a.k.a: “How to meet your hero and then write a book with them”
It’s official – JAMDICE is a thing! (That’s our name for James+Candice – seriously we tried all the other combinations and they were rubbish. Pox? Fatterson? Errmm…) Ned Kelly Award-winning author and Australian Writers’ Centre presenter Candice Fox has teamed up with fiction behemoth James Patterson to write a book together!
Actually, they’re such legends that it’s already written. That is the speed at which Jamdice operates. As the ‘Dice’ half of the collaboration explains, it was only back in June 2015 that she was invited to attend a cocktail party at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was here that one James Patterson, bestselling author of a gazillion books (approximately), was launching a children’s book he had co-written with Ed Chatterton.
“I told my agent jokingly that when I met Patterson at the gig I was going to corner him and get him to agree to co-author a book with me,” Candice recalls. “She thought that was pretty funny. I didn't realise at the time that he was even looking for another crime author in Australia to write with – he'd written Private: Oz with Michael White and Private: Sydney with Kathryn Fox, so I imagined there was probably a queue already established to work with him.”
But Candice had been a Patterson fan since raiding her mother’s crime bookcase as a tween, and wouldn’t be so easily discouraged.
“At the party, no one seemed to have the balls to go anywhere near him. I got frustrated after a while and told the girls ‘I'm going over there.' ‘You can't!' one of them cried. I couldn't understand why. I pushed my way through the crowd in Patterson's immediate orbit and shoved my way to him.
“‘James,' I said. ‘I just wanted to tell you how much I've loved your books. I'm a crazy fan. I read Kiss the Girls when I was 12.'
“‘Oh God,' he laughed. ‘That's terrible. Your mother should have kept her books locked up tighter.’”
After a brief chat about her writing and his love of Australia, Candice admits that conversation topics were drying up and her awesomest moment was fast threatening to become awkwardest. Thankfully, in what she describes as “a magic moment of duplicity”, both authors were simultaneously tapped on the shoulder by different people, and their meeting in the crowded room was over in the most “insanely perfect” way.
Even then, at that point (just five months ago) it was still merely a fleeting introduction in a museum. However, things changed when Candice’s publisher invited her to lunch – the main course being the details of a collaboration, which began with a pitch of six ideas based on what Patterson wanted for the next Australian book! This was to be outside Patterson’s ‘Private’ series – and would include “a feisty female protagonist and a crime that made the most of the setting”.
In the few months since, Jamdice have put together “a brutal, action-packed and really hard-edged novel about a crime set in a FIFO mine in the outback”. And while Candice can’t reveal too many more details at this stage (or Jam will shoot her, then write about it), she does know that the book has some of the strongest protagonists she’s ever written. Big words coming from the author of Hades and Eden!
For her part, Candice is still pinching herself at the opportunity. “He's had more New York Times bestsellers than I've had hot breakfasts,” she enthused in a Facebook announcement. (Although it’s hard to measure this statement without knowing how much of a cereal-killer she is.)
The book, optimistically titled Never Never, is slated for publication in Australia in August, 2016.
You can get half your Jamdice fix much sooner if you’re in Sydney on 23 November 2015. Come along to our end of year Australian Writers’ Centre meetup where AWC director Valerie Khoo will take part in a Q&A with Candice Fox! Limited tickets available – more details here.