Top-selling author and Palm Beach resident James Patterson has written some of the most popular thriller, suspense and crime novels of the past dozen years. In fact, he holds a Guinness record for the most No. 1 New York Times bestsellers of any author. His works include Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, both of which became Hollywood hits. His latest novel, I, Michael Bennett, is a continuation in a series based on his well-known recurring character, who was inspired by the New York Police Department.
How is I, Michael Bennett different from your previous works?
It is the most personal of any Bennett I’ve written yet. Not only is Michael’s family—including his 10 children—in grave danger, but the book is partially set in my hometown of Newburgh, New York. Someone recently said to me that Newburgh is a “city of contradictions,” and I tried to show that in this book. It is a beautiful, historic city with a strong sense of community and brotherhood. It is also the murder capital of New York State and faces a tough uphill battle toward regeneration. But I know Newburgh will come back, and I wanted to show some of the city’s tenacity in this book.
What challenges have you overcome as a writer?
I don’t often think of writing as a challenge, because I’ve been lucky enough to find something I truly love to do—and I get paid to do it. What can be better than that? It isn’t always easy, but it’s always fun.
Who are your biggest influences?
I find inspiration and influences from many different places. But when I read James Joyce as a young man, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Reading Ulysses made me realize that I might not be able to write like Joyce, but I didn’t need to. I just needed to write the stories I was meant to tell, and I felt inspired to do so in a way I never had before. My love of storytelling came alive, and I set out to tell stories of my own.