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article imageJames Patterson delivers Savannah Book Festival's keynote address Special

By Kay Mathews     Feb 16, 2013 in Entertainment
Savannah - Bestselling author James Patterson's remarks focused on storytelling and what he's passionate about, including the importance of getting kids to read.
The 2013 Savannah Book Festival is underway in Savannah, Ga. Author, humorist, and Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry kicked-off the four-day event on Thursday, Valentine's Day. On Friday afternoon, a "Lifestyle Presentation" was given by Bobby Deen (yes, one of Paula Deen's sons) and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, a designer and editor for Southern Living magazine.
Later that evening, the keynote address was delivered by James Patterson, who is well-known for his books featuring Alex Cross and his Women's Murder Club detective series, at the Trustees Theater in historic downtown Savannah. It was a sold-out event held in a venue with a seating capacity of more than 1,100.
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival.  Trustees Theater.  Savannah  Ga.  2/15/13
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival. Trustees Theater. Savannah, Ga. 2/15/13
To merely say that Patterson is a "bestselling" author really doesn't do him justice. He is the "who" in the "who's who" among contemporary writers. A brief excerpt from his biography illustrates the point, stating, "To date, James Patterson has had nineteen consecutive #1 New York Times bestselling novels, and holds the New York Times record for most Hardcover Fiction bestselling titles by a single author (76 total), which is also a Guinness World Record."
Yet, that doesn't impress him much. Patterson began his remarks by stating, "I may be the bestselling author in the world, but that doesn't impress me. What does impress me is being Sue's husband and Jack's dad." Patterson went on to say that "satisfaction in life revolves around who we are in our core."
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/15/13
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/15/13
Patterson shared another thing that impressed him. "I shot two holes-in-one in three days," he said with a smile on his face.
When it comes to writing, "I love what I do," said Patterson. "I'm passionate about it."
The prolific author then turned his attention to matters at hand. "Telling stories is how I make my living and it's why I'm here today," said Patterson. He noted the "power of changing a story" and used Ford Motor Co. as an example. He reminded the audience that, at one time, Ford stood for "Found on road dead" even though they were making good cars. Ford turned to a public relations firm that turned the story around and had everyone talking about how Ford was making better cars than its competitors.
Patterson returned to important themes in life and said that it boils down to "work, family, health, friends and spirit." He encouraged the audience to think of work as being made of rubber. If you drop it, it bounces back. On the other hand, family, health, friends and spirit are made out of glass. If they are dropped, Patterson said, they can be "irrevocably scuffed, marked, or damaged." Patterson urged everyone to "strive for more balance in our lives."
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/15/13
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/15/13
Patterson's whit and humor were displayed in a story that he told about going on a press junket years ago. He said he went to a book signing where the organizers had stacked plenty of books for fans to buy and him to sign. Patterson said they were books by "Richard North Patterson, so I signed 'em!"
Another story Patterson shared was one about his grandfather, who he called a "terrific guy with a great spirit." He said he would go with his grandfather on his truck route and his grandfather would always sing, even though he didn't have a great singing voice. Patterson's grandfather said to him, "Jim, I don't care what you do when you grow up, just remember as you go over the mountains of work in the morning, you've got to be singing."
Finally, Patterson spoke of another thing he is passionate about. "We CAN get our kids reading," he said. People who don't read, according to Patterson, are "not as good citizens, husbands, wives, and not as fun to talk to" as those who do read.
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/15/13
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/15/13
After his address, Patterson took questions from the audience and one person asked how do we get kids to read? Patterson's response was "No screens until you do the reading" and "get kids good books." He also spoke of how much he enjoyed writing children's books, and that there are interesting, engaging books for kids.
Other questions led to Patterson revealing that he doesn't have support staff to help with research, he writes an 80-90 page outline and evaluates it before proceeding with a manuscript, and in terms of his influence on casting movies based on his books, Patterson said, "The bigger the movie, the less influence I have."
The evening concluded with a book signing. A long line formed and the excitement in the air was palpable. After getting one of Patterson's books signed by him, a young woman (pictured below) told me that she was so emotional it was hard not to cry when meeting him.
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/15/13
James Patterson at Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/15/13
The Savannah Book Festival continues [PDF] on Saturday when more than 30 prominent authors will be on hand to make presentations and sign their books. The authors include former Vice President Al Gore, CNN's Jake Tapper, Navy psychologist Heidi Squier Kraft, former Navy Seal Don Mann, co-anchor of the Today show Hoda Kotb, and Pulitzer Prize winners Leonard Pitts, Jr. and Garry Wills. The 6th Annual Savannah Book Festival concludes on Sunday afternoon with author David Baldacci delivering the closing address.
More about James Patterson, Savannah Book Festival, Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club, children's books
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