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JANUARY 30, 2013
So who's really your favorite author?
If you’re a James Patterson fan, you’re probably glad he publishes something like 20 books a year. But you may have noticed there’s often another author’s name on the jacket as well, usually Maxine Paetro or Andrew Gross. These are co-writers, collaborators hired by Patterson to do the bulk of the actual writing after he gives them some general plot ideas.
Patterson’s not alone in using collaborators. Tom Clancy hasn’t written his own book in about a decade. More recently, thriller writer Wilbur Smith became the latest to employ them. In fact, Smith just signed a six-book deal with Harper Collins even though he actually may not be doing any of the writing. At 79 years of age, Mr. Smith just can't crank out the stories the way he used to, so other writers will be doing a lot of the storytelling.
It sure is a complex world when you don’t know if your favorite book by your favorite author was actually written by your favorite author!
Being a snob, I can’t say I’m a fan of this recent publishing trend. But how recent is it? As I did some research, I was shocked to discover that some of my favorite books (many of them more than a century old) were in fact composed by teams of unknown scribblers in the employment of superstar writers. One famous example is Alexandre Dumas, author of such classics as The Three Muskateers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and The Count of Monte Cristo
These are all huge novels and probably total over a million words. I’ve always thought Dumas was so prolific because he had no life and lived in a time before the Internet, television, radio, or basketball could distract him. Imagine my surprise to learn that Dumas wrote very little of “his” most famous works, outsourcing much of their creation to entire teams of assistants!
Imagine that: Alexandre Dumas was the James Patterson of his day! Heck, maybe we'll discover that William Shakespeare really didn't write all those plays. Maybe Will hired some fifteen year olds to compose Romeo and Juliet.
And now it is time to fess up. I didn’t even write this blog post. I just came up with the idea and a student at Moore Middle School did the composition. Thanks for the help, kid! I was really in a rush this week and just couldn’t be bothered.

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posted by Sean, Standley Lake Library


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