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Best-selling author to meet fans in Norcross

Special photo. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry will give a discussion
and sign copies of his latest book, "The Paris Vendetta," on Saturday in Norcross.

Special photo. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry will give a discussion and sign copies of his latest book, "The Paris Vendetta," on Saturday in Norcross.

NORCROSS -- New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry could be a poster child for the saying "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

After 85 submissions to New York publishers over a span of 12 years, his 86th try finally paid off when Ballantine Books picked up "The Amber Room," his debut novel, in 2002.

The Atlanta native said if not for the insistence of a voice only he can hear, one of three times he quit during those years would have stuck.

"It may not sound believable," he said, "but that's exactly what keeps you going, that little voice in your head. It's what drives you forward."

That voice still speaks to Berry and has continued to drive his career as a writer. After publishing six books while still working full time as an attorney, Berry left his practice about a year ago and now writes full time.

"It got to a point where I couldn't do it anymore and I just had to choose, which one did I want to do, and of course, there was no choice," he said. "I had to write."

Berry's latest book, "The Paris Vendetta," follows a character who was invented one afternoon in 2002, the same year Ballantine bought "The Amber Room," when Berry was sitting in a cafe in Copenhagen, Denmark, while on vacation. When he returned home, Berry began to write his story, and former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone had made the jump from Berry's imagination to the pages of "The Templar Legacy" four years later.

Cotton Malone is still jet-setting through the pages of Berry's books trying to stay a step ahead in games of intrigue and conspiracy.

"There's a lot of me in Cotton (and) I did that on purpose," Berry said. "I was hoping I was going to spend a lot of time with him so I put a lot of me in him."

Gwinnett residents can spend some time with the man behind the character of Cotton Malone during a meet-the-author event Saturday sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library. Berry will give a discussion on "The Paris Vendetta" and then field questions from attendees, with a signing to follow.

"I like to meet everybody," Berry said. "I like to see everybody and I like to interact with them. That's why I go out and do the events, so I can see what's on people's minds."