist of genius, but he also made more money from his art than anyone in history. He did it by employing assistants. Rubens would sketch out a work (Patterson's outline), and leave completion to "the help." This is more or less what Patterson does.

Kaye George said...

What a nice experience! Thanks for a report on the softer side of Patterson.

Morgan Mandel said...

Sounds like he does a lot of work, and is very organized!

Also, a nice person!

I could never be that organized. Anyway, I try to be a nice person to make up for it!

Morgan Mandel

Randy Rawls said...

I admit I was in the camp that was surprised by Gregg's experience. I had several other friends at the signing and they reported essentially the same. Guess it proves one more time I shouldn't judge a person until I meet them.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, Randy. Like you, I was surprised by his willingness to go above and beyond for fans. I couldn't produce books using his methods, but he approaches it as a business and he's a great success at it. You have to respect him on both those fronts.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Good for him!

Randy Rawls said...

Yeah, Earl. Just the thought of writing an 80 page outline makes me want to hide under the bed.