A Maximum Ride Novel
By James Patterson
GLENN: I'm actually -- we have a guest that was scheduled to come out, be on the program today that I want to get right to because his book comes out today. His name is James Patterson. I don't know. You might have heard of Mr. Patterson before. He has sold 150 million books. He's had more number one best sellers in the past five years -- listen to this -- than Grisham, Tom Clancy, J. K. Rowling, and Dan Brown combined. James Patterson, welcome to the program. How are you, sir?
PATTERSON: Hey, I'm good. I've had a good morning already. I've been up since about 5:00. So I'm in a terrific mood.
GLENN: Yeah, you are right. Surprise you are writing. You make Stephen King look like a slug.
PATTERSON: Well, I don't want to get into Stephen. He said some uncharitable things about both of us. So I'll leave Stephen alone for a while.
GLENN: Yeah, it might be, might be better to leave him alone. So James, first of all, I have to tell you your new Maximum Ride book is coming out, Final Warning.
GLENN: And it's out today, right?
GLENN: I gave that copy -- I'm down at Disney and I gave my copy to somebody yesterday after I finished reading it and she looked at me like I had given her a bar of gold. And today that's worth a lot. My daughters have been talking about Maximum Ride for years and when I told them that you were going to be on the program and they're both, you know, one's 20 and one's 16, they were both, oh, my gosh, Dad, Maximum Ride is the best ever, yada, yada, yada. I read it over the weekend and you go down the global warming route.
PATTERSON: Uh-huh. Well, Max does anyway. You know, he's interesting, though. She's a little like you in the sense that she wants to get to the truth and she has a sense of humor about it. She's 14 years old. She may or may not have gotten there but at least she's going for it, you know?
GLENN: No, I like the -- I have to tell you, James, this is the first one that I've written and I have to tell you -- and you know this -- the fans series, I mean, they're uber fans. Do you ever get a little spooked by the fans that are just like, I mean, they love this series?
PATTERSON: No, I think it's great. The reason I got into the writing, I call them books for kids from 10 to 110 like the Harry Potters, as you know, kids aren't reading that much or a lot of kids.
PATTERSON: And I believe the best way or one of the best ways to get kids reading is to give them books they are going to love so when they get done with it, they go give me another book. That's what I try to do with my son. I try to make sure that I hear, try Holes, try Tracy Jackson, try Maximum Ride, whatever until he gets turned on. That's how a lot of us got turned on to the movies. If we had started watching Ingmar Bergman movies when we were little, everybody would go, I hate movies, you know.
GLENN: You know, it's so true because I never read, as a family we never read and --
PATTERSON: I didn't, either.
PATTERSON: Nope. I was not a -- I was a good student but I wasn't a good reader and then I worked my way through college at a mental hospital. I had a lot of time on my hands. I started reading like crazy.
GLENN: What did you do at a mental hospital?
PATTERSON: I can't tell. No, I was working as an aide. This was up in Belmont, Massachusetts.
GLENN: Anything come out of that experience in your book.
PATTERSON: Well, yeah, for me because I grew up in kind of a farm town in upstate New York and when I was up there I met just all sorts of different kinds of people. They had Harvard people there, they had rich people, they had middle class people. It was all over the lot and it really exposed me to -- I had a wider view of the world than I had had before I got in there.
GLENN: Are you glad that -- are you glad you're living in the era that you're living in now as far as a writer? I mean, Stephen King had to write under, you know, Randy -- was it Randy Bachman?
PATTERSON: Richard Bachman.
GLENN: Richard Bachman for a long time because everybody said he can't be good if he can be that prolific.
GLENN: And you are extraordinarily prolific.
PATTERSON: I try not to worry too much about what some people say. Some people, as I say thousands of people don't like what I do. Fortunately millions like it a lot. So, you know, I kind of go with the millions.
GLENN: My daughter was very surprised. When I talked to her, I said this is a global warming, you know, it's got a global warming story line to it. And she said, you're kidding me. She said, because Maximum Ride and the flock are all, at least her take is antiglobal government.
PATTERSON: Totally. Totally. And, you know, Max -- you know, it's her point of view. Can I read for 30 seconds?
PATTERSON: She at some point and I think she's off in some areas that I don't buy into in the book. Like I don't -- I'm not really into ratifying the Kyoto Treaty, which she is. But she says -- and you know --
GLENN: Well, hang on. Wait, wait, wait, I just have to ask you that.
GLENN: I mean, she's your character. I mean, how --
PATTERSON: We write a lot, a lot of characters that aren't necessarily, they don't think the way we think.
GLENN: Go ahead and read this section and then I want to get back into that a little bit.
PATTERSON: But she says, and I think where she comes out and certainly where I come out is, you know, we do need to look at the cleaner energy sources.
PATTERSON: The U.S. needs to take a lead and begin to fulfill its promise again in a whole lot of areas. But she says, you know, look -- she's addressing congress because she's got wings and people listening to her. She says, look at other kinds of power. Windmills, solar power, she doesn't say nuclear but I think nuclear is a big one we should pay attention. She says pay millions of dollars to avoid legal fees to a void getting fines. What if they took some of that money and put it up with better energy sources. Right now America looks like a shortsighted, gas-guzzling blowhard to the rest of the world and Sweden looks all tidy and progressive. Where's our sense of pride? So she's really saying something's goofy here and I'm 14 years old and I've already come to some conclusions, and I don't think she's exactly right but she's getting there and, you know, kids and teachers and whatever need to talk about this stuff. And, you know, they go to the South Pole and, you know, penguins are cool.
PATTERSON: There's a lot of missing ice. We eat too much hamburger, you know, whatever. I don't have the answers and I don't pretend to have the answers but she's trying to get at answers.
GLENN: Now, my daughter was under the impression that -- because when I told her Final Warning was coming out today, she said, no, Dad, the series is over. And I said, no, it's not. And she said, Dad, it's very clear. And she read to me the flap of the last book and it said, this is it, you know, I can't remember. She wrote it down for me and I forgot to bring it to the studio with me today. But she said the flap of the last book said, this is it, fans, it's over, you know, no tomorrow, et cetera, et cetera. Was that, did you plan on that being the last book?
PATTERSON: Yeah, I was. And then we got so much mail and e-mails and whatever. Then there's a sight, maximumride.com and we did a thing. We said if we got a million hits, I would write another book. We got like six million hits. So, you know, I wrote another one. I'm not going to write another one now. I'm hooked now into sort of a new series.
But once again I think the bigger thing here is this notion. I mean, I'm sure you hear it all the time, I can't get my kids reading.
PATTERSON: I'm going to start a sight this year called good parents give great books and whether or not it's going to do, it's going to be helping parents find books their kids are going to love but I think if you are a parent, grandparent, it's your responsibility to find books that kids are going to go, they are going to read it and go, that was terrific, let me have another book.
GLENN: What was the book that got you hooked?
PATTERSON: That got me hooked?
PATTERSON: As I said, you know, this was -- I didn't really get hooked on reading until I was 19 or so. So it was heavier stuff. It was probably James Joyce.
PATTERSON: Stuff like that. So it was a little heavier stuff but, you know, that's not the issue when kids are 10 and 11 and 12 and 13. But I guarantee people if they go out and -- Maximum Ride, Final Warning is a terrific book for kids and for adults, too.
GLENN: I think the first book that I -- well, I know it was, the first book that I got hooked on and it was at 19, I read the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and I never readily read a book before for pleasure and just absolutely loved it, read it twice. Read it twice. I thought that was so great, instead of me being a dummy, instead of me going, I wonder if there's another book out there that's this good and haven't been able to, haven't been able to stop since, just absolutely love it. When you find a great book, it is -- especially now, you know, with the series of books, et cetera, et cetera, it's just, they are the best.
PATTERSON: Well, what turned me on to commercial fiction was somewhere in my 20s I read David Jekyll in The Exorcist and those are the two that really got me going. I said, this stuff, you can't stop turning the pages, I didn't want to eat, I just wanted to finish the book.
GLENN: How did you go from -- because you were the guy, if I'm not mistaken, aren't you the guy who came up with, I don't want to grow up, I --
PATTERSON: I came up with part. I came up with "I'm a Toys R Us Kid." There was a woman, or there is a woman still there and she wrote the song or whatever.
GLENN: You were an advertising nut.
PATTERSON: Yeah, but I've been clean for about 14 years.
GLENN: How did you make the flip?
PATTERSON: It's complicated really, but part of it was I was writing books, I really enjoyed it, I was comfortable financially and I just said, it's time. And the other piece of it was when I was in my 30s, I was with a woman. We were going to be married. She had a brain tumor and two years later she died and that's when I threw myself into advertising because I just didn't want to spend any time with myself. And at a certain point in my 40s I went, hold it, the best thing that ever happened in my life was to be with this woman and I'm spending no time really seriously looking for somebody. So I really, you know, honestly got out of advertising because I said it's time for me to change my priorities and then eventually I met Sue and we got married and then we have the lovely Jack.
GLENN: James Patterson, it is great to talk to you, sir. Maximum Ride, the Final Warning. It is out today in bookstores everywhere. If your kid is like my kid, grab it off of the bookstores. Your little -- because they put these books in the back, don't they? Instead of up near the front?
PATTERSON: They tend to put them in the children's section. This won't. This is going to be up in the front of most stores.
GLENN: How much of a fight was that? Why would they put Harry --
PATTERSON: I don't know if it's a fight. It's a passion, as I said. I really do think it's mothers and grandmothers for the most part who are driving reading in this country and should be and, you know, I want them to see -- and see, look. If you get it, just mathematically if 2% of the people who walk into the store are going to the children's section and 100% walk to it, you want to have your book -- I mean, obviously your book is in the front of the store, as it should be, and --
GLENN: Thank you.
PATTERSON: Not just my book but we want a lot of books by, you know, people who are writing for younger audiences up front.
GLENN: James Patterson, we'll talk to you again, my friend, thank you very much.
PATTERSON: Thank you.