The Truth About Dolly Parton's Relationship With Author James Patterson

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Over the course of her hugely successful career, country music legend Dolly Parton has written thousands of songs and won ten Grammys (not to mention she's received a total of 51 nominations). Another giant in his field, author James Patterson had "written 322 books [which] sold some 425 million copies"  as of August 2021, per the New York Times. Together, this makes Parton and Patterson two of the most popular storytellers in recent pop culture history. And in 2021, the two powerhouses joined forces, surprising fans by announcing they would be collaborating on a book together.

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Their novel, "Run, Rose, Run" was released in March, and tells the story of "a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run," according to Patterson's official website. In tandem, Parton dropped a 12-track album (also named "Run, Rose, Run") that was inspired by the story. Despite its "silly plot," the book has thus far been positively received, and reached no. 1 on Amazon's Best Seller list, per Fox 8. According to Billboard, the novel's accompanying album also debuted on the Top 10 Country Albums chart. Clearly, Patterson and Parton's collaboration has been a success so far, but what originally brought this unlikely pair together in the first place?

Dolly Parton and James Patterson have more in common than you think

Though this might be Dolly Parton and James Patterson's first time working together, the duo have long admired each other. In December 2020, Parton told the New York Times that she counted Patterson as one of her dream literary dinner guests. Likewise, Patterson had a newfound respect for Parton after watching a documentary about the singer that made him realize their commonalities, per Shereads. "We're both million-to-one-against-us shots," the author told Tennessean. As a result, Patterson felt the country music icon would be the perfect person to give him insight into the music industry and help develop the "Run, Rose, Run" characters. He consequently reached out to Parton's team for her contact info, and she agreed to a meeting. As Patterson later noted to the New York Times, their first face-to-face was "casual," with "no agents [or] lawyers."

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Following that, the pair kept in close touch for the next few months with ideas and suggestions for their developing story. While Parton helped Patterson with the book's musical accuracies, she worked primarily on "Run, Rose, Run's" accompany album. "[James] wrote a lot and then I would read what he was writing, then I would write songs," she told Entertainment Weekly. "James had not heard the music or the melody or the production; he just knew only the lyrics that I would send back and forth, and he'd incorporate the lyrics into the book."

Dolly Parton and James Patterson have become lifelong friends

As James Patterson previously realized before reaching out to Dolly Parton, the duo had a surprising amount in common — but he found out just *how* alike they were once he got to know the country music icon. "For her to come from the hills of Tennessee — with all the talent she had — but still to make it, the odds were huge that she wouldn't. When I first came from upstate New York to New York [City], same thing: No way am I going to get to be a best-selling author," Patterson told the Tennessean. And, as he shared with Entertainment Weekly, he'd spent some time in Nashville while attending Vanderbilt University, so both he and Parton have some Nashville roots. 

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It didn't take long for the two storytellers to become fast friends, or "old" friends, as Parton joked to Entertainment Weekly. "They say you can't make old friends, but I believe in this case you can," she clarified. The pair also sat down together for an Amazon Live interview in March 2022, in which they shared some fun details about their newfound friendship. "The nicest thing about the whole thing is the friendship," Patterson said. "For my birthday, Dolly sang happy birthday to me over the telephone. How do you beat that?" Parton added that the author "feels like someone I've known all my life."

Do James Patterson and Dolly Parton plan to collaborate again?

Due to the success of "Run, Rose, Run," fans are no doubt curious to know whether Dolly Parton and James Patterson will collaborate again. According to an Amazon Live interview, the pair are already planning to work together on the film adaptation of "Run, Rose, Run." That said, "Whether or not we work together or not [in the future], we've really become good friends," Parton told the interviewer, adding that she hopes she and Patterson can continue to spend time together. Unfortunately for any Patterson fans and book enthusiasts, Parton and Patterson have been noncommittal about their plans to co-author another book, at least as of this writing. It seems that "Run, Rose, Run's" movie adaptation — which Patterson believes will be announced soon — will take up the bulk of their time. 

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According to the Tennessean, "about 70 studios, production companies or individuals [have] inquired about the adaptation," so there's clearly no shortage of interest. As for Parton, she told Shereads that she hopes to play RuthAnne from the novel, so it sounds like fans have a lot to look forward to in the meantime.

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