Bestselling Australian author Kathryn Fox writes about the events leading up to her collaboration with James Patterson
Eleven years ago, I was an author with a debut novel close to release. I was also an avid fan of crime fiction, which is what inspired me to write in the first place. James Patterson was one of my favourite authors.
When I heard he was coming to Sydney for a visit, I couldn’t wait to hear whatever pearls he may have for his fans and budding writers.
I knew the bookseller who hosted the evening and was thrilled to just be there. After James delivered a captivating talk, this bookseller held up an advanced copy of Malicious Intent and asked if James would be interested in reading an exciting new Australian crime author.
I held my breath. This hadn’t been why I was there. I felt bad for James, who graciously accepted the book and said he would read it. The poor man had been on a gruelling schedule and was flying out at 6am the following morning.
After the event, I had my copy of his book signed, and waited to apologise for my novel being foisted on him. While I assured him I didn’t expect him to read it, he kept his hand on the cover, not letting it go.
We chatted as he relaxed with a well-earned glass of red. Despite the early morning start to follow, he was incredibly kind and generous with his time and advice. We talked as staff cleaned the venue.
The following morning I was off to the surgery for my day job as a General Practitioner. The bookseller called to say that the copy of Malicious Intent had been returned via courier. We assumed James hadn’t had time to read it, but were touched that he had thought to return it, let alone at his expense.
I was lucky that I’d had at least some time with the absolute master of pace and thrillers while he was in the country. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Then the bookseller told me to wait. There was a letter inside the book.
On it was a testimonial handwritten in pencil. I listened with a drilling in my chest. James Patterson liked my book! Not only that, but he’d generously written a testimonial, knowing it would be used for marketing purposes. That meant he was helping my career get off to an incredible start.
I don’t remember if I cried or squealed. One thing was certain. It was going to be framed and hung on the wall at home, where it still hangs. My publisher couldn’t believe it! They wanted chose to use the quote, “Kathryn Fox has created a character readers of Patricia Cornwell will adore.”
Little did I know that attending the signing as a fan to James Patterson fan would have so much influence in my life. Four or five years and four books later, I was lucky to attend the International Thriller Writers Festival in NY. James Patterson had star billing.
I eagerly lined up to have his latest book signed. The queue by other authors to meet the man snaked for half a floor of conference level. Nervously, I introduced myself, having no expectation he’d remember our first encounter.
He did more than that. He said he preferred the Australian covers of my books to the US or UK versions.
After seven novels, I received an email one Friday night. James Patterson was asking if I’d like to co-write a book with him. After re-reading the message multiple times, this time I was in shock. It didn’t take long to respond with a yes.
Then reality hit. I was about to collaborate with the world’s biggest selling author. Even so, it was time to do a pros and cons list.
Pros: Learning from a master storyteller, the author who could teach just about everything there is to learn about pace. And this was the man who had been extraordinarily kind at the beginning of my career, not to mention someone I greatly respected and admired.
Cons: There weren’t any.
This is actually the second book in the series, so for Private Sydney, the characters were already established. I developed the initial plot outline. We discussed it in detail, made changes and adaptations. I wrote the first draft, James worked on that, and the process continued until we came to the final version.
We caught up in person again on his recent trip to Australia, eleven years after our first meeting. I was still a fan but this time I was also a collaborator. That was pretty special.
And the bookseller who originally showed James my first book feels proud to have contributed to the ‘birth’ of Private Sydney. I have him, and a lot of other people to be grateful for.
I hope readers enjoy this labour of love!
Oh, and I can’t wait to see what the next eleven years brings…
By James Patterson & Kathryn Fox
The world’s bestselling thriller writer teams up with Australia’s bestselling crime writer for the latest action-packed instalment of the PRIVATE series.
Even for Private Investigations, the world’s top detective agency, it’s tough to find a man who doesn’t exist . . .
Craig Gisto has promised Eliza Moss that his elite team at Private Sydney will investigate the disappearance of her father. After all, as the CEO of a high-profile research company, Eric Moss shouldn’t be difficult to find.
Except it’s not just the man who’s gone missing, all evidence he ever existed has vanished too. And there are powerful figures pulling the strings who want Moss to stay ‘lost’.
But when a woman is found brutally murdered and a baby is missing, Private are suddenly drawn into another frantic search. And this is a case Craig has to throw everything into, because he may well be responsible for sending the killer straight to the victim’s door . . .
‘It’s no mystery why James Patterson is the world’s most popular thriller writer . . . Simply put: nobody does it better.’ Jeffery Deaver