MAXINE PAETRO is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction books and the co-author of famed thriller author James Patterson. Mr. Patterson created the popular Women’s Murder Club Series, and for several years now has been collaborating with Ms. Paetro. I had the good fortune to contact Ms. Paetro and conduct this e-interview, wherein we discussed about the Women’s Murder Club, the new book in the series, and the future of the series.
Interview conducted by
Narayan Radhakrishnan, staff review for New Mystery Reader
NMR: Thank you Ms Paetro for sparing the time for this interview.
MP: It is my pleasure, Narayan.
NMR: Now this is a question that has been in my mind for quite sometime.- how did you both meet- and how come you became the co-author of James Patterson.
MP: I met Jim in the early 1970s when I was a "headhunter," an employment agent, and he was looking for his first job as a copywriter in advertising. Over the many years that followed, we kept in touch. He became the World Wide Creative Director of J. Walter Thompson and I became an executive recruitment officer in other large agencies and we both wrote novels in our own time.
Jim’s success both as an advertising creative executive and as a novelist was meteoric. He had many ideas for thrillers, more than he had the time to write, and one day, almost thirty years after we first met, he asked me if I would like to work with him on one of his stories. Clearly, and very luckily, I said "yes."
NMR: What is the work process like, and what is your role as a co-author?
MP: Jim comes up with the idea for the novel and a detailed structure of the story. I work on this idea and structure, sending the writing to him often as the novel progresses and receiving input from him over the entire life of the work in progress. When the first and second drafts are completed, Jim takes full possession of the novel, editing, writing and shepherding the book through to publication.
NMR: How is it like working with Mr. Patterson- are you over- awed by working with a legend- and if I am not being too inquisitive, how is Patterson the author - and the person?
MP: Jim and I have a friendship of many years. I am in awe of his enormous talent, as anyone would be. He is one-of-a-kind with a phenomenal and far-reaching imagination, and a keen ability to know what excites readers. I love working with Jim. He is not only smart, he is very funny. I tend to over-think and worry. As you will notice from pictures of Jim on the backs of some of our books, he wears a baseball cap with the word "Relax" printed on it. Sometimes he says to me, "Relax, Max," and I take that as an order! How could you not love working with a man like this?
NMR: Could you tell us a bit on how the Womens’s Murder Club Series came into being? I know you are a late entrant into the series but….
MP: Jim came up with this idea long before I started working with him as a co-writer. I would only be guessing as to his inspiration for what has turned out to be an extremely successful series.
NMR: Now this question is more personal, as a lawyer myself- I have always wondered what prompted Patterson to kill off Jill Bernhardt and bring into the picture another attorney Yuki Castellano? Again, though this is before your time- do you have any idea…???
MP: Narayan, again, I would be only guessing, but the good news for the Jill Bernhardt fans is that Jill will be alive and well in the new Women's Murder Club television series. Welcome back, Jill!
NMR: Wow, that’s a relief…welcome back Jill…. Now, Ma’am, as a co-author do you see yourselves restricting with the Women’s Murder Club series- or can we expect other collaborative ventures with Mr. Patterson outside the Women’s Murder Club.
MP: Jim and I are currently talking about a non-WMC collaboration now. It is a very exciting idea for a thriller and I am eager to join him on this writing venture. Afterwards, I will be ready to get back to "the girls" and work with Jim on the next WMC book.
NMR: Can we expect a solo thriller from Maxine Paetro in the near future?
MP: I have no plans to go solo at this time, Narayan. I am doing what I love to do, working with a writer I admire who challenges me professionally and who is also a friend. I also love having a second life with the women in the Womens' Murder Club -- who in a way, feel like friends, too.
NMR: And this is for the ardent fans of the Women’s Murder Club series- could you give us some details about 7th HEAVEN- the next in the series? And what more can we expect from Women’s Murder Club in the future?
MP: The principal story in 7th Heaven is a real scorcher. It concerns two very intelligent young men who have everything -- including an unquenchable lust to kill. Also in this book is a love story, mysterious, deep, and like no other. 7th Heaven is scheduled for publication in February of 2008.
It is too soon to talk about the 8th book in the series except to say that all four of the main characters are fully involved in crimes and in personal crises that will dramatically affect their lives. Mark your calendar for this book's debut in 2009. You will not want to miss it.
NMR: About your career in advertising, has your professional background and experience in advertising helped you?
MP: My career in advertising was as a "people person." I recruited and hired and helped manage creative people in a high-pressure environment and so this was like getting an advanced degree in psychology -- a great foundation for a writer.
I have always wondered, each book gives a deadly, evil, sinister, diabolic villain (which will make even Hannibal Lecter a saint). So how do you face the challenge to make the evil guy in the next book more deadly, more evil, more sinister and more diabolic? How do you cope up with this challenge? I mean isn’t there a saturation point to ‘evilness degree”?
I'm not sure each "bad guy" has to be more evil than the next, just evil in a different way. I'm thinking of a real bad guy, recently convicted in the USA of murdering a beautiful, happy, and well-loved young girl he had kidnapped and sexually abused. This man killed the child by burying her alive in a garbage bag. Before sealing the garbage bag, this killer gave the child her favorite stuffed toy to take with her into the grave. How evil can someone be? Sometimes fiction pales in comparison to the real thing.
NMR: As you mentioned about the Women’s Murder Club series being soon on Television. Will you (both) be writing the screenplay for the same?. Will the stories be based on the books themselves, or will they be independent stories?
MP: I am not personally involved in the television series, but Jim is. He is an executive producer on this show and a very active one. As of now, the stories are original to the creators of the show, not based on the books in the series.
NMR: Thank you Ms. Paetro for this interview. Just cant wait to get my hands on 7th Heaven and the 8th book and the 9th book and the 10th……