September 26, 2016

James Patterson decides not to (fictionally) murder Stephen King


James Patterson announced the cancellation of this November book. (On Friday, the cover image wass still on the Bookshots website.)

James Patterson announced the cancellation of this November book. (On Friday, the cover image was still on the Bookshots website.)

James Patterson has cancelled the planned November publication of The Murder of Stephen King, a novel featuring Stephen King being stalked by his own characters. According to The Guardian, Patterson didn’t want to cause King and his family “any discomfort.” The prolific author’s good decision to cancel it only serves to highlight how much of a head-scratcher the original idea was.

King has dreamed up his fair share of deranged fans, from Misery’s axe-wielding Annie Wilkes who keeps her favourite author writing by chopping off his foot, to Morris Bellamy, the villain in his recent thriller Finders Keepers, who shoots his idol in the head. Patterson’s novel, which was only announced last week for publication in November, promised to feature “all of Stephen King’s greatest villains, rolled into one”.

“Stephen King is facing a nightmare. A stalker is re-enacting the horrors from his novels. And he won’t stop until he kills the master of suspense himself – unless King puts him out of his Misery first,” ran its description, with Patterson stating that the novelist “did not participate in the making of this novel, nor is he affiliated with it in any way”.

Hillel Italie at the Associated Press saw an early version of the book, which also features a detective names Jamie Patterson. He noted that it carried a disclaimer.

“A work of fiction,” readers are assured. “All incidents and dialogue, and all characters with the exception of Stephen and Tabitha King, are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.”

And, yes, the story has a happy ending.

But still, that title.

“I think it’s a good title,” Patterson told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “It’s exactly what the book is.”

Is this all revenge for that time King called Patterson “a terrible writer?” (It makes you wonder what Stephanie Meyer’s revenge novel would be… in the same article, King said that she “can’t write worth a darn.”) Patterson says no! Before cancelling it, he expressed hope that King would like the novel, maybe because “spoiler alert — the main character is not actually murdered.”

Patterson told AP last week that King’s remarks dismissing him as a terrible writer were “hyperbole”. “I know I’m not a terrible writer. That’s a little over the top,” said Patterson, adding that if King wrote a novel called The Murder of James Patterson he “would definitely want to read it”.



Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.