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James Patterson: 'A nation of please-and-thank-you kids would be very useful right now'

  • Megaselling author James Patterson has just released a new picture book for kids called Give Thank You a Try.
  • The book is a sequel to its 2016 predecessor, Give Please A Chance, co-written by former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly.
  • While Patterson has expanded into young adult and children's books, the bulk of the 350 million books he's sold worldwide are detective novels and thrillers.

He's popular and prolific, and he thinks kids should be more polite.

Megaselling author James Patterson tells CNBC's On The Money, "I think a nation of 'please-and-thank-you kids' would be very useful right now."

Patterson has released a new picture book for kids called Give Thank You a Try.

"It's the way I was brought up. I think it's nice. I think it's good if kids recognize when they're get something that there's someone on the other side of the equation. And they can say thanks."

The book is a sequel to its predecessor, Give Please A Chance, released in November 2016 and co-written by former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly. After news of multiple sexual harassment settlements surfaced, O'Reilly was fired in April by the cable network.

Patterson was asked if, in hindsight, he regretted the pairing.

"There's speed bumps in life," Patterson told CNBC. "Obviously, he appears to have hit a big speed bump."

"I think it's good if kids recognize when they're get something that there's someone on the other side of the equation. And they can say thanks." -James Patterson, best-selling author

"When it came time to do the second book, originally we were thinking of maybe doing it together," Patterson recalled.

"Then he called up and said, 'I don't know that it would be a good idea for me to be on there (as co-author). Which was nice of him to do, and so we didn't do this book together."

Earlier this fall, Patterson published another collaboration.

"I did one with my wife recently — Big Words for Little Geniuses."

Patterson says Big Words for Little Geniuses became a New York Times bestseller, "which is very cool, and now she's the big author in our house."

Author James Patterson.
Bonnie Jo Mount | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Author James Patterson.

While Patterson has expanded into the world of young adult and children's books, the bulk of the more than 350 million books he's sold worldwide are his detective novels and thrillers.

One of his most enduring characters is the Washington, D.C.- based fictional detective Alex Cross.

"Poor Alex is on trial for murder," says Patterson, referring to the plot in his newly released, 25th book in that series, The People vs. Alex Cross.

In 1993 Patterson published Along Came A Spider, his first book featuring that character. Initially, he thought it would be just one book, but the publisher said he wanted a two-book deal, the author tells CNBC, so he went on to write Kiss The Girls.

"At that point, I was hooked on Alex. I wanted to write more stories."

After 25 years Patterson says he's not done. How many future Alex Cross books are ahead?

"I would say another 50 or so."

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturday at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.

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