Author James Patterson with Kidsday reporters at BookCon in Manhattan....

Author James Patterson with Kidsday reporters at BookCon in Manhattan. Kidsday reporters are Lindsey Galligan, left, Lillian Musso, Isabel Connolly and Faith Cairo. They are students at Latin School at Kellenberg Memorial High School.
  Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

More than 350 million books sold worldwide, Guinness World Record for most New York Bestsellers, seven books adapted for the big screen, and the Literarian Award. These are just some of the accomplishments of the award-winning author, James Patterson. He has written several books in various genres from mystery to children’s books. He first found success as an author in 1976 with “The Thomas Berryman Number,” which won him the Edgar Award. The Edgar Award is a top award for mystery writers.

His first book won an award, but he continued working in his advertising company until 1993 when he wrote “Along Came a Spider,” another mystery. This book turned into a series and was eventually turned into a movie. He has been able to work with the Albert Einstein Estate and even former President Bill Clinton. Patterson's wife, Susan, and a son, Jack, are both authors, too. Jack was actually the inspiration for Patterson to start writing children’s books. Patterson wanted every child to love reading and hopes that after reading his books kids ask for more. He even started a website to promote this idea. Of course, anyone who can get some of us kids to say, “Please give me another book” is quite an amazing author. That is his main goal, that reading is not something dreaded but celebrated. Patterson also promotes reading by donating millions to libraries and book stores. He has a lot of children’s books including “Max Einstein,” the "Middle School" series, and his most recent “Katt vs. Dogg.”

We got the amazing opportunity to meet this Patterson at the Book Expo at the Javits Center. He found time in his busy schedule of book signings and meet and greets to answer some of our questions. One of the first questions asked was how old were you when you wrote your first book? Patterson answered he was luckily able to publish his first book, “The Thomas Berryman Number,” at the age of 26. The book won the Edgar Award which was quite confusing to Patterson since it had been denied by 31 different publishers. 

We wanted to know how he handles writer’s block. We were surprised when he told us that he usually doesn’t get writer’s block because he writes multiple books at a time. He said his mind is always active with new and creative stories. If he’s not focused, he will go on to the next chapter.

Another question asked was why he felt it was so important for children to read. He responded that he believes reading gives opportunities to children, so they are less likely to drop out of school and make bad decisions.

Lately Patterson has collaborated with many other authors, and we wanted to know what that was like. Patterson told us that it is wonderful to work with another author on a book. He just recently wrote “The President is Missing,” and worked with former President Bill Clinton on it. Patterson said that it was wonderful to work with President Clinton because they really respected each other. He used the president as a viewpoint into what would have happened in the White House if the president did go missing.

We were curious why he decided to start writing children’s books. He confidently answered that he thought a major problem in this country is that the reading levels of children have gone down significantly. He also hoped to inspire his own son to read for fun.

We followed with this: Is it hard to adjust your focus between kids and adult books? His response was he tends to write the same style for both kids and adults. He writes with his own unique style; however, each book is given a different voice and tone. That is what makes each book different from the others.

After this we asked “Do you think the several cat and dog stereotypes in Katt vs. Dogg will offend cats and dogs?” He surprisingly answered he hopes that cats and dogs are offended. He said there are several stereotypes and not all cats and dogs are like that but truthfully most are.

The final question was did you use your past knowledge from your advertising company to help you sell your books? Patterson responded that one thing he did learn from working in advertising was that you are always speaking to an audience. You want to make sure the book looks appealing so that people will pick it up and not just pass it by in the bookstore. However, he did say if the book is terrible you will not be able to fool people for long. An attractive book cover does help though.

 The opportunity to meet Patterson was wonderful. He was compelling and quite funny when we talked with him. He was even nice enough to sign our first edition copies of “Katt vs. Dogg with messages such as "Keep Reading" and "Write a Great Book."

We had been given the chance to be one of the first people to read and review the new book before everyone else. "Katt vs. Dogg" is another hysterical “Jimmy” book about the two worst enemies in nature, Katts and Doggs. It features a Katt family with the aspiring actress Molly and a Dogg family with the young Dogg scout Oscar. Oscar is a good boy who believes, just like his family, that all Katts are terrible, snooty, hairball spewing animals. Molly and her well-bred family believe all Doggs are dirty, stupid fleabags.

It is all about differences and how we can all get along. Another thing to draw from this book is just because we have differences and think differently does not mean we should hate each other. Patterson said he hates seeing Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, or cats and dogs always against each other just because of a few bad people in the different groups. This book shows you that you should not judge a group just because of a few select people. This book not only teaches us important lessons but is also humorous and suspenseful. This book was enjoyable, and we recommend it for cat and dog lovers (or both!) of all ages.

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