> Zed Book Club / Run, Rose, Run

Photos: Dolly (20th Century Fox/Handout/Getty Images); Run, Rose, Run; James Patterson (David Levenson/Getty Images)

> Bookshelf

Run, Rose, Run

In this Q&A with bestselling author James Patterson and country legend Dolly Parton, they talk about creating their "novel with a soundtrack." / BY Rosemary Counter / March 2nd, 2022

James Patterson has sold more than 425 million books, including thrillers starring Alex Cross, a Washington, D.C., psychologist and criminal profiler, and Michael Bennett, a widowed Manhattan detective with 10 adopted children. Then there are the children’s books, YA novels, romances and mysteries.

Parton, a fan of his Alex Cross novels, agreed to work with Patterson after he pitched an idea for a mystery about an up-and-coming singer named AnnieLee Keyes, who is mentored by the queen of country music, Ruthanna Ryder. Parton not only loved the idea, but sent him notes a few days later. Her songs are written into the story and vice versa, and Parton’s  12-song album, Run, Rose, Run, will be released March 7, the same day the book is published.

Dolly Parton


Before Parton, Patterson’s most famous co-author was former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who collaborated with him on two political thrillers: 2018’s The President is Missing and 2021’s The President’s Daughter.

Like the country music legend, Patterson heads a multi-million dollar entertainment empire. He is 74, she is 76. He is a philanthropist who supports children’s reading and literacy, too, donating a million books to students and US$7.25 million to school and classroom libraries. 


James Patterson
Photo: David Levenson/Getty Images

In this excerpt from an interview with the authors over the phone from Nashville, they talk about Dolly starring in the movie, her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, and their musical novel.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for length.)

Rosemary Counter: Good morning, everyone! How are you? 

James Patterson: We’re terrible, we both have the flu. No!

Dolly Parton: He lies! How are you? 

RC: I’m wonderful, but very nervous. I thought I should confess. 

DP: We can hear you real good, can you hear us?

RC: I can, yes. Where are you guys in the world?

JP: We’re in Nashville. 

DP: We’re in Nashville in the rain, and this is our first interview of the day so we’re getting all revved up. 

RC: Let’s begin at the beginning and congratulations on the book! 

Both: Thank you. 

RC: Did you guys know each other before? 

JP: We’ve been friends for a long time. We both do a lot for kids … and I said I have this rough idea for a novel, but I don’t know whether or not it’s good. Dolly said come down and let’s talk and see what happens. 

DP: Well, we did talk and we decided that it might be a good idea, because I’m a Tennessee girl and know all about what James was talking about. He had gone to school in Nashville, so he knew the city and the music, so it just seemed to be a perfect thing. Once he had a good story, I decided I might write some music for it. That was my idea and we collaborated back and forth. 

JP: That’s what’s really different about this book: It’s a novel about a young but very good country music singer trying to make it and she’s both a singer and a songwriter. All the songs in the book are also on the album. It’s kind of historic. I don’t think anybody else has done this before: a novel with a soundtrack. When I listened to the soundtrack, I thought, oh man, that’s so cool! You can really hear the book in the music and vice versa. 

DP: We’re kindred spirits! All the songs are about situations in the book. 

RC: It’s almost like you’ve invented a new genre. The musical novel? 

DP: It is, kinda! Jim, as I call him, or JJ – you can call him Jimmy – I forget what I was saying. Oh yeah, he had a great line: “It’s a mystery and history.” He said that yesterday. 

RC: Can you tell me a little bit more about the process? James, you had the idea?

JP: For a book, yes. We really did collaborate. One of the things that separates this book is the authenticity; you really do get a feeling for what it’s like for a young woman in Nashville to come in and feel that she has it, but you never know.


Dolly Parton
LOVE SEAT With Parton during press interviews for ‘Run, Rose, Run’. Photo: Courtesy of James Patterson


DP: I totally relate to both the younger character – having been young at one time – and the older woman who’s out of the business. Both are writing songs and doing their thing. I loved to have input on both those characters. 

RC: I read those characters as two sides of the same coin: you pre-fame and you post-fame. 

DP: I’d like this to become a movie and hopefully I’ll get to play the part of Ruthanna. That would be perfect. 

JP: The interest from Hollywood has already been insane. We had, like, 70-something groups that wanted to do the movie and we’re down to six now. Any of the six would be a terrific partner. 

RC: I have to ask, who do you think should play AnnieLee? 

Both: [laughing]

JP: I only know who should play Ruthanna. 

DP: We don’t know yet. Some people are saying we need a young singer in the business who’s already famous, but we’re kind of inclined to look for that character. 

JP: I think I should be in the movie.

DP: He has to play my boyfriend, Jack. He can play that. He’s a wonderful character too, so we’re going to need a handsome fellow for that. Hopefully, we can really make some magic between the young girl and her love interest. 

RC: I think I speak for the whole world when I suggest Miley Cyrus! 

DP: Yeah, we’ve talked about Miley. I love Miley and she’s my goddaughter and she’s a wonderful girl.

RC: Is there any part of Miley Cyrus that inspired the character of AnnieLee?

JP: No. I know of Miley, but —

DP: She’s so talented, but we’re not there yet! We’re just getting the book out
and the album. It would be a couple of years before a movie. 


James Patterson
Miley Cyrus (right) says her godmother Dolly Parton (left), onstage with her at the 2019 Grammy Awards, is “even better than your sparkliest dreams.” Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


JP: I must say it’s really a stunning experience to read the book and listen
to the album. 

RC: Dolly, how close are you to the Ruthanna character?

DP: I think I’m very close. There are differences, of course, mostly that I will not retire unless I’m forced to. I would never tell a young person that bad advice to “get out of Nashville, now.” I would never crush a young person’s dreams. But I relate to her so much in so many ways. She has her own studio, she keeps a band, she writes songs on a daily basis. But I really relate to both characters a great deal.

RC: I see you’re one of People magazine’s 2021 people of the year and one of Time’s most influential people. Are you comfortable with all this or is it all very surreal?

DP: Well, it’s all a great compliment and honour any time I get honoured for anything. But I don’t take it for granted, and I always say, “I count my blessings more than I count my money or my awards.” It’s always nice and you just hope that they don’t put you so high on a pedestal that they have to knock you off one of these days. I don’t think I’m all that, but I appreciate the accolades and I work hard. 

RC: And what can we look forward to in 2022?

JP: More books and more music. 


Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ Continues to Break Worldwide RecordsThe book also seems to have put a dent in the popularity of members of the Royal Family — including the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Prince Harry’s Memoir Breaks U.K. Sales Record On First Day of ReleaseThe publisher of the new memoir, 'Spare", says it had sold 400,000 copies so far across hardback, e-book and audio formats.

Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2022The former U.S. president’s 13 titles include Canadians Emily St. John Mandel and Kate Beaton, as well as tomes from Michelle Obama, George Saunders and Jennifer Egan

Here are the 5 Books on Bill Gates’ Holiday Reading ListThe billionaire philanthropist is giving hundreds of copies to little libraries around the world

Sheila Heti and Eli Baxter Among 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award WinnersToronto writer Sheila Heti took home the fiction award for 'Pure Colour,' a novel the GG peer assessment committee called "a work of genius."

Suzette Mayr Wins $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for ‘The Sleeping Car Porter’The 2022 Giller Prize jury called Mayr's novel "alive and immediate — and eerily contemporary."

Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards: Authors Nicholas Herring, Dan Werb Nab Top PrizesThe Writers' Trust of Canada awards amounted to a combined monetary prize value of $270,000.

Bob Dylan Releases ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song,’ a Book of Essays Dissecting 66 Influential SongsIn his new book, Bob Dylan offers up both critique and historical insight into various musical recordings of the last century by a variety of popular artists.

Prince Harry’s Memoir ‘Spare’ Will Be Published in January 2023The long-awaited memoir will tell with "raw unflinching honesty" Prince Harry's journey from "trauma to healing", his publisher said on Thursday.

Sri Lankan Author Shehan Karunatilaka Wins 2022 Booker PrizeKarunatilaka won the prestigious prize on Monday for his second novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’, about a dead war photographer on a mission in the afterlife.

Canadian Council for the Arts Reveals Governor General’s Literary Awards FinalistsThe finalists for the Governor General's Literary Awards spotlight books in both the English and French language, as well as translated works.

New Penguin Random House Award Named After Michelle Obama Will Honour High School WritersMichelle Obama Award for Memoir will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a graduating public school senior based on their autobiographical submission.

French Author Annie Ernaux, 82, Becomes First French Woman to Win Nobel Prize for LiteratureThe author said, of winning, that "I was very surprised ... I never thought it would be on my landscape as a writer."

Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.

Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'

Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.

Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.

Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature

Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.

Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.

Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.

Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”

Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956

Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."

The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.

American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history

Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."

New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.

Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.

Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."

European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."

Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.

Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.

Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.

Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro

“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.

Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories

Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel

South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 

Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards

Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde

Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 

Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations

Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


Sign Up for the Weekly Book Club Newsletter