Bill Clinton and James Patterson Team Up on Novel--Update

By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg Features Dow Jones Newswires

Former president Bill Clinton and author James Patterson are at work on a novel called "The President Is Missing" that will be jointly published next year by Alfred A. Knopf and Little, Brown & Co.

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The book, described by the publishers as "a unique amalgam of intrigue, suspense and behind-the-scenes global drama from the highest corridors of power," will be President Clinton's first novel. Terms couldn't be learned.

This isn't the first time a former president has tried his hand at writing a novel. President Jimmy Carter, a prolific writer, wrote a work of fiction called "The Hornet's Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War," published by CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster in 2003.

President Clinton's only major work to date is his 2004 memoir "My Life, " a title that has sold an estimated 2.9 million in all formats in the U.S., according to Knopf.

Mr. Patterson is one of the country's most popular and prolific writers. Through January 2016, he had sold more than 350 million books world-wide, according to his website. A mystery novel he co-authored with David Ellis, "The Black Book," ranked No. 4 on The Wall Street Journal hardcover fiction best-seller list for the week ended April 30.

In an interview, Mr. Patterson said that "we're in pretty good shape with the book. I think it will appeal to anybody who likes to read mysteries as a matter of habit or occasionally. It's a really good story with incredible insider detail."

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Mr. Patterson declined to specify how the two men are collaborating, noting only that he and Mr. Clinton have met over the years in Florida as well as in Westchester County, N.Y., where both have homes.

"Even though I'm in a red state, people here will be curious," said Sarah Bagby, co-owner of Watermark Books & Café in Wichita, Kan. "Pairing them together was surprising, and it got my attention. We're going to represent it in the store like we would any blockbuster."

Presidential historian Robert Dallek, however, sounded a less enthusiastic note. "Ex-presidents are entitled to have fun but there are ways to do it without producing a potboiler," he said.

Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for Knopf, said the sale was first negotiated by Washington-based lawyer Robert Barnett, and subsequently between the two publishers.

"Mr. Barnett brought the project to the two publishers in April," said Mr. Bogaards. "It made sense to do it jointly. Mr. Patterson is published by Little, Brown and we publish President Clinton."

In an email, Mr. Barnett said that he has represented both men "for years." A spokesman for Little, Brown declined comment.

The publishing date of June 11, 2018, is just prior to Father's Day, traditionally a big day for book sales.

The authors are expected to appear on a book tour together.

Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at jeffrey.trachtenberg@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 08, 2017 16:38 ET (20:38 GMT)