In all my years, I’ve managed to avoid reading a James Patterson novel. I’ve watched some of his books adapted for the screen, notably the Alex Cross series. My mother used to be a Patterson fan but I think she’s over it. Patterson is one of the most successful writers of all time, and most of his books are simple mass-market fiction. He’s 75 years old and worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Before today, I never realized that his early professional years were spent in advertising, in the 1970s, when women had next to no power in that business or any business. Crash cut fifty years, and this old white man is lamenting the fact that it’s hard out here for… white guys. It’s hard for plain old heterosexual cisgender white guys to get ahead. Patterson said all of this openly in the middle of an interview with the Times of London. Some highlights:
On the Alex Cross franchise: “I just wanted to create a character who happened to be black. I would not have tried to write a serious saga about a black family. It’s different in a detective story because plot is so important.”
He worries about white men getting opportunities: Today, though, he worries that it is hard for white men to get writing gigs in film, theatre, TV or publishing. The problem is “just another form of racism. What’s that all about? Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes. It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.”
He’s writing a royal book: It will be a book about Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry co-written with the journalist Chris Mooney. The blurb suggests it could be quite syrupy (“Even after she’s gone, her sons follow their mother’s lead — and her heart”). “I would never have done a book about Diana as a princess. This is about her as a mother and the effect of the Crown on her sons. Harry has said at a certain point, ‘I can’t do this thing,’ and William has said, ‘I can do this thing.’ For these two men there’s all sorts of pressure to act in a certain way. Being a second son it is probably a little easier for Harry to say no.”
He enjoys women: “I like women and women characters. I find men to be a little too monochromatic. They talk about money, sports and cars.”
On Jeffrey Epstein: “I know [most of Epstein’s friends] didn’t know. Why would Epstein tell people? Is it possible there were a dozen friends who knew? Yes, it is likely. I’m not saying Prince Andrew per se was one, but he may have been. Is it possible somebody said, ‘We are not going to have this guy [Epstein] around to testify? Yes, but it is just as possible that he killed himself.”
Caustic: Patterson has a ready-made title for a sequel about Ghislaine Maxwell, “Filthy Bitch”. It’s uncharacteristically caustic for him, although he also lays into an unnamed British writer of a similar vintage to himself known to be “horrible” on US book tours. “You can guess who,” he says correctly.
[From The Times]
Unnamed British writer close to his age? Tina Brown? I don’t know, it could be a fiction author. As for his comments about white dudes… James might have been a hungry writer, starving for legitimacy early in his career, but these days, he’s as insulated and tunnel-visioned as every other rich white man. Men like Patterson see everything zero sum game – if women, BIPOC or LGBTQ people have something, that must mean their something was taken away from white men. Imagine saying with a straight face “where did all of the 50-something white male writers go?” THEY ARE LITERALLY EVERYWHERE, YOU DOUCHE.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.