Singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, philanthropist
Teams up with
Novelist James Patterson
Touted as the world’s best-selling author
Tops in their fields, entertainer Dolly Parton and novelist James Patterson are two disparate artists who have recently collaborated on writing a thriller titled Run, Rose, Run. While you may or may not be a fan of Patterson’s thrillers, many people agree that Dolly Parton is a uniting force, bringing together folks of all ages, genders, religions, and social classes.
When our public library offered a book that the novelist and song-writer collaborated on, I was intrigued, knowing Patterson had earlier partnered with a former president, Bill Clinton, on another thriller, The President is Missing, which I’ve not read.
If you are curious about how Parton and Patterson weave original country music songs with a fast-paced narrative, have a look at the interview.
How did this collaboration come about?
JP: I’ve always admired Dolly, and I had this germ of an idea for a novel. And so I contacted her, and she said, “Well, come on down and let’s talk.”
DP: And we talked and we talked and we talked — and we really found that we liked each other, and I really liked the idea that he had. Of course, I moved to Nashville when I was 18, so I understood the young character AnnieLee. And now that I’ve been in the business so long, I relate to Ruthanna. He had all these great ideas.
JP: Dolly contributed a lot to exactly what the story should be.
DP: Well, but you’re the one that gets all the mystery in there. I didn’t have as mysterious a life as either one of those women did.
What was the writing process like?
DP: He would send me pages, then I would get great ideas for songs, and send the lyrics back. But he hadn’t heard any of the music, with the instruments and the melodies, so I invited him down for a big listening party. I was just a nervous wreck, hoping he’d like the music, but it really turned out good.
JP: When we met, she said, “I’ve written thousands of country songs. I could write one right here standing on my head. Want to see?” And I’ll tell you, right after that meeting, Dolly sent songs and I was, like, Damn, I better get going here. And sometimes you would write songs that would give me ideas for a couple of new chapters, or for just a phrase.
DP: It was probably a good year and a half, I guess, from our first initial meeting until we got it in the book.
James, you’ve collaborated on books with so many people, including Bill Clinton. How did this compare?
JP: They’ve all been good. And one of the things about both Dolly and President Clinton is they brought authenticity to the book. “Here’s what would happen.” “This is what it would feel like.” So there’s that similarity — but she is a lot more fun.
DP: And Bill Clinton can’t write a song worth a flip! [Laughs.]
JP: It’s worked out great. I mean, here we are — we’re both over 40, and I don’t think we’ve been better at our game. The album is just spectacular.
DP: Well, thank you.
The star of this novel, AnnieLee Keyes, is roughly Dolly’s counterpart, singing about the hard life she is trying to escape while traveling to Nashville to pursue her fortune in country music. As the book’s blurb suggests, a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run is determined to do whatever it takes to survive. The novel glitters with danger and desire, a mood captured by one of the songs embedded in the narrative, Run, Rose, Run.
Listen to “Woman Up and Take It Like a Man,” another a song that captures Dolly’s persona, and perhaps AnnieLee’s ambition which grows stronger and more focused as the novel progresses. Both the novel’s main character and Dolly,AnnieLee’s alter ego, take pride in out-maneuvering managers and other males with malicious intent.
You may remember Dolly as Doralee Rhodes n the box office hit, 9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias released in the 1980s. Riveting and rousing to action, as I recall.
Are you a fan of either artist?
Do you have experience with collaboration? What are the benefits? The pitfalls?
Coming next: Laurie Buchanan, Fast-Paced with Plot Twists