Don’t tell anyone,” confides bestselling author Brad Meltzer about today’s panel “Inside the Mystery Writer’s Studio” (Room 1A23, 2:30–3:30 p.m.), in which he is participating with fellow superstars James Patterson and Nelson DeMille. “But I will be arm-wrestling Patterson, who I plan to beat, and then have to take on DeMille. So get ready.”
Refereeing the book brawl will be fellow novelist Michael Koryta who hopes to give fans the chance to learn something new that they can’t find on the Internet. Here’s a preview of a few secrets that will be revealed.
A little known fact about Koryta is that his settings choose him, not the other way around. He recalls one example when he was backpacking with friends in Montana and Wyoming: “We were at the top of this incredible vista in the Beartooth Mountains. It was just at that moment that I realized how alone we were and how desolate the area was—how beautiful it was, too. I remember very distinctly thinking, ‘I could put some characters in a lot of trouble up here,’ and that started the wheels turning. Three years later I had a book out of it, Those Who Wish Me Dead (Little, Brown, 2014).”
James Patterson, one of the more prolific writers on the panel—and in the world—believes readers will be surprised to learn that he does not create at the computer. “I write with a pencil,” he tells Show Daily@BookCon.“I have an assistant, and once I have one draft, everything comes back to me triple-spaced and I write between the lines and cross out what I don’t want.” He’s known for working on several books simultaneously/ “There’s usually 10 or 12 happening at one time, and I probably will work on three or four at the same time.” Just published was the latest in the Women’s Murder Club series, 14th Deadly Sin, written with Maxine Paetro and the next one up, Truth or Die, co-authored with Howard Roughan will be out in three weeks. When asked how he manages to handle multiple projects, he says, “When I was running an ad agency years ago, there were always a hundred things going on at the same time, so this is actually much easier than that. I know the stories, and if they are series, I know the voices. And it just keeps evolving. It’s not difficult; it’s not taxing. I don’t consider that I work for a living, I play for a living.”
Another technophobe is writing legend Nelson DeMille, whose next title in the John Corey series, Radiant Angel was just published this week. He reveals, “One of the things that still seems to surprise readers is that I don’t use technology.” In fact, DeMille doesn’t type either, but also writes his books longhand. “There’s nothing between me and the pen or the pencil. This is the way people wrote for 4,000 years and it worked for them, it worked for Cervantes, everybody until about Mark Twain. And my theory is that as soon as they switched to typewriters, the writing got worse.”
Brad Meltzer, whose newest book, The President’s Shadow is just about to be released, chimes in. “It would be so cool if this was the ‘pencil panel.’ I fill notebooks with this kind of tiny ‘uni-bomber’ handwriting—I need to have everything in one place, but I do type everything on the computer. The characters really start out in the notebook, because I need to write down backstory and history and things like that.” “One thing that will be no surprise to our audience today,” Meltzer adds, “is the most important thing that we’re going to say: ‘Thank you.’ It’s not about saying, ‘Me, me, me!’ It’s about saying thank you to the fans who are out there and who so graciously support what we do.”
This article appeared in the May 31, 2015 edition of PW BookCon Daily.