James Patterson concludes his Crichton passion project

Leisha Chi-Santorelli,BBC News, @BBCLeisha

Penguin Random House James Patterson is one of the world's best-selling authorsRandom house penguin

James Patterson is one of the world’s best-selling authors

Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton passed away from cancer more than 15 years ago — now his unfinished “passion project,” about a volcanic eruption that threatens humanity, has been completed. was created by literary giant James Patterson and is attracting intense interest in Hollywood.

The eruption takes readers on a thrilling journey through Hawaii’s largest island, which, unknown to its residents, harbors dangerous military secrets dating back decades.

There has been no official on-screen auction yet – but Sherri Crichton, who discovered her late husband’s unfinished manuscript more than a decade ago and took control of his estate, told BBC News that she is currently in talks with Steven Spielberg about the possibility of adapting the film for the big screen.

Crichton’s previous works, such as Twister, Westworld and ER, have sold for huge sums, making him one of the world’s most successful writers of books, films and television – even when dead.

“We had an incredible amount of interest,” Patterson told me in a joint interview with Sherri, “including about five stars who raised their hands, a lot of filmmakers, studios.

“When Jurassic Park came out, Michael and Steven Spielberg found a way to elevate the genre – and it was quite wonderful and different – ​​and I think that’s what we hope to do with this movie.

“We always have partners in mind where the spirit of this is not just about making another disaster movie.”

Penguin Random House Front cover of Eruption by Michael Crichton and James PattersonRandom house penguin

Jurassic Park, Spielberg’s highest-grossing film, is now a global franchise worth more than $6 billion.

“We went back to Steven,” Sherri said.

“The magic here is that they’ve introduced things, like what Jim is talking about, that have never been put on film before – and that’s worth it.

“We needed this height where you really get sucked into the ride like you did with Jurassic.

“This is also the kind of heart-pounding, chilling experience – and working with the right team is everything.”

Sherri knew Patterson, the world’s most famous horror writer, who had read all of Crichton’s novels, was the one she wanted. And after being sent the unfinished manuscript, the 77-year-old signed on to complete it.

Sherri Crichton Michael Crichton took photos at the rim of the volcanoSherri Crichton

Michael Crichton was fascinated by volcanoes and collected a wide range of scientific research

“I knew I was in Jim’s hands,” she said.

“Together they are like a perfect duet on the page.

“It’s so exciting – and I find myself sitting and waiting, [thinking,] ‘When will I start receiving chapters?'”

They were subjected to a series of “meticulously organized” scientific studies, some of which were so dense that Patterson had to hire a researcher in Alaska to help.

James Patterson James Patterson in his officeJames Patterson

Prolific Patterson still uses a fax machine to send handwritten pages

“It has a very unusual dual storyline and they merge together,” Patterson said.

“I find that irresistible as a storyteller.

“I joked with Sherri and said, ‘Wow, now that I’ve read this much, I have to find out how the heck it ends’.”

And in less than a year, this “unprecedented literary collaboration” was completed.

“I really enjoy these,” Patterson said.

“I’m a ridiculous seven-day-a-week worker.”

High-end cooperation

Patterson has sold more than 400 million books worldwide.

Popular titles include Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls and the Alex Cross series, which Amazon Prime Video is adapting for television.

In the UK, Patterson is currently outselling only Richard Osman and Colleen Hoover.

He is also the most borrowed author in British libraries, according to publisher Penguin Random House.

Eruption, originally titled The Black Zone and Vulcan, was Patterson’s first attempt at posthumous publishing – but he was familiar with high-profile collaborations, having written the autobiographies of Bill Clinton and Dolly Parton.

“I challenge any reader to decide where Michael stops and I begin,” he said.

“It’s not the easiest thing in the world to make it seamless.”

Sherri Crichton Sherri and Michael Crichton on the Amalfi Coast in August 2007Sherri Crichton

Sherri shared never-before-seen personal photos, like this vacation snapshot from the Amalfi Coast in 2007, and opened up about Crichton’s creative process

Sherri rarely speaks publicly about her late husband.

She was pregnant with their son John Michael when he died in 2008, at the age of 66.

As CEO of CrichtonSun, Crichton’s publishing and property division, Sherri has worked hard to protect his legacy.

And at their home in Santa Monica, California, she kept his writing desk intact for more than a decade.

Feel closer

Along with framed awards and movie memorabilia, there are special photos of Crichton and Spielberg together.

All of his original handwritten notes have also been carefully preserved, including the first drafts of the Jurassic Park books and movies.

Patterson felt pressure to do a good job on Eruption, because of the emotions attached to the project, from Sherri and her son, who loved the novel.

There’s enough material for a sequel – or even a trilogy – but neither Patterson nor Sherri have committed to it yet.

Meanwhile, the completion of Eruption has made Sherri and her son feel closer to Crichton, despite their remaining pain.

Sherri Crichton Hawaii is a special place for the Crichton family and helped inspire Jurassic ParkSherri Crichton

“It was his passion project and focused on the place that inspired him the most, Hawaii.”

She said: “It gradually calmed down over the years – but it was still very emotional.

“I found a part of Michael.

“I fell in love with him for his warmth and vulnerability as well as his playfulness, fun and genius.

“I loved him for all the obvious reasons – and we built our family together.”

She stopped.

“Reviewing his paperwork is essential to staying connected with him.

“I need to find a way to answer some questions that I don’t know how to teach my son about him.

“I don’t want to read it in a book.

“I don’t want to just take it from what people say about their experiences of Michael.

“I need to know that — and I need to be able to witness that and feel that — and what happens in that process actually makes love deeper.”

Eruption, by James Patterson and Michael Crichton, is published in hardback by Century on Thursday, June 6 (Recommended retail price: £22).


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