Meet This Week's Author


Meet This Week's Author 

Never Read Em?
Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett was born in April 1948, in Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, England.   He attended High Wycombe Technical High School where he was a key member of the debating society and wrote stories for the school magazine.   Pratchett was not the best of students and credited his education more to the local library.  His early interests included astronomy and he wanted to be an astronomer, but lacked the mathematical disposition to pursue it.  He also had an interest in reading science fiction and attended science fiction conventions, but stopped when he got his first job a few years later. 


His initial career choice was journalism and he left school at 17 in 1965 to start working for the Bucks Free Press.   In 1968 Terry married and the couple moved to Rowberrow, Somerset, in 1970.  The couple had a daughter in 1976, Rhianna, who is also a writer.  In 2007, Pratchett was misdiagnosed as having had a minor stroke a few years earlier, which doctors thought had damaged the right side of his brain and affecting his motor skills, but not his ability to write.  In December 2007, Terry announced he had been newly diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, which had been responsible for the "stroke". He had a rare form of the disease called posterior cortical atrophy in which areas at the back of the brain begin to shrink and shrivel.  After his diagnosis Terry became active in finding a cure for the disease by donating money and becoming involved in a documentary about the disease.   In 2009, Terry was knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours for services to literature.  Terry died at his home on March 12, 2015 from his Alzheimer's despite his previous discussion of suicide.


Terry was a huge computer buff and was one of the first authors to embrace the technology and use it write books and keep in contact with his readers via the Internet.  He also loved to play video games and helped convert many of his own stories into various computer games.  His love of astronomy continued on into adulthood and he also loved natural history and he owned a greenhouse full of carnivorous plants.


Pratchett published his first short story entitled "Business Rivals" in the High Wycombe Technical School magazine in 1962. "The Hades Business" which was published in the school magazine when he was 13 was published commercially when he was 15.  Terry's first novel “The Carpet People” was published in 1971.  He followed it with the science fiction novels “The Dark Side of the Sun” and “Strata.”  The first Discworld series novel and what he is most recognized for was, “The Colour of Magic.”  It was published in1983.  Pratchett gave up working as a journalist to make his living through writing novels in 1987, after finishing the fourth Discworld novel “Mort.”


Although early on Terry wrote for the sci-fi and horror genres, later on, Pratchett focused almost entirely on fantasy for both adults and children.  Pratchett began writing the Discworld series in 1983 to have fun with some modern day clichés.  The stories are humorous and often include a satirical sequence of stories set in the colorful fantasy Discworld universe. The series contains various story arcs and a number of free-standing stories. but all take place in the mysterious Discworld.


Pratchett is known for a distinctive writing style.  For example he used footnotes, which usually involved a comic departure from the narrative and sometimes had footnotes of their own.  And he had a tendency to avoid using chapters.  Characters, place names, and titles in his books often contain puns and culture references.


The last two of Terry's novels will be published in 2015. A young adult novel called “The Shepherd’s Crown,” which will take place in Discworld and be the 41st and final book in the series.  And the other book “The Long Utopia”, the fourth in his science fiction series The Long Earth, which is set in a universe with an infinite number of parallel Earths which characters, can travel between.

Authors who write fantasy and have the same vivid imagination as Terry include Robert Rankin, David Langford, Mervyn Peake, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, and Diana Wynne Jones.

So if you are looking for a tongue-in-cheek and entertaining story filled with satire and cultural references in a world not like our own give the late great Terry Pratchett a try and be taken to worlds where the fun and action never stops and you can see our own world in a very different and humorous light.



Patricia Cornwell


Patricia Cornwell was born in Miami, Florida in June of 1956.  She is related to author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe.   Her father Sam Daniels was one of the leading appellate lawyers in the US and served as a law clerk to the Supreme Court.  Pat grew up in a troubled family as she suffered emotional abuse from her father, who eventually walked out on the family on Christmas Day 1961.   When the family moved  to Montreat, North Carolina that same year her mother was hospitalized for depression and Pat and her brothers were placed in the foster care system.  Pat went on to attend  Davidson College in North Carolina where she graduated with a B.A. in English in 1979.

In 1980, she married one of her English professors, Charles L. Cornwell, who was 17 years older than she was.  In 1989, the couple separated and eventually divorced.  In 1991 Pat began a two year affair with a married female FBI agent Margo Bennett after meeting her at the FBI Academy in Quantico where Pat was conducting research for her writing.  In 1996, the affair was made public after Margo's estranged husband, also an FBI agent, was arrested for and eventually convicted of attempted murder of his wife. In 2005, Pat  married Staci Ann Gruber, an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard University and the couple currently live in Massachusetts.

Not only has Pat lived a troubled personal life she has had some legal trouble as well.  In1993, Pat crashed her Mercedes-Benz and was convicted of drunk driving and sentenced to twenty-eight days in a treatment center.   In 2000, author Leslie Sachs claimed there were similarities between his novel “The Virginia Ghost Murders” and Pat's “The Last Precinct” and accused Pat of plagiarism.  Eventually Pat was cleared of all charges and in 2007 Pat was awarded $38,000 to cover legal fees for defending herself against Sachs's charges.  Pat also had trouble with a management firm she hired in 2004 to oversee her financial matters and her company, Conrwell Enterintertainment Inc.  The firm had been stealing tens of millions of dollars from her over a several year period and in 2013 Pat was awarded $51 million dollars after suing the management company for $100 million. 

Besides being a best selling author and expert in forensics Pat is involved in numerous other activities.  She co-founded the National Forensic Academy and created a Chair in Organic Science at Harvard. She appears as a forensic consultant on CNN and serves as a member of Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital’s National Council.  She’s helped fund an ICU at Cornell’s Animal Hospital, the scientific study of a Confederate submarine, the archaeological excavation of Jamestown, law enforcement charities, and various scholarships and literacy programs.

Pat's writing career began in1979 when she started working as a reporter for “The Charlotte Observer.”  She would write about anything and everything and soon was covering the crime beat. In 1984, she took a job at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia and worked there for six years as a technical writer and a computer analyst. In 1990, her first novel “Postmortem” was published and it was the first in her her very successful Scarpetta series.  The Scarpetta series follows medical examiner Kay Scarpetta along with her tech-savvy niece Lucy and fellow investigator Pete Marino.  The Scarpetta novels include a great deal of detail on forensic science with some action scenes as Kay and her colleagues solve various murders mostly in Richmond, VA. There are currently twenty-two novels in the series with the next one “Depraved Heart” due out in November of 2015.  This story will follow Kay as she tries to unravel a series of mysterious videos of her niece Lucy along with solving the death of a Hollywood mogul's daughter.

Pat's literary career also includes a book about Jack the Ripper’s identity, two cookbooks (Food to Die For and Scarpetta’s Winter Table), a children’s book (Life’s Little Fable), and a biography of Ruth Graham. She’s also writes two other series one based on an upstart Boston detective and another that follows an enterprising Charlotte, North Carolina reporter.

Pat’s books have sold some 100 million copies with twenty-six appearing on New York Times Best Selling list.  Her books are well known for unsuspecting twists, tension filled drama, and the latest in forensic science.  Her novels generally end with suspense filled action scenes as Scarpetta and her colleagues solve the murder and confront the killer. Authors similar to Pat include Faye Kellerman, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, Kathy Reichs, John Sanford, and Tami Hoag.

So if you are looking for mystery and intrigue along with some action and loads of forensic detail and science check out Patricia Cornwell and enter a world of high tech forensic detective work that will leave you amazed, a little bit smarter, and definitely entertained.



Ridley Pearson


Ridley Pearson was born in March, 1953 in Glen Clove, NY.   Pearson was raised by his parents in Riverside, Connecticut along with his siblings, Bradbury and Wendy. He went to public school and then went to attend college at the University of Kansas and Brown University. He currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife, Marcelle, and their two daughters Paige and Storey.[1]

Ridley started his professional writing career as a singer/songwriter in a rock band and spent a decade on the road playing gigs in clubs and at colleges. He is a founding member of The Rockbottom Remainders, an all-author '60s rock and roll band that featured Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow, Greg Isles, Roy Blount, Jr. and on occasion Stephen King.  The band broke up in June 2012.


Ridley and Dave Barry have also collaborated on a series of novels that explain the beginnings of Peter Pan, the first “Peter and the Starcatchers” spent 47 weeks on the New York Times Children's Bestseller List.  It was later adapted into a play and went on to win five Tony Awards.  The two have written four other Peter Pan related stories.  Ridley also writes a children series set inside Disney theme parks called “The Kingdom Keepers.”  The stories are about five teenagers inside the Disney World who battle various Disney villains to keep the parks safe.  There are eight books in the series with the latest released, “The Syndrome,” in March 2015.  The story features Fairlies Amanda, Jess and Mattie as they attempt to find fellow Keeper Finn who has gone missing.

Ridley has also written numerous adult novel series, including the Walt Flemming series and Bolt Matthews series.  His first novel was published in 1985 called “Never Look Back.”  He has written over twenty adult novels and some of his writings have actually helped and stirred up controversy in real life.  His 1988 novel, “Undercurrents,” helped a Washington state prosecuting attorney solve a real-life homicide by referring to research methods used in the book. The attorney contacted the oceanographer mentioned in the book's acknowledgment page and the oceanographer identified a tidal flow and a "window of time" essential to the case.  The oceanographer went on to serve as an expert witness in the case and help convict the victim's husband of murder.  The 1995 novel, “Chain of Evidence,” which brought up the possibility of a crime gene, was the focus of a genetics conference later that same year and caused a controversy that made national news.  His latest adult novel, “The Red Room” was published in 2014 and is part of the John Knox/Grace Chu series.


 Ridley Pearson's novels span across man different genre from serial killers to Walt Disneyland. With an emphasis on engaging the reader and delivering white knuckle suspense both his crime stories and children novels have earned him a reputation for detailed research and nail biting stories. His reputation for stories that grip the imagination, feature high-tech crime and forensic detail have led to numerous best sellers and millions of fans both young and old.  So if you have a desire to be sucked into a world of espionage and mystery or if you or your children want to experience a world filled with beloved Disney characters as they battle evil try Ridley Pearson and become just one of many that find his stories to be bone chillingly good. 


James Patterson
Meet this week's author James Patterson.  Now he's a man most people have at least heard of if not by reading one of his books then by watching a film or television movie based on one of his books.  He's the world's best-selling author since 2001 and to say Mr. Patterson is a prolific writer would be an understatement.  He publishes at least three books a year and has published up to thirteen in one year.  His writing talent spreads across several different genres including romance, young adult, and children, but the majority of his books are mystery/thriller novels.  He has written almost one hundred novels since 1976 and has had nineteen consecutive #1 New York Times Best Selling Novels.  He holds the NY Times record and Guinness World record for the most best-selling hardcover fiction titles by a single author with seventy-six.  His novels account for one out of every seventeen hard cover books sold in the U.S.  
James Patterson was born in Newburgh, NY in 1947.  He currently lives in Florida with his family.  He graduated from Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in English from Vanderbilt University.  After he graduated he found employment in advertising and retired in 1996 to focus on writing.  His first novel was published in 1976 called “The Thomas Berryman Number.”  The story is about a reporter named Ochs James and his pursuit of the assassin named Thomas Berryman.  Since then he has written almost one hundred novels with seventy-six best sellers.  He is the author of numerous book series including the very popular “Alex Cross” series featuring Alex Cross as a former DC police and FBI employer who now works as a private psychologist and government consultant.  Other popular series include the “Woman's Murder Club” featuring a group of women solving crimes in San Francisco and the “Michael Bennet” series about a NYPD detective.  Along with these adult series Mr. Patterson also writes several young adult and children series including the best-selling “Maximum Ride” series about six teenagers who are human bird hybrids.  The series focuses on these extraordinary teenagers’ adventures of trying to stay alive and save the world.  His foray into children stories has been just as successful with many of his titles appearing on the NY Times best-selling children book list including the books “I Funny” and “My Brother is a Big Fat Liar.”  
His latest novel “Invisible” published in July tells the story of a FBI researcher named Emily Dockery and her quest to solve her sister's murder.  But, to do that she has to convince the FBI there is a sadistic serial killer on the loose hiding his horrific crimes with fire as he kills dozens of victims across the country.  The book has received good reviews and has been described as a “breakneck-paced thriller that will keep you holding your breath until the final, astonishing pages.”  He also has five more books scheduled to be released this year including a new Alex Cross book and two children books.
If you have not read any of Patterson's books perhaps you have watched them as a few of Patterson's books have been made into feature films including the very popular book series “Alex Cross.”  Morgan Freeman played the part of Alex Cross in “Kiss the Girls” in 1997 and “Along Came a Spider” in 2001.  Tyler Perry took over the role in 2012 for the feature film called “Alex Cross.”  Several of his books have also been made into successful TV movies with the latest being “Sunday's at Tiffany's” in 2010 starring Alyssa Milano and Stockard Channing.
Along with his writing career James Patterson is also very active in organizations attempting to make books more available to children and adults.  He has donated over 200,000 books to soldiers at home and overseas and thousands of books to schools in Florida, New York, and California.  He is also very passionate about promoting books to children and getting them interested in reading.  His award winning website is designed to help parents, teachers, and libraries by providing book reviews and recommendations on books that will get children excited about reading.  He has also helped college students by setting up teacher education scholarships and book buying programs that help students pay for college text books.
James Patterson's books tend to be a combination of mystery-thriller-crime stories with a little romance thrown in there.  His stories are characterized as fast paced with short chapters and engrossing plots.  He has a conversational writing style that grabs the reader's attention early on and drawing them in and then leaving them with the urge of having to know what is going to happen next.  He's said when he writes he tries to leave out the parts people skip when they are reading a book and he tries to write stories the way someone would tell a story.  He prefers the short chapter style because it keeps the reader's attention and moves the story along at a fast pace.  In his adult novels the violence can be graphic at times and hard to read for some.  However, he does tend to give the reader insight into both the heroes and the villains of the stories giving the reader a better understanding of the character's motives and an easier time connecting with the characters.  Some say his children books can be a little too high brow for their intended audience, but the stories are attention grabbers with very likable characters and the children can easily connect with the stories and the characters.  
Like other leading figures in their respected fields James Patterson has his critics and supporters.  Critics claim that recently he is more interested in the number of books he puts out in a year than the quality.  They say his stories are formulaic as he writes more and more with co-authors.  Supporters say by writing with co-authors he has been able to expand to other genre and his books are still filled with just as many twists and turns as they had in the past.  They also are ecstatic he publishes so many titles a year allowing them to read one of his new books almost monthly instead of having to wait months or years to read a new book by him, which is typical of most authors.  
Locally James Patterson is very popular.  The Mason County Library will typically have on hand six copies of his latest novel available for check out and still there will be a waiting list to read it of up to forty people.  The vast majority of opinions expressed in the reading review surveys found in his books give the books high marks.  Most say the books are great and they love the story.  Some direct quotes include, “Another spectacular, can't put down book” and “Good, easy to read and enjoy.”  However, there are a few that do say the books are “brutal for the sake of being brutal” and “a step down from the others.”  So as you see there are both critics and supporters locally as well.  But, the supporters far outnumber the critics and the number of new people starting to read him appears to be far greater than the number the people that have stopped reading him.
As you know no two authors are the same.  Each having their own unique style of storytelling.  However, there are several authors that write very similar to James Patterson.  They include Stephan J. Cannell, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, and John Sanford.  If you happen to like one of these authors chances are you will enjoy reading James Patterson and vice versa.
As you can see James Patterson is a man with a writing talent that spreads across many genres.  People of all ages and backgrounds read and enjoy his stories making him one of the best-selling authors of all time.  So if you like fast-paced heart pounding thrillers or tear jerker romances or want to spend some quality time with your kids reading a laugh out loud children book give James Patterson a try and join the millions of people who have met and now can't wait to read his next heart pounding adventure.
Next week meet Janet Evanovich.  A best-selling author of more than 50 books and the popular Plum detective series.   Her books have been described from hilarious and to nail biting.  If you are interested in learning more about her please come back next week for another edition of “Never Read Em.”




More in this category: Ludington's Friday Bookclub »