OKAY, SO I WASN'T ALWAYS A THRILLER WRITER
Who was? I actually did major in English at Middlebury, but after an MBA from Columbia, and a stint at the Leslie Fay Companies, a women's clothing firm started by my grandfather, I went into the sports apparel field. I ended up president of HEAD Ski and Tennis (to brag: we grew to #1 in America in both businesses while I was there) and later, le coq sportif, a French sports fashion line. It was one-too-many turnaround situations or more precisely--one that didn't turn around, that hastened my writing career.
SO HOW'D YOU MEET JAMES PATTERSON?
Truth is, he called. Out of nowhere. An editor had given him the manuscript of a novel I was hoping to publish, HYDRA. At that point, I would have been elated if my gate guard (we live in a gated community) dialed in with a little praise. Jim said he had read the book and asked if we could meet for breakfast. He said he had several projects he wanted to write and not enough time to do them. I had the incredible foresight to say yes.
SO WHAT'S IT LIKE TO WORK WITH PATTERSON?
It was like a combination MFA and MBA rolled into one. He knows what kind of stories he wants to tell, has a keen sense of what will appeal to his readers, especially women, what's vital in a scene for it to succeed, knows exactly when the scene needs more--or generally, less! And he's an even better editor than he is a writer. Hopefully, I've learned a few things from him along the way.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
I figured we'd do one book. It led to six in seven years. The Women's Murder Club Series became one of the leading crime series of all time! My personal favorite was The Jester set in the thirteenth century in France. If you missed it, I really recommend you go back and take a read. Lifeguard had a great, likeable hero with the odds all stacked against him. Judge & Jury, our last together, is coming out July 31, 2006.
HOW DOES A WRITING PARTNERSHIP LIKE THAT WORK?
We alternate every word.
(Jim's line, actually.) To be honest, we always began with a concept and an outline that came from him, which we fleshed out into a detailed chapter- by-chapter outline. (Some chapters longer than in the actual book!) No writer's block here, the roadmap was always there. Every day, I knew exactly where I was going. That call from Jim changed my writing life!
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
In 2005, I signed a three book deal with William Morrow. The Blue Zone was published in Spring 2007, The Dark Tide will be on sale in March 2008, and stay tuned for number 3!
WHAT'S THE SINGLE, MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN A CAREER CHANGE LIKE THIS?
A supportive wife!
And I have one, in Lynn. Never once did she tell me I was out of my mind. (At least, not to my face!)
We live in Westchester County, New York. We have three terrific kids. Kristen's out of college, in the apparel biz, a natural. Matt's in college in D.C. And Nick, a squash player, goes to school in Connecticut. We share our house with a couple of Westies too.
By the way, having a Mom who believes in you all the way is good too!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS?
If I had to start with a couple of writerly things... Dog Soldiers, by Robert Stone, All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren, (Read it as a search for one's father, not as politics.) Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy & Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.
WHAT ABOUT IN YOUR OWN GENRE?
Sorry, Jim anything by Alan Furst or Robert Wilson. They both deserve much wider acclaim. When it comes to classic thrillers, The Wind-Chill Factor by Thomas Gifford and Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry are my favorites.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE?
"Some people think they can and some think they can't and they're probably both right!" Henry Ford
"You can do anything you want in life, anything, if you want to badly enough."
Fred P. Pomerantz. My grandfather.
WHAT IS THE BEST SIDE BENEFIT FROM SEEING YOUR NAME AT THE TOP OF THE BESTSELLER LIST?
A hell of a lot easier commute.
Find me on MySpace at: www.myspace.com/andrewgrossbooks