James Patterson is getting a lot of work done. The bestselling author, whose two thriller series have been blockbuster hits, has released at least two books a year on average since 1997. This year, he’ll beat that average with four, including his first children’s book in October and the 10th in the Alex Cross series, London Bridges, in November.

American Way: You write books about serial killers, and now you’ve got Sam’s Letters to Jennifer, your second love story, and a children’s book, santaKid, coming out. What’s with that?
James Patterson: I want to keep doing different things. It can be a santaKid or it can be an Alex Cross. I have a million ideas. And I just got so many incredible responses to the first love story [Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas] that I just had to write another one.

AW: And the children’s book?
Patterson: It’s about Santa Claus’ little girl. A company called Exmas Express buys the North Pole. Then this little girl does what she can to turn the tables on them.
AW: You’ve been CEO of an advertising agency and had several bestsellers. Why not just take it easy?
Patterson: I am. Writing is an escape. It is not a job, not work. It’s play. People will talk about my “formula.” But my formula is that I write about things I’m passionate about and about things I feel there will be a large audience for. I want to play to a big house, not a small room of critics.
— Joe Guinto

What’s on the night table of one of America’s most prolific authors?
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward
Blue Blood by Edward Conlon