Describe your latest book.
My new thriller is called The Store
. It’s about a not-so-unrealistic future in which a powerful retailer, called The Store, anticipates your every need and delivers straight to your door. The main characters, Jacob and Megan Brandeis, are writers whose careers are being destroyed by the power of this online giant. They go undercover to discover The Store’s secrets, and what they find puts both of their lives at risk.
is a radical book, and it’s a scary one, too. The book is scary and the world is scarier. I can easily envision a future where people stay in their houses and look at screens all day long. We’re dealing with drones and fulfillment centers and a world that’s being controlled more and more by artificial intelligence.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I really loved comic books as a little kid, and also Treasure Island
, Peter Pan
, and weirdly, Lord of the Flies
What does your writing workspace look like?
I’m happiest when I’m in my office writing in longhand and looking up occasionally at the water. Each time I do, the ocean is a different color and texture. It’s like owning a great painting that changes shapes and colors all day long.
What do you care about more than most people around you?
Literacy. A lot of people just don’t think of literacy as being a big problem anymore. I think about what I can do to promote children’s literacy all the time. Writing kids’ books under my children’s book imprint, JIMMY Patterson, is one of the ways I do that, and giving money to schools and independent bookstores is another. Kids often need a push in the right direction, and parents and teachers are the people that kids look to for that push.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
Readers often reach out to me, but what I most enjoy are letters from kids. When kids tell me that they started reading because they loved one of my books, that’s the best feeling in the world. I also get the nicest and most thoughtful thank you letters from indie bookstore employees (even some from Powell’s!) about my Christmas bonuses. They give me a feel for what it’s like out there. I’ll get a letter that says, “Thank you so much for the bonus because it allowed me to go to the dentist.” That’s the reality for some booksellers. In many cases, you have people out there working hard and making very little.
Tell us something you're embarrassed to admit.
I’m not a huge Star Wars
or Star Trek
fan, though I think everyone expects to me to be. I like reading science fiction, but it doesn’t always translate to the big screen for me.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
by Evan S. Connell.
Besides your personal library, do you have any beloved collections?
Not a one. Zero. I’m not very materialistic.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I worked at McLean Hospital, a mental institution in Belmont, Massachusetts, when I was just out of high school. That summer, James Taylor was a patient, and he used to hold informal mini-concerts in the hospital cafeteria a couple times a week. Ray Charles came in for a weekend as part of the deal he made after a drug conviction in Boston — before he could appear in concert, he had to check into Mclean for a few days. Ray Charles had nothing better to do during his visits but play the piano and sing. Robert Lowell was a patient, and he used to hold poetry readings in his room for the three psychiatric aides (myself included) who hoped to be writers someday. Hell of a summer job!
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
My family and I recently visited Cuba, where we toured Ernest Hemingway
’s house. Hemingway isn’t my favorite writer, but it’s impossible to deny his impact on literature. Being in that space was a powerful feeling.
What scares you the most as a writer?
I’ve never had a hard time coming up with storylines — if anything, I probably come up with too many. I’m sure that I won’t have enough time to tell them all, but I’m doing my best to get them all out there.
Name a guilty pleasure you partake in regularly.
I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure, but I often write with music playing in the background: Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, and Lorde. I’m not sure if that comes through in my writing or not, but it helps get me in the zone.
What's the best advice you’ve ever received?
The most memorable advice I’ve received came from a creative writing professor when I was an undergraduate. He told me, “You write well enough, but stay away from fiction.”
Share a Top Five book list of your choice.
It’s hard to make a Top Five list of anything, let alone of books. I think each of these titles had a hand in shaping the kind of writer — and person, really — that I am. I read each of them at different times in my life, but they’ve all stuck with me.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
The Day of the Jackal
by Frederick Forsyth
and Mr. Bridge
by Evan S. Connell
÷ ÷ ÷
has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today with his Alex Cross
, Michael Bennett
, Women's Murder Club
, NYPD Red
, Daniel X
, Maximum Ride
, and Middle School
series. As of January 2016, he has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times
bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, he also writes children's, middle-grade, and YA fiction, and is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times
adult and children's bestsellers lists. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife, Sue, and son, Jack. The Store
is his most recent book.