About the Authors

JAMES PATTERSON is one of the best-known and biggest selling writers of all time. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past decade: the Women’s Murder Club, the Alex Cross novels and Maximum Ride, and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand alone thrillers. He has won an Edgar award, the mystery world’s highest honour. He lives in Florida with his wife and son.

MICHAEL LEDWIDGE is a novelist who has coauthored two number one bestsellers with James Patterson. He lives in New York City.

James Patterson has taken a few minutes away from his writing to tell us some more about The Dangerous Days of Daniel X.

Can you tell us a little about The Dangerous Days of Daniel X?

Daniel X, I love as a series. It starts out in a little farmhouse and this kid is like three years old and he’s playing with a tic, a little bug, on the floor. You know there is something weird about this kid because he knows the entire biological make-up of this creature. Then you hear this explosion in the house and you know something bad is going to happen. This seven-foot tall, very scary alien walks down the stairs. But this three-year-old kid has powers and he turns himself into the tic and escapes in the hair of the alien. And that’s just in the first pages of the prologue.

The amazing thing about Daniel is that he has what I think is the super power of all super powers: he can create. In the first chapter, he is fifteen, he has grown up, he has inherited the job from his father to hunt aliens – you may not know this, but there have been aliens on the earth for millions of years. He has just hunted down an alien in the city and he hears noise outside and it is truant officers: people who come after kids who don’t go to school and the neighbours have been complaining because he’s out to all hours of the night and stuff. So he opens the doors to the truant officers and what happens then is every kid’s dream: he brings in his parents and says ‘Well talk to them, I’m not a truant,’ and his parents talk to these truant officers in a very irreverent way to the point where they just leave the room, leave the house and then Daniel disappears his parents: he created his parents just to deal with these truant officers. The book is full of these very imaginative uses that he makes of the powers that he has, especially this ability to create.

Where did the idea for Daniel X come from?

Oh man, where did the idea for Daniel X come from? I’ve had the idea for a long, long time but I just didn’t quite know what the story was going to be. This notion of a kid or a person who can create is just so irresistible to me. It’s just the ultimate story device; it’s just so cool for storytelling that somebody can create like this. It’s also about creativity, how do you solve problems? Usually you solve them with creativity so that’s really what underlies Daniel X.

Tell us more about the Daniel X series

The first full book is obviously published and what we are going to do next is a graphic novel of the second book and that has been illustrated by a fella in Sweden who’s wonderful. It looks great; it’s one of the best looking graphic novels I have ever seen. So the second story will be done in that form and then the third will be done in traditional book form again. The third one actually takes place in England, in London.

How do you write the books?

I tend to start with the idea and then I research it so for Daniel X I had to meet a lot of aliens and interview them and talk about what they are capable of doing. For Maximum Ride I actually had to fly.

Who is the ideal audience for your books?

Anybody who’s old enough to read a novel, but not so old they can’t see any longer . . . or have fooled themselves into thinking they don’t like page-turning thrillers.

How did you come to start writing books for young adults?

I guess I started writing books like this because I’ve never grown up; I don’t want to grow up. When I write a story, I pretend there is somebody sitting across from me and I tell them a story and I don’t want them to get up until I am finished. My theory about getting people to read is that the best way to do that is to give them books that they just can’t put down. The pages turn themselves

Where do you write the books?

I have an office in my house and it’s actually quite nice because it has a view of the Hudson River so it’s very beautiful and peaceful. Somebody said you are lucky if you find something you like to do as an adult and then it is a miracle if somebody will pay you to do it and that is what I have, I love what I do, I love telling stories. I look forward to getting up every morning to work, to tell stories.

How do you write?

Unfortunately I am a dinosaur; I write with a pencil, I do not use a computer. I write, I erase, I write some more. It’s kind of silly but it has worked for me and you know that old saying, ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.’

Who is the first person to read the books?

My son, Jack, is nine. He is a good reader and has read all the Maximum Ride books and he likes them very much (or I won’t feed him!) and he loves Daniel X. Usually he’ll say ‘It’s pretty good dad,’ but he really loves Daniel X, he gave it an A+.

Don’t forget to check out www.daniel-x.co.uk and www.jamespatterson.co.uk for all the latest news.

About the Book

Fifteen-year-old alien hunter Daniel X is on a mission to finish the job that killed his parents – to wipe out the world’s most bloodthirsty aliens on The List. At the number-one spot, The Prayer is Daniel’s ultimate target. With mind-blowing skills like telepathy and the ability to transform and create, Daniel’s got more than a few tricks up his sleeve.

But for now there are plenty of gruesome enemies in the way, including Ergent Seth at #6, Daniel’s fiercest contender yet. Seth is a horse-faced beast with a sinister agenda of his own: a plan to ruin Earth and a terrifying alien slave ship that will transport Daniel to a planet with more surprises than he could ever imagine.

Along with his friends Willy, Joe-Joe, Emma and Dana, Daniel hunts down the aliens on The List one by one. But as he battles towards his top target he can’t forget one thing: he’s got a host of aliens to fight, but on their lists there’s only one name at the top . . . and that’s his.

The first action-packed adventure in a new blockbuster series from James Patterson, the world’s bestselling thriller writer.

Also by James Patterson

The Women’s Murder Club series

1st to Die

2nd Chance (with Andrew Gross)

3rd Degree (with Andrew Gross)

4th of July (with Maxine Paetro)

The 5th Horseman (with Maxine Paetro)

The 6th Target (with Maxine Paetro)

7th Heaven (with Maxine Paetro)

Maximum Ride series

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Maximum Ride: School’s Out Forever

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and

Other Extreme Sports

The Final Warning

Alex Cross novels

Cat and Mouse

Pop Goes the Weasel

Roses are Red

Violets are Blue

Four Blind Mice

The Big Bad Wolf

London Bridges

Mary, Mary

Cross

Double Cross

Cross Country

(published November 2008)

Detective Michael Bennet series

Step on a Crack (with Michael Ledwidge)

Stand-alone thrillers

When the Cradle Blows

Cradle and All

Miracle on 17th Green

(with Peter de Jonge)

The Beach House

(with Peter de Jonge)

The Jester

(with Andrew Gross)

The Lake House

SantaKid

Honeymoon (with Howard Roughan)

Lifeguard (with Andrew Gross)

Beach Road (with Peter de Jonge)

Judge and Jury (with Andrew Gross)

The Quickie (with Michael Ledwidge)

You’ve Been Warned

(with Howard Roughan)

Sail (published June 2008)

Romance

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

Sam’s Letter’s for Jennifer

Sundays at Tiffany’s

Non-fiction

Against All Odds (with Hal and Cory

Friedman published September 2008)

One

I WISH THAT I didn’t sometimes, but I remember everything about that cursed, unspeakably unhappy night twelve years ago, when I was just three years old and both my parents were murdered.

I was taking an ordinary can of Play-Doh down from the playroom shelf when my mom called from the top of the basement stairs.

“Daniel? Dinner will be ready in five minutes. Time to start wrapping things up, honey.”

Finish? Already? I made a face. But my latest masterpiece isn’t done yet!

“Yes, Mom,” I called. “One minute. I’m making Play-Doh history down here.”

“Of course you are, dear. I would expect nothing less. Love you. Always.”

“Love you back, Mom. Always.”

In case you’ve already noticed that I didn’t speak like a typical three-year-old, well, you should have seen what I was building.

I stared at the museum-quality replica of the Lighthouse of Alexandria I was trying to finish.

Behind it, all the way to the edge of my worktable, stood matchless reproductions I’d made of the remaining Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The Mausoleum of Mausolus

The Colossus of Rhodes

I would have liked to do the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Chrysler Building as well, but I was only allowed one hour of playtime a day.

I squinted suddenly as I spotted what looked like a tiny, flat black seed climbing up the side of my miniature lighthouse, and really moving too.

Whoa there, little guy! Where do you think you’re motoring to?

It was an Arthropoda Arachnida Acari Metastigmata, I thought, recalling the phylum, class, order, and suborder of the tiny creature at a glance. A tick. A young male dog tick, to be exact.

“Hey, little fella,” I whispered to the tick. “You on a sightseeing tour?”

Two things happened next, almost simultaneously. Two very odd and unforgettable things.

There was a strange shimmering at the back of my bright, turquoise-blue eyes.

And the tick slowly rose onto its hind legs and said, “Hey, Daniel, my brother, you do real nice work. Cool lighthouse!

Two

I LAUGHED HYSTERICALLY as the lickety-split-quick tick crawled higher and higher on the lighthouse. Well, technically I was the one making it crawl, and tell jokes.

With my mind!

Yes, you heard that correctly. I was causing the tick to do tricks and also talk. It’s a talent I have. Long story. Good story, but not for right now. Something earth-shattering was about to happen at our house.

Anyway, I had the little fellow give a wave before it flipped forward and did a one-clawed handstand on the top of the lighthouse.

And at that exact, unforgettable instant, I suddenly flew back off the bench as a wall-shaking explosion detonated in the room above my head.

Something enormous had just crashed into the kitchen! Was it a freight train? A plane?

A sick feeling ripped through my stomach. Where was my mom?

“The List!” I now heard a deep, strangled voice roar from the kitchen above. “You think you can hide it from me! I know you have The List. And I want it! NOW!

I climbed to my feet, my mouth open, my eyes wide and locked onto the ceiling.

“Don’t hurt us! Please!” my mother sobbed. “Who are you? What list?”

“Wait, wait. Hold on,” I heard my father say. “Lower the gun, my friend. I’ll get The List for you. I have it nearby.”

“The List is here?” The deep voice loomed once again. “Right here? In this pathetic little hovel in Kansas, of all places?”

“Yes. Now if you’ll just lower the—”

I fell to the floor again as a string of deafening explosions drowned out my father’s voice. Shooting, I thought, my eyes clenched shut, my hands flying to my ears. An Opus 24/24, I realized with the same instantaneous knowledge that I’d had about the Arthropoda Arachnida Acari Metastigmata, the dog tick.

Then I heard my father call out, “We love you, Daniel. Always.

The clanging echo of the shots hung in the silence after the Opus finally stopped.

“Stay right there. Don’t get up, either of you. As if you could,” the stranger said with a nasty laugh. “I’ll go find The List myself.”

Mom? I thought, tears flooding down my cheeks. Dad?

Then another terrible thought entered my mind, and it was bright and urgent as a neon sign.

“The aliens are here,” I whispered, and reached up and clicked off the basement light. I prepared to be eaten, or maybe worse.

Three

I WAS TREMBLING and pressing my small, vulnerable body up against an old water heater, petrified about what might have just happened to my mom and dad, when a beam of violet-tinged light shone down the stairs into the basement.

And then I saw it—a six-and-a-half-foot-tall praying mantis. At least it had taken that terrible form tonight.

From behind the water heater, I stared in horror at the creature’s long, grossly bulging, plum-colored body, its small, almost shrunken head, its large, liquid-black eyes. What a foul beast! It had long, stringy red dreadlocks hanging down between its antennae, and a dull black metal assault rifle cradled in its sharply jointed arms.

“I know you’re down here, boy,” the xxl-sized insect said with a slow, horrifying roll of its stalklike neck. “I am called The Prayer, and there is very little that The Prayer does not know. If you come to me now, I may go easy on you. May. But I do hereby promise, cross my heart and hope to live forever, if you continue to make me play this silly game of hide-and-seek, you are going to learn the meaning of the word punishment.

This abomination, this beast that dared call itself The Prayer, proceeded to tear the basement apart, obviously looking for The List. Powered by its massive legs it suddenly leaped upstairs and trashed the rest of the house —screeching, “LIST! LIST! LIST! LIST!”

Then it was back in my playspace, looking for me, no doubt angrier and hungrier than ever.

The Prayer smiled eerily then, flashing jagged yellow, broken-bottle-shard teeth. It covered fifteen feet of room with a single hop.

“Game over, you pathetic little pukemeister. Maybe you know where The List is. Do you? DO YOU?

That’s when I realized that behind the thick wall of fear, my mind was actually trying to save me.

Of course, I thought. I had a plan, a shred of hope that could salvage my life.

The Prayer swung its evil-looking head around the side of the water heater.

And found absolutely nothing!

Four

THE REPUGNANT FREAK gasped with surprise and outrage. “What?” it screeched at the top of its voice range. “Not possible! I smelled you there a second ago!”

Well, technically I was still right there. I looked cross-eyed at my new beaklike hypostome as I scurried away on my eight new clawed legs. The answer to my immediate problem had been straightforward: all I needed to do was make myself less conspicuous to the murderous beast.

Do you follow what had just happened? The full significance of it? It’s important.

You see, my abilities didn’t stop at being able to make ticks talk and do tricks.

Now I was the tick. I had transformed myself.

Towering above me like a skyscraper, The Prayer opened its razor-sharp jaws and there was a bubbling-wet, sickening sound. Then a jet of jellylike blue flame shot from his mouth. The basement walls, carpet, and ceiling caught fire in the blink of my eyes.

“Take that, you little nothing! I flame-broil my meat. Like Burger King! And Beelzebub!”

Still in tiny tick form, I raced away from the smoke and scorching heat until I was crushed against the basement’s concrete foundation wall, which now seemed as big as a cliff to me.

I reached up tentatively with one of my claws. Some good news at last. My claw stuck to the concrete like superglue.

Next I was scampering up the wall behind The Prayer’s head. Then I jumped and landed smack-dab in the center of the alien’s greasy, dreadlocked hair.

I locked my hypostome down tight like a seat belt on a strand of his hair just as the homicidal Prayer jumped effortlessly to the top of the burning basement stairs again.

There I got a horrific, never-to-be-forgotten look at my mom and dad lying facedown on the kitchen floor. I knew they were dead and there was nothing I could do for them. I knew it in my heart and soul. I just couldn’t believe it yet, couldn’t accept it.

Then The Prayer smashed through the kitchen window and burst into the night.

“FAILURE! FAILURE! FAILURE!” it bellowed. “I hate failure! WHERE IS THE LIST?”

Something struck my head then, the end of a tree branch maybe, and I found myself flying through the cold air. The breath was knocked out of me, and I landed hard on the packed dirt floor of the woods behind our farmhouse.

I was a three-year-old boy again. Transformed. No longer a tick. I stood and turned back, and stared in disbelief and terror that could find no voice at that awful moment.

Already our house was a blazing shell of its former self. My mom and dad were dead and being incinerated inside. There was the sound of glass shattering as the upstairs window to my bedroom blew out with the heat.

Then, for a long time, there was the roar of the flames, and my soft, little-boy cries as I stood alone in the world for the first time, orphaned and homeless.

I recalled a song my mom used to sing to me: Star light, star bright. First star I see tonight. She and my dad loved the skies and the stars.

And I remember thinking, very clearly, as if I had suddenly grown up on that horrifying, unforgettable night: I know where The List is—my father has taken me to see it many times. Maybe for just this reason.

And I know what it is: The List of Alien Outlaws on Terra Firma.

And I know who I am: Daniel, son of Graff, son of Terfdron—the Alien Hunter.

No last name, just Daniel X.

I have to tell you one more thing about that night. I must get it out.

Even though I was only three years old, I am ashamed that I didn’t fight The Prayer to the death.

Chapter 1

TWELVE YEARS HAVE passed. I’m fifteen now. All grown up, sort of.

When I tell you that I’ve seen it all and done it all, I’m not lying or boasting—though sometimes I wish I were, and that I lived a normal life in some place like Peoria, Illinois, or Red Bank, New Jersey.

Since the death of my mom and dad, and in my years as an Alien Hunter—up to and including the present moment of extraordinary jeopardy—I’ve been kidnapped by faceless metallic humanoids. Twice.

I’ve been chased and caught by a shape shifting protoplasm in London who wanted to make me into a jelly sandwich, without the bread.

I have done hand-to-antennae combat with an entire civilization of insects in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and Acapulco.

I’ve had my face run over again and again—for days—by self-replicating machines that were about to take over Detroit. And wait—it gets worse.

A billion or so “little wailing mouths” connected by an electrical network to a single mind—I don’t know how else to describe them—ate and digested me in Hamburg, Germany.

I will not tell you how I got out of that one.

But this particular creature, currently right in my face, was really, really testing my limits, and my patience.

Chapter 2

ITS NAME WAS Orkng Jllfgna and it was Number 19 on The List of Alien Outlaws. I had caught up with it in Portland, Oregon, after a month-long search through Canada and the Pacific Northwest, with a near-miss capture attempt in Seattle.

More to the point, it was at the moment blocking my escape out of a disgusting sewage pipe underneath the fair city of Portland, somewhere, I believe, between the Rose Garden Arena and PGE Park.

Orkng was actually living in the sewer, and on this particular night, at around two o’clock, I had come on an extermination mission. I despised this kidnapper of the elderly and their pets (dog liver is a delicacy on its hideous home planet). I can best describe this alien freak as part man, part jellyfish, part chain saw.

“You’re very impressive and scary, Orkng—may I call you Orkng?” I asked.

“Is that your last wish?” The creature growled and then spun its immense buzz saw toward my eyes.

“Oh, I hope not. Say, I’ve read you have Level 4 strength. True or false?”

Orkng took out a quarter and bent it in half—with its eyelid!

“And you’re a shape-shifter too?” I pretended to marvel, or grovel, I guess you could call it.

Rather than a simple yes or no, Orkng changed itself into a kind of squid with a human face featuring a mouth with hundreds of teeth.

The entire changing process took about five seconds.

Interesting, I thought. Could be something to work with here.

“That’s it? That’s all you can do?” I asked the squid thing. “I came down into this sewer for that?”

“That’s nothing, you little chump.” Orkng snickered, frowned, and burped up something resembling a dozen oysters sans the half shells.

Once again, it began to change—only this time, I leaped right inside the confluence of shifting molecules and atoms and photons. How brave, or dumb, was that?

How creative?

Then I used my Level 3 strength for all it was worth. I punched and I kicked gaping holes into the still-unformulated creature. I fought as if my life depended on it—which it obviously did. Then I began shredding the murderous monster into tiny pieces with my hands.

It was terrible and gruesome and took hours to accomplish, and I hated every second of it, every shred.

But when the deed was done, I was able to cross Number 19 off my List, and I was one step closer to Number 1—The Prayer, who had killed my mom and dad.

All in a night’s work in the sewers of Portland.

Chapter 3

THE SUN WAS just coming up—well, the grayish-white smudge that passes for a sun in forever-overcast Portland—as I lumbered through my rental apartment’s front door and plopped down on the couch.

I crossed my muddy boots on the coffee table and yawned as I opened the morning’s Oregonian.

As exhausted as my body was, my mind was still wired about the night before. I jumped up and went to my computer. I pulled up The List of Alien Outlaws and checked to see who was naughty and had been recently exter minated. Yessiree, Number 19 was no longer on the boards!

This was, in fact, the same List that The Prayer had been trying to find that fateful day twelve years ago. When I was thirteen, I finally revisited the burnt-down farmhouse where my poor parents had been incinerated. After several days of searching, I found The List—buried under mud and rocks in the rather picturesque brook that ran behind the house.

they are out there, watching and studying us.