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
I like the “we” here–and I thought, oh my, I didn’t know Marian was working on a novel! But what you’ve woven together here makes a fascinating post–stuff I didn’t know, for sure. I like Dolly ok, with the philanthropic work she has done over the years I’ve become an admirer! We never know what to expect on your blog. Fun reading.
I also thought Marian had written a novel when I saw the title of the post come across my email!
Melodie and Liz: the title was intended a a “hook,” and I’m pleased that you fell for it. And I’m glad you like the variety on my blog. Some writers stick to one topic, which works for them but would be boring for me.
Thanks for starting the conversation here, Melodie and Liz. 😀
I absolutely love Dolly Parton – she’s done so much for so many – the underprivileged, donated millions of books in her drive to encourage reading and therefore education – What a curious colab! But I can see how these under 40’s created the spark together thanks to your lovely post thanks Marian. I’ve read a few James Patterson in my time. I know he’s collabbed with other authors (including the one with Bill Clinton) but those I haven’t read. I enjoy a spicy read from time to time where there’re the good guys and the baddies and good triumphs.(Even if grisly).
Yes I’ve had experience with collaboration – on my 2nd book. With Jungian analyst, good friend of mine (in Phoenix Az). We discussed ‘aging’ and what it means to each of us personally. We look at it all psychologically. Very in-depth and challenging-and writing about the ‘unsaid’.
Hope all well!
Yes, Parton and Patterson are a curious combination. I suppose they’ve both reached the zeniths of their careers and are re-inventing themselves in this way, not a bad thing actually.
Yes, you did partner with another author also named Susan. Here is the link for other readers: https://www.amazon.com/Aging-Becoming-Reflective-Susan-Scott/dp/1541164016/ref=sr_1_14?crid=W5Q4CEPTDK05&keywords=susan+scott+author&qid=1652900146&s=books&sprefix=susan+scott+author%2Cstripbooks%2C69&sr=1-14
Thank you for your good wishes! 😀
Thank you Marian for providing the link to ‘Aging & Becoming – a Reflective Enquiry’ by myself and Dr Susan E Schwartz. Much appreciated💙
My pleasure, Susan!
Well I like both of the James Patterson/Clinton collaborations, so this will be interesting to check out. I will look for it during my shifts at the library.
Our library has multiple copies, so maybe yours has stocked up too. The volume I read was on hold for several weeks, I’m sure because of the high-profile authors. Let us know what you find, Arlene. 😀
I read his collaboration with Bill Clinton. Very pedestrian in my opinion. This one peeks my interest. I may have to give it a try after I finish my summer reading list of 13.
I love Dolly Parton and have read some of Patterson’s books. Such a collaboration of minds and talent can only produce something worth reading.
IRWIN, many readers and music lovers would agree with you. It’s good to see you here again. 😀
CAROLYN, I don’t regard Patterson’s work as great literature, but it does serve as an escape for many people. Perhaps a beach read. Dolly’s music drew me in, as you can tell. Thanks for weighing in today! 😀
I’ve always liked Dolly Parton’s music, and it’s been fun reading about all of her new ventures. She’s not one to rest of her laurels, for sure. I haven’t read anything by James Patterson. Most of of the writing I did for my career was collaborative. Fiction and poetry? All mine, mine, mine!
I admire your creative work. It’s obvious you enjoy the freedom of fiction and poetry, especially. If you like Dolly’s music, you probably enjoyed the video clips. Thanks for sharing here, Liz. 😀
You’re welcome, Marian. Yes, I did enjoy Dolly’s video clips.
Good morning, Marian! I’m not the first responder today because I was already out walking when your post dropped. I’m not likely to read the novel. I admire all the good work that Dolly Parton does, and I’m sure she could write a song just like that!
I think you must have asked about collaboration before because I remember mentioning the Rape Cultures book I did with Tuba Inal, a professor in Sweden.
You are smart to walk in the early morning. Now that dawn comes earlier, you can enjoy walks before 6:00.
The topic of collaboration did come up when I promoted Shirley Showalter’s The MIndful Grandparent a few weeks ago. I’m sure poetry appeals to you more than pop culture, andI imagine that you are creating some verse of your own right now. Thanks, Merril! 😀
Of course I’m still a fan of pop culture, too. 😀
I like Dolly Parton because she always seems so genuine. She knows what it’s like to live the hard life and has pulled herself up by her bootstraps.
Elfrienda, I agree with you. I think that Dolly is the most fake-looking genuine performer I know. And she’s not one to rest on her laurels as her recent songs demonstrate. 😀
I watched an interview on CBS Mornings with both artists and they seemed genuinely happy with this collaboration and how it turned out. I love the fact that he sent her chapters which inspired song ideas and she gave him lyrics which inspired new chapters! Personally, I adore Dolly Parton. Her philanthropic pursuits are incredible and her talent is boundless. Thanks Marian for a positive start to my day!
You are welcome, Melanie. I’m glad this post hit the spot for you. I missed the CBS Morning show, but I’m glad you could fill in with more details here. Thanks for that! 😀
Marian, I heard about their collaboration via a newletter I receive by email. so cool that you featured it. I also admire Dolly Parton. She is an inspiration to so many. And I have enjoyed some of James Patterson’s books.
I have written books with others before I am currently working on a picture book with a friend,
You are full of surprises. I did not know about the picture book with a friend (in progress). All the best in your current collaboration, Linda Marie! 😀
I didn’t know about this collaboration and what a hoot! I’m sure it’s great, how could it not be with Dolly involved? I loved her character in Steel Magnolias: “There is no such thing as natural beauty.”
Ally, I had forgotten about that quote from Steel Magnolias. That Dolly does all she can to enhance her beauty, even if it means looking slightly kooky! 😀
What an interesting collaboration. Dolly Parton never ceases to amaze me. I have never written in collaboration with another person but It may be fun to try at some point.
Darlene, it may take some adjustment to collaborate with another author, but I think you would be good at it. It certainly would take the solitariness out of a writing project. Thanks for sharing! 😀
Hi Marian, I do know James Patterson’s books and Dolly Parton’s music but would never have considered them together. What a great idea for a book. Thanks for sharing about it.
You’re welcome, Robbie. I know you and family members have collaborated on projects–in the kitchen and on the computer. Great, I say! : 😀
Thanks, Marian, for sharing. I finished the book about a month ago. It was very entertaining. My son, Brian, ordered it for me and his 3 aunts. We all love Dolly. She is such a giving person, and very talented. Brian has loved her since he was a little boy. When he was about 12, and still had his little boy voice, she walked by his seat at her concert. He said, “I love you Dolly!”. She turned and got his hands and said, “I love you, too, Honey!” He said he couldn’t feel his legs. 😄
Wow, THAT is a story! I’d say Brian was star-struck, maybe still is! You may have told me this a long time ago, but thanks for regaling us with it here, so others can see it. Huge thanks, Bonnie! 😀
Hi, Marian! Your “We Wrote A Novel!” comment was a great hook! Thanks for sharing this. Our local book club chose this book as last month’s reading. I enjoyed it and certainly saw Dolly’s influence in the story. Our members gave it mixed reviews, but I thought it was a good read.
I can see how your book clubbers may give the book mixed reviews. I thought the plot seemed a little contrived, but it certainly fit the character. What I admire most is the collaboration between the two creatives, both gifted, and the music that Dolly created expressly for the novel. It’s so good to hear from you, Patty! 😀
You’re finding some great collaborations these weeks! Who did this interview with the collaborators? It’s an interesting concept to combine book writing with music lyrics!
The link in red just under the grouping of photos in the blog post leads to this website: aarp.org:https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/books/info-2022/dolly-parton-james-patterson-interview.html AARP is the acronym for American Association of Retired Persons, where I originally found the article and interview.
The collaboration between the two mediums is what caught my attention. Thanks for noticing, Liesbet! 😀
Though not a country music fan, I’ve always liked Dolly Parton. She has a big and seemingly genuine personality. I usually like James Patterson books, but I read a children’s book he wrote called “I Funny” that was anything but funny to me.
Patterson seems to be getting mixed reviews from readers here, and from your comment, he probably should stick to adult thrillers. Success in children’s literature is actually difficult to pull off, so I’ve heard.
Welcome back from your travels. I’m sure you’ll blog about your adventures soon, but it must be nice to get back “in the groove” again. Thanks for dropping by, Pete! 😀
Hi Marian – I’d heard that Dolly Parton and James Patterson had collaborated on a book. I just checked and we do have a copy on the shelf at our library. I enjoyed the interview. They sounded like they had a lot of fun working together. By the way, did you know that Hillary Clinton collaborated on a book with Louise Penny? I guess that’s a thing now. Thanks for posting this – it was a fun read!
I did not know about the Hillary Clinton-Louise Penny combo. Thanks for mentioning this, Barbara.
It strikes me that influential people like to find new ways to be creative. Also, with technology like Zoom calls, Face-timing, and simple email sharing has never made collaboration more feasible–and attractive. . 😀
I don’t know much about Dolly Parton apart from that Miley Cyrus is her goddaughter I watched programme on it…it sounds like a fun collaboration 🙂
Carol, you know more about Dolly’s relationships than I do. I know she is big on personal connections, a very good thing. Thanks for tuning in! :=D
You are welcome it was an interesting collaboration , Marian 🙂
Interesting collaboration between these two. Somehow I don’t get the writing connection but everyone loves Dolly. 🙂
Patterson wrote a novel that parallels Dolly’s real life experience somewhat. She did none of the writing, but she did compose music (like the two tunes above) for a few of the novel’s themes. It’s not for everyone, but as you say, everyone loves Dolly. Thanks for weighing in, Debby! 😀
I did see the book in a local shop but was dubious. I have never read any James Patterson books so I can’t judge but I know the type and I’m not a huge fan but I’m open for change . I adore the inside and outside of Dolly Parton but collaboration in book form , not sure . The only way to find out is read it . Maybe a good idea for a book club .
I’m not particularly a Patterson fan, nor of crime dramas; however, like you, I’m a Dolly fan. According to what I’ve read, Dolly collaborated with Jim Patterson on the ideas, but did none of the writing. Her contribution was strictly musical–besides her undeniable moral support.
Thanks for sharing your opinion here, Cherry! oxo
I love the comment that Dolly Parton is more fun. She’s put out a sense of having fun for how long now? A long time and she’s always laughing and smiling. A fun read. Thanks, Marian.
Dolly must be in her seventies now and just keeps strummin’ away. I’m glad you enjoyed this odd collaboration, Elaine. 😀