EXCLUSIVE: James Patterson and the late Michael Crichton are teaming on a novel, and now it has a title and pub date. The duo has combined global sales in excess of 675 million books, so we can expect a monster screen auction to erupt early next year.
Hachette Book Group’s Little, Brown and Company will release Eruption on Monday, June 3, with Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch calling it “one of the most spectacular meetings of minds in literary history.”
The novel is based on a partially finished manuscript by Crichton, who died in 2008. It was given to Patterson by Sherri Crichton, the author’s wife and CEO of CrichtonSun, the publishing/production company of Crichton’s estate. The subject: A once-in-a-century volcano eruption of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano threatens a secret cache of chemical weapons that can destroy not only the island but the world.
The last time Michael Crichton dropped a Hawaii-based thriller was Jurassic Park, which remains Steven Spielberg’s highest-grossing film and a series that has grossed globally in excess of $6 billion. Like Jurassic Park, Eruption is planned to be the first book in a series.
“I’ve read Michael Crichton’s thrillers avidly for decades and have always thought of him as one of the world’s best storytellers,” Patterson said. “I’m honored that Sherri Crichton has entrusted this extraordinary story to me and that I have the opportunity to bring Crichton’s brilliant idea to life. I’m particularly excited to be working on this wonderfully prescient novel about Mauna Loa in light of recent events. It’s as if Crichton could see into the future, and I’m eager to bring that vision to his readers and mine.”
Michael Crichton had been working on the book for years. “It was his passion project and centered in the place that inspired him the most, Hawaii,” Sherri Crichton said. “Michael had large volumes of scientific research, comprehensive notes, detailed outlines with extensive character bios and locations featured throughout the novel, as well as a number of interviews with volcanologists and it has been a privilege to work with James Patterson, the most successful author in the world to bring Michael’s original vision to life.”
The Crichton/Patterson deal was the first deal signed after CrichtonSun signed with Shane Salerno and The Story Factory. Salerno has worked closely with Sherri Crichton to re-imagine the company and to generate new adaptations of her late husband’s work in film, TV and publishing as well as to unveil new Michael Crichton titles the author was secretly working on prior to his death.
“It’s the publishing world’s version of when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg came together to create Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Salerno said of the Crichton and Patterson tandem. “I remember seeing that poster in theaters when I was nine years old. It read: From the creators of Jaws and Star Wars. This feels like a big event just like that did.”
The Story Factory (representing Crichton) and CAA (representing Patterson) will broker the screen right auction. Story Factory repped CrichtonSun in the book deal and Williams and Connolly’s Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell repped Patterson.