James Patterson, the world’s best-selling author, will appear Sunday, October 7 at 10 am at Capitol Theater (inside Overture Center for the Arts) to talk with Wisconsin Public Radio’s Steve Paulson about his new children’s book, Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment, the first in a new series about a girl who’s a descendent of Albert Einstein and a genius in STEM.
“There’s no one else on this scale,” says Festival director Conor Moran. “It’s literally the biggest author in the world coming to our city. To get him having a conversation with Steve Paulson about why he wrote Max Einstein but also his reading and writing life and the whole books in our lives, I think it’ll be a particularly special day.”
Patterson’s books have sold 375 million copies worldwide and he holds the Guinness World Record for most New York Times bestsellers, including Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha.
Like every one of the 65 events scheduled between October 7 and 11, the James Patterson talk is free.
“That’s the thing that differentiates the Wisconsin book festival from a lot of other events, even across the nation,” Moran says. “As a festival goer, I can show up and see something world class, put on in a great way, and it doesn’t cost me anything. It’s really important to the people who make the donations to the Madison Public Library foundation that these events are free and open to the public. We do have a membership program that allows people to help keep them free and open to the public, but our guiding star is making sure that people have access to this and that we’re giving a microphone to as many different types of people, audiences, view points as possible and really being responsive to what people want to see.”
The first 500 young readers who attend the James Patterson event will get a free copy of Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment. Additionally, adults at the James Patterson event will be able to buy Patterson’s new book, Ambush, the latest Detective Michael Bennett thriller, two days before it goes on sale to the general public.
The Patterson event is nearly three years in the making, and Moran thinks the success of previous festivals — and Madison’s book-loving audience — made it attractive to the blockbuster author.
“Really it comes down to (Patterson’s) willingness to do it,” Moran says. “We put together great events in Madison. People come, they show up, they buy books, and all of those things worked together to make an event like that possible.”
Moran expects to repeat or exceed last year’s total attendance of about 16,000 people. The festival represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including authors with Wisconsin ties.
“I’m also really excited about Jamel Brinkley’s A Lucky Man and JM Holmes’ How are You Going to Save Yourself?” Moran says. “JM Holmes is in Milwaukee and Jamel was a writing institute fellow at the University last year and it’s so great to see such great work coming out of Wisconsin, so I’m very excited about that. And additionally, Lucy Tan and Chloe Benjamin, who are also Wisconsin authors. I think our fiction slate is really great this year.”
There are also a number of books on issues very much on the nation’s minds these days.
“Personally, I’m really excited about Carol Anderson’s One Person, No Vote,” Moran says. “She’s talking about voter suppression across the country. She definitely has a lot to say about Wisconsin and I think it’s one of those great opportunities where what’s happening here really informs the national conversation.
“I did not really know, four months ago, that having Consent on Campus and then, Good and Bad: How Women’s Anger is Changing America back to back on Saturday, October 13, was going to be such a timely and important conversation to have.”
Several of these highly topical book talks will be broadcast on the national cable network C-Span which will include call-in conversations.
“We’ll be a part of that national conversation in a really direct way,” Moran says. “People around the country will be able to watch what’s happening here, in the Community Room at Central Library, but then also a national audience will be able to take part in what’s going on in the community room. And I think that’s just so special.”
The Wisconsin Book Festival’s full schedule, searchable by genre and venue, is available here. All events are free and open to the public and no registration is required.