Sunday, June 26, 2022

In Conversation with James Patterson by Annette Dashofy

A few months back, I received an email from a library where I’d done a talk last fall. They had received a grant and were using it to bring James Patterson (THE James Patterson) to the area. He had requested a local moderator to join him on stage to discuss his memoir. The librarian asked if I’d be interested. 

I replied yes (HELL YES) without a second thought. 

It was far from a done deal. I had to submit a letter telling about myself and why I wanted to do this and why I thought I was the right person for the job. They also wanted a list of ten sample questions. I have no idea how many others were applying for the moderator role, but apparently I was not alone.

 To be honest, it had been a long time since I’d read a James Patterson novel. So many books, so little time. And the man puts out a LOT of novels each year. I knew I had to do my homework. The librarian stressed this conversation would be about his autobiography. His life. Yes, I downloaded and read/listened to as many of his novels as I could before the event, but my homework and the source of my sample questions was his MasterClass. 

I compiled all the requested material and sent it off. And waited. After a few weeks, I got the word—I had been selected! 

His speaker’s bureau sent me an early copy of the book and requested another list of questions—the real ones this time—to be approved. 

(They were.) 

Leading up to the event, there wasn’t much for me to do. I didn’t have to promote because tickets sold out almost immediately. Five hundred seats, all filled. 

Nothing to be nervous about. Ha! 

In the final weeks leading up to June 16, I changed my mind about my wardrobe five or six times. I settled on my comfy flat shoes over heels, figuring I’d be nervous enough without worrying about falling on my face. Since it was 90 degrees and sauna-level humidity that day, I opted for a flowy blouse and lightweight cardigan rather than my lined, heavyweight suit jacket. 

The evening of the event, the weather forecasters called for heavy storms, winds, hail, possible tornados, all striking during the time I’d be making the hour or so trip to Harmony PA and the Steamfitters Event Center. The good news was the storms missed us. The bad news was rush hour traffic was even worse than usual. I hate arriving late, and it looked like I would be cutting it close. 

Then Google Maps deposited me in the middle of a farmer’s field. 

I strongly considered resting my head on my steering wheel and crying. 

But after a long discussion with Google, she redirected me back the way I’d just come and took me right to the front door of the event center. Now seriously, Google, why couldn’t you have done that the first time? 

At least I wasn’t late. Punctual, but not late. 

Everyone from the library was wonderful and grateful to have me there. James arrived a few minutes after I did, along with his entourage. 

I don’t have an entourage. 

We were all directed into the green room to get mic’d. James and I had a lovely chat about what he expected. He assured me we’d have fun.

In the "green room" prior to the event

Someone caught an image of us
 on the BIG screen

A few minutes before seven, event center staff bustled us through the backstage area where we waited behind a closed door while one of the librarians introduced us. “Go,” someone ordered and nudged me through that door and onto the stage to the applause of 500 smiling fans. 

James Patterson’s fans. I knew that was the case going in and was fine with it. Besides, where else can you get that kind of exposure to mystery/suspense readers? 

I had forty-five minutes to ask my questions, which consisted of me lobbing the opening of one of his many personal stories at him and then sitting back and letting him do his thing. I had to pay close attention though. He frequently answered questions I hadn’t asked yet while shifting from one story of his life to another. But it was great. I finished my list exactly on time. Then the audience had fifteen minutes to ask their questions. At 8:01, I spotted James’s assistant signaling from the sidelines. Wrap it up. Which I did. 

His signing table was already set up and “his people” had the signing process down to a science. One took the book from the adoring fan, opened it to the right page, and set it before James. Another accepted phones and snapped photos of the fans and James. I heard someone say he signed 300 books in an hour. 

James's assistant taking photos

The signing line wrapped around the room

It was amazing.

 But that didn’t leave a lot of time for him to chat with those fans. I stood nearby and took care of that part. Several came over to me and asked if they could ask me questions. I said yes (HELL, YES) and had lovely exchanges with some avid readers. 

Oh, and his assistant made sure to sneak my copy in for James to sign. 

"Annette--you were (are) great!" 
I'll take it!

It was a fast-paced, very structured, whirlwind of an evening. I was relieved when it was over. 

After the event, a group shot with
the librarians who worked so hard to put this on 

And I’m beyond grateful to have been part of it. 

Fellow authors, have you ever been part of an event with a “megastar?” Fellow readers, who’s the biggest-name author you’ve ever met or want to meet?




  1. I haven't had any experience to compare with yours, Annette. I hope you get a bunch of new readers because of the exposure.

  2. What a great opportunity and event! Kudos to you, Annette for taking it on. Hopefully, those 500 readers join your fan club!

  3. Thanks, Jim. I doubt I get 500 new readers, Martha. I'd be thrilled with a fraction of that!

  4. How wonderful, Annette.
    I can't imagine that experience!
    You did a great job and you were beautiful! One day, another author will be on stage, with you, feeling so proud and happy to meet and interview the well-known, popular American author...Annette Dashofy!! ❤
    -Janet T.

  5. Janet, that's a sweet thought. Thank you.

  6. Such an awesome opportunity, Annette! I know you rocked it.

    Did they sell your books, too? (I hope so.)

  7. Edith, no books were sold at the event. James's memoir came with the ticket price and was distributed as everyone entered. But there were no other books available for purchase. I did get a great write-up in the event's program that everyone received along with the memoir.

  8. This is so cool!

    No, I’ve not ever been part of an event with a megastar where I actually met and spoke with them. The biggest name author I’ve ever met was brokered through my vet. He plays tennis with Janet Evanovich. We shared a delightful chat at the vet’s office one day. She couldn’t have been nicer, or more accommodating.

  9. How cool, Kait! I'd consider Janet Evanovich as a mystery megastar for sure! I've heard lovely things about her.

  10. Hi Annette, this is wonderful! I'm sure you were terrific (no thanks to Google Maps).
    No megastars for me, alas!
    I was trying to read James' inscription to you - You were (pie?) great? Sorry, I'm bleary after my trip.
    So happy you got the chance to do this. I'm sure it will open even more doors for you.

  11. Annette, thanks so much for this play-by-play that I've been eagerly waiting for. A career high, I'm sure.
    I once was sure I saw Lisa Scottoline at a philly restaurant. After fan-girling at her, my husband asked her if she was Lisa. It wasn't... just an ordinary Jane enjoying her lasagne. That's the closest I've gotten.
    I'll watch James' social media posts for his account of meeting the amazing Annette Dashofy. Best, Cindy

  12. Shari, it says "You were (ARE) great" referring to my moderating duties.

    Cindy, if we're ever at a conference together and Lisa is there, I would be happy to introduce you to her. She's a good friend and a lovely person.

  13. Such an amazing experience, Annette!

  14. I am sure you did a wonderful job from the initial questions (which got you selected over everyone else), to the interview, to being gracious and meeting new readers. Hope his readers all become yours.

  15. Thank you, Susan and Debra. If nothing else, it was a confidence builder. If I could sit on a stage with James Patterson and hold my own in front of 500 readers, most other speaking gigs should be a piece of cake!

  16. What a great opportunity, and you rocked it!

    Couldn't have happened to a harder-working, more deserving person.

  17. Thank you so much, Kathleen! That means a lot to me.