ND THE BOOK James Patterson: mysteries, thrillers and . . . falling in love I'm James Patterson and I write thrillers such as Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls.

Having said that, let me tell you a love story.

Around 18 months ago, I had a glimmer of an idea to write a novel called Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas.

The story begins with a book editor who has fallen in love for the first time in her life, and she has fallen hard. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, the man walks out on her. A day later, she receives a diary and the following note from her lover: Dear Katie, No words or actions can begin to tell you what I'm feeling now. I'm so sorry about what I allowed to happen between us. It was all my fault, of course. I take all the blame. You are perfect, wonderful, beautiful. It's not you. It's me. Maybe this diary will explain things better than I ever could. If you have the heart, read it.

It's about my wife and son, and me. I will warn you, though, there will be parts that may be hard for you to read. I never expected to fall in love with you, but I did. Matt
Katie can't help herself; she starts the diary. And reading it changes her life. To be totally honest, the prospect of writing this novel scared me, because it was a love story actually two love stories and I had never even written one love story before. I remember that it was a Monday and that I happened to be in the offices of Little, Brown in New York City. I was meeting with the publisher and the editor in chief and suddenly I found myself saying, "Let me tell you a story that I can't get out of my head. I must warn you though, it's not a thriller." I told the story I had in mind for Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, and when I finished, both of these somewhat tough (though tender on the inside) New Yorkers were crying.

At this point, I knew I had to try to get the story down on paper if I could.

For the next 10 months, every day, I continued to be scared, but I also was as excited as I had ever been while writing a book. I customarily write in my office, but I wrote Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas in the bedroom. I usually write six or seven drafts of a novel, but I wrote 11 drafts for Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas.

When I was finished, I gave it to my wife to read. When she came out of our bedroom about four hours later, she was crying.

I gave it to friends to read, and they cried. And then, this spring, a bookseller got hold of a reader's copy and sent me this e-mail. He wrote: "I'm an Irish man, and I don't cry. I never cry. I just finished Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, and I cried for the first time in 20 years. Thank you." Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas comes out on July 16. Take it to the beach. But you better bring a handkerchief.

Former advertising executive James Patterson has become a one-man publishing powerhouse, with a string of best-selling novels, including the Alex Cross thrillers and a new mystery series, launched with the spring release of 1st to Die. His latest novel, Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas is a romantic departure from his earlier work. Patterson lives with his wife, Sue, and their young son. They have homes in New York and Florida.

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