Michael Cavacini

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Archive for the tag “James Patterson”

Interview: James Patterson MasterClass Winner Kecia Bal

Kecia Bal won the first James Patterson MasterClass Co-Author Competition. Her proposed topic and outline for a book she hoped to write with the world’s best-selling author was chosen by the man himself. In June 2016 she received a fateful call from James Patterson telling her that out of the thousands of submissions, hers was the best and she’d have the opportunity to bring that idea to life working side-by-side with the foremost writer in the thriller genre. Together they wrote and published The Dolls, an imaginative and compelling entry in James Patterson’s BookShots series of bite-sized thrillers that clock in around 150 pages. Below is my interview with Bal, who was kind enough to share her thoughts on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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What I Read In 2016

fullsizerender-56I use Goodreads’ “Reading Challenge” feature to keep track of what I read, and in 2016 I read 50 books. I set out to read 20, so I exceeded my goal by 250%! Below is a sampling of what I read in 2016.

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Working With James Patterson: BookShots Authors Tell All

IMG_7188In June James Patterson launched his BookShots imprint, and since then more than one million copies of these bite-sized thrillers have been sold. I recently spoke with two of the authors who’ve written books for this imprint: Brendan DuBois and Erin Knightley.

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Book Review: Bullseye by James Patterson 

Bullseye is James Patterson’s newest thriller and the latest entry in the Michael Bennett series. Unfortunately, it’s not very good. It takes several chapters for the protagonist to show up, which is never a good sign as that only delays my being introduced to the character to which I’m supposed to relate. And the premise isn’t all that compelling. It failed to pull me in and keep my attention like Patterson’s far superior thriller, The Games, which was also recently released. Every once in a while a good author releases a boring book. For James Patterson, Bullseye is it.

Book Review: The Games by James Patterson

btn3-square-1536I just finished The Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan and it was excellent. This novel was perfectly timed as it deals with two major sporting events, one of which is right around the corner: the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. There are two parallel storylines at play in this novel, neither of which I’ll divulge in my review because I don’t want to spoil either of them. However, I can tell you that the storylines are compelling and that both are brought to satisfactory conclusions. As with all of James Patterson’s thrillers, the pacing in this book is tremendous. The pages fly by and no words are wasted. Every page and chapter move the story and the characters forward, toward the novel’s thrilling climax. The Games is one of my favorite James Patterson books, and I highly recommend it.

Book Synopsis

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–home to beautiful white-sand beaches, gorgeous women, stunning natural beauty, and the world’s largest Carnival celebration–knows how to throw a party. So it’s a natural choice to host the biggest spectacles in sports–the World Cup and the Olympics. To ensure that the games go off without a hitch, the organizers turn to Jack Morgan, the unflappable head of the renowned international security and consulting firm Private. But when events are this exclusive, someone’s bound to get left off the guest list.

Two years after the action nearly spilled from the field to the stands during soccer’s championship match, Jack is back in Rio for the Olympics. But before the cauldron is even lit, the only thing more intense than the competition is the security risks. When prominent clients he’s supposed to be protecting disappear, and bodies mysteriously start to litter the streets, Jack is drawn deep into the heart of a ruthless underworld populated by disaffected residents trying to crash the world’s biggest party. As the opening ceremonies near, with the world watching in horror, Jack must sprint to the finish line to defuse a threat that could decimate Rio and turn the games from a joyous celebration into a deadly spectacle. 

Cross My Heart and Hope To Die by James Patterson

patterson-ac2122uk-e1417455534602Cross My Heart and Hope To Die by James Patterson are two parts of one story. The first part takes place in Cross My Heart and it concludes in Hope To Die. To my knowledge, this was the first time James Patterson did this so, naturally, many fans were upset with the cliffhanger ending of the first book. I wasn’t because I knew this going in. If anything, it made me look forward to reading Hope To Die even more, so I could see how things wrapped up.

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James Patterson Starts A Reading Revolution

IMG_7188Today, James Patterson started a reading revolution. Its name is BookShots, a new imprint under Little, Brown and Company. What makes these books so special? Each title will be under 150 pages, competitively priced at less than $5, and will be available in a new compact paperback format (and as ebooks and audiobooks). Patterson will be writing, collaborating on, or personally curating every title. Oh, and there’s already 117 of them ready to go.

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James Patterson Honored At National Book Awards

IMG_7083Last night I attended the National Book Awards in New York City, an annual event hosted by the National Book Foundation. My reason for going was to see James Patterson receive the 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Past recipients of this award include Maya Angelou and Dave Eggers.  Read more…

Book Review: Everything To Lose by Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross - Everything to Lose

Late last night I finished Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross. Prior to this, I had read most of the novels Gross co-wrote with James Patterson, my two favorite being Lifeguard and Judge & Jury, as well as three books he wrote on his own. Having completed Everything to Lose, I can say with confidence that it ranks right up there with his work with James Patterson and that it’s superior to his 2013 thriller, No Way Back, which I also enjoyed. The premise of the novel, a woman finding a bag full of money on the side of the road and having to deal with the internal ethical turmoil that ensues, resonated with me. As I read it, I thought to myself, what would I do if I were in her shoes? This is a clear sign of effective writing and Gross had me hooked from the start. While there weren’t any mind-blowing surprises along the way, I found the story compelling from start to finish.

However, like any book, it’s not perfect. I don’t care for stories where the point of view changes so much that it makes me stop reading so I can reorient myself, and the same goes for jumping back and forth through time; I think it’s OK to start off in the past and then let the rest of the story happen in present day. But to jump back and then jump forward is distracting to me. These minor quibbles aside, Everything to Lose is a riveting tale that kept me up way past my bed time, and I highly recommend you pick it up.

Synopsis 

A determined, (down on her luck,) mother caring for her handicapped son becomes entangled in a murderous conspiracy to keep a twenty year old secret buried in this blistering thriller, set during the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, from Andrew Gross, the New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds and No Way Back.

While driving along a suburban back road, Hilary Blum, who’s just lost her job and whose deadbeat husband has left her alone to care for her son with Asperger’s, witnesses a freakish accident. A car ahead of her careens down a hill and slams into a tree. Stopping to help, she discovers the driver dead—and a satchel stuffed with a half a million dollars.

That money could prevent her family’s ruin and keep her special needs son in school. In an instant, this honest, achieving woman who has always done the responsible thing makes a decision that puts her in the center of maelstrom of dark consequences and life-threatening recriminations—a terrifying scheme involving a twenty-year-old murder, an old woman who’s life has been washed out to sea, and a powerful figure bent to keep the secret that can destroy him hidden.

With everything to lose, everything she loves, Hilary connects to a determined cop from Staten Island, reeling from the disaster of Sandy, to bring down an enemy who will stop at nothing to keep what that money was meant to silence, still buried.

Author Interview: Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods Photo Credit Harry BensonStuart Woods is one of the first thriller writers whose work I fell in love with. His characters have fantastic names like Felicity Devonshire, Vance Calder and, my all-time favorite, Stone Barrington. I’m constantly impressed by the fluidity of his prose, as well as his wonderfully descriptive romantic scenes. There have been countless occasions when I stopped reading one of his books to recite a passage to a friend because I was so impressed by the use of adjectives, verbs and metaphors. Simply stated, he’s a terrific writer everyone should read. Speaking of which, Stuart Woods has a new Stone Barrington novel available: Standup Guy. Make sure to pick up a copy after reading my interview with the author below.

After graduating college, you started out working at several advertising agencies. What made you realize advertising wasn’t for you, and how did your time in the industry influence your future writing?

I found the advertising business to be a wonderful preparation for writing professionally. I always advise young people who want to write for a living to find a job in advertising, journalism, PR – any profession that requires you to sit down and write a thousand words a day, whether you feel like it or not. Advertising did that for me, and in addition, I had to satisfy some very demanding bosses – some of the best writers in the business – who wanted persuasive writing and every word to count. I left because I felt I had gone as far as I was going to go in that business, and because I had wanted to write fiction since I was a child, and leaving advertising forced me to finally write the novel I had been thinking about since I was ten.

Chiefs - Stuart Woods

Your first novel, Chiefs, earned you an Edgar Award. How did it feel to be honored by your peers for your first novel?

I didn’t know the Mystery Writers of America were my peers, since I had never heard of the award, though I was very happy to receive it. I thought I had written a novel about how small towns worked, but I was delighted that they found it to be mysterious.

Chiefs was turned into a TV miniseries with a stellar cast of actors, including Charlton Heston, Danny Glover, Billy Dee Williams, and John Goodman. Did you have an active role in the creation of the miniseries, and did it live up to your expectations?

I didn’t write the screenplay, but the producers were kind enough (and smart enough) to send me every draft of the screenplay and solicit my comments and suggestions. I made a lot of those, and they even accepted some of them, particularly in casting. Heston’s character, Hugh Holmes was based on James S. Peters, a father of my home town, and I interviewed him at length about the town’s history. I loaned the tapes of that interview to Heston, and he used them to create his character and his accent. I was delighted with the miniseries; I thought it true to both the plot of the novel and its intent. I played a small part in the mini-series, and they made me travel to New York to read for it. I had a two-minute scene with Billy Dee Williams, a fine actor who, for some reason, could not remember his lines. We rehearsed at length, shot it, then rehearsed some more and shot it a couple of more times. He finally got his lines right, whereas I was perfect throughout. I thought, “This acting thing isn’t so tough; after all I knew my lines.” Then I saw the series at a screening: Billy Dee was wonderful, and I came off as a blithering idiot. I thought, “Maybe there’s something to this acting thing, after all.”

Under The Lake - Stuart WoodsI thought your standalone thriller, Under the Lake, was one of your best. It’s very different from your other work but just as captivating. It even attracted the attention of Stephen King, who lauded the book by saying, “it scared the living hell” out of him. More than 25 years later, what’s your opinion on the novel?

I reread it when someone was writing a screenplay (ultimately unproduced) from it, and I liked it a lot. I tried to get Simon & Schuster to use King’s comment, which was one line in a fulsome letter he wrote about the book, and they wouldn’t. They wanted to say, “It scared the living heck out of me.” (!)

For the past several years you’ve been providing fans with a steady flow of Stone Barrington novels. Do you plan on revisiting any of your other series or writing any new standalone thrillers?

My publisher persuaded me to write only Stone novels in a new contract (he offered me money, and I can be bought). I think he meant that he wanted the words, “A Stone Barrington Novel” on every cover. I tricked him by including all the other series characters in the various novels. Anyway, my readers who write to me like Stone best.

Having written 28 Stone Barrington novels, how do you keep your books fresh?

I have a fevered imagination and a rich fantasy life, which helps with the sex scenes.

Blue Water, Green Skipper - Stuart Woods

Your memoir about sailing, Blue Water, Green Skipper, was re-released in 2012. How did the fans of your thrillers respond to Blue Water, Green Skipper when it was, once again, made available to the public?

I’ve had a great deal of mail about the book from readers – most of them, yachtsmen, and they were all warm in their praise. Reading it allowed me to revisit a happy time in my life. One day, I’ll write a full-blown autobiography, and I’ve reserved the right to plug the old book into the new one. I don’t think I can write about that time of my life any better.

Many popular writers, including James Patterson, have increased their productivity by collaborating with other authors on novels. Some readers don’t care for this practice because they feel having a co-author dilutes the end product, while others are perfectly fine with it. What’s your opinion on the matter, and would you ever collaborate with another author on a book?

I’ve never done that, though my publisher says he would like it. I’ve instructed my widow-to-be to call my agent as soon as I’m dead and hire a few writers, and I’ve explained to her that Jim Patterson makes more money than God.

Standup Guy jacket

Since you’re working on and releasing multiple books a year, how do you go about keeping track of all the characters and details from novel to novel?

My characters exist for me in an alternate universe; I know exactly what’s happened to them, though they know nothing about me. Apparently, they don’t read. I seem to have a gift for keeping their stories in memory.

What are you working on now and what’s next for Stone Barrington?
There are two Stone novels completed and awaiting publication, and I’ll finish another this week. Standup Guy is coming out on January 7th. 

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