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PDF Print E-mail Written by Oline Cogdill lee_patrick
Patrick Lee’s four paperback originals melded adventure with a bit of science fiction. Lee now makes his hard-cover debut with Runner, which should put him in the same leagues as Tom Clancy and Robin Cook

In Runner, former Delta Sam Dryden is drawn out of his secluded life to help a 12-year-old girl who is in danger.  Lee deftly weaves in technology, medical science, and government conspiracies in a tight plot.

We caught up with Lee, left, before the launch of Runner.

Q: What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I was well on my way to a degree in public relations when I sold my first screenplay, and... fifteen years later I'm still exactly that close to that degree.  I sold another script a few years later, and switched to writing books around the time I turned thirty.  In hindsight, I'm still very happy with all these decisions. 

Q: What kind of research do you do for your plots?
I tend to remember the things that interest me most, and those serve as a kind of already-done research for the technical stuff in my books.  Then I use Wikipedia (and whatever sources are linked to from there) to learn more of the specifics.

Q: Why the fascination with mixing action adventure with a bit of science fiction as you do in Runner?
I love writing stories in which a few elements are strange, and everything else is as realistic as possible.  It's fun to be able to ask yourself, “What would really happen if this other thing were going on?”  I think the premise of the first three books (a trilogy about alien technology showing up on Earth) was inherently pretty sci-fi, which I liked, and the books in the new series will revolve around strange things that are a little less tied to any one genre. 

Q: Runner has been optioned by Warner Bros. Who do you see playing Sam Dryden?
If I could pick anyone, I'd cast Matt Damon.  Of all the things an actor can prioritize, my favorite is realism, and that seems to be what he's going for in every role.

Q: When not writing, what do you do?
Stress out and tell myself I should be writing.  I do manage to unwind from it, though.  I'm a pretty big movie buff, and of course I read a lot.

Q: Why are you a writer?
Short answer: lack of any other marketable skill.  The longer answer is that it's something I loved doing as a kid, and I never really left it.  It's uncanny how similar the writing process is, even now, to what I did when I was ten.  The same hours of being stuck on some turn of the story, the same sudden break in the ice jam when you figure out what was wrong.  The process just gets more refined when you have a few more decades' worth of life experience to call upon. 

Q: Do you still write screenplays?
Since switching to books, I haven't done any work on scripts.  I've really found the writing process with books to be a lot more immersive and rewarding, on a day-in-day-out basis.  At the best times, writing a book feels almost like living out the events in it.  I never quite got that feeling from screenwriting, but I imagine some screenwriters do.  I'm sure it's a matter of finding what fits you.

Q: How old were you when you decided you wanted to write?
I think the drive to write goes back about as far as I can remember—age six or seven.  I remember always being really happy, in school, when the class was assigned to do any kind of creative writing.  Everyone else would be groaning about it.

Q: Who do you read?
I'm a huge fan of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, and Michael Crichton, to name just a few.

Q: If you were not a writer, what occupation would you go into?
The question all writers ask themselves when a book is going badly.  Assuming (perhaps generously) that I'd be any good at it, I think astronomy would be an amazing field to work in.

Q: Tell us something that readers don’t know about you
I'm a politics junkie. Washington Journal on C-Span is seriously one of my favorite TV shows.

Q: Any thoughts as Runner hits the bookstores and reading devices?
Every step in the process leading up to the launch has been like a whirlwind.  Everyone working on this at St. Martin's has been amazing, and I can't thank them enough.


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