Thoughts on Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s New Novel

I see a lot of people crapping all over the new novel from Bill Clinton and James Patterson. In general, I find it pretty awful when anyone looks down on what anyone else reads, but the good these two men in particular have done for our field can’t be overstated (and that doesn’t even take into account the Edgar Award-winning pedigree of the guy who actually wrote the book, David Ellis).

Bill Clinton is directly responsible for several authors in the 90s hitting it big when he was spotted carrying their books, particularly Dennis Lehane. He raised the profile of crime fiction so much in the 90s that MWA gave him the Raven Award for his contribution to our genre.

James Patterson won an Edgar Award. He also brings in new readers by the truck load. If only a tiny fraction of his readers go on to discover another lesser known writer, then that’s amazing. And let’s talk about his publisher. In addition to the many fine authors published by Little Brown like Megan Abbott, Michael Koryta, and Michael Connelly off the top of my head, Hachette publishes Mullholland Books, my favorite publishing imprint ever.

One of the reasons they’re able to do something like Mulholland and why great writers like Megan and the Michaels can take creative chances, is because of the nearly half a billion dollars Patterson’s books bring Hachette. That doesn’t even take into account the millions he’s donated to schools for literacy efforts and to indie bookstores for outreach, all in an effort to nurture the next generation of readers that will allow us all to keep doing this thing we love.

So, sure, the book may not be your cup of tea (though I think every single writer could learn something from reading Patterson) but that doesn’t mean you have to crap on the book and assume it represents the end off all humanity. We’ve got enough pressure on us from other corners of the entertainment industry, we don’t need to be turning on each other.