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Is there anything Dolly Parton can’t do?

The country music icon, now 75, has announced she’s teamed up with bestselling author James Patterson to write her first novel. Sean O’Grady takes a look back at the remarkable career of the musician, superstar, businesswoman, and now novelist

Monday 16 August 2021 15:53
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<p>Dolly Parton: ‘I ain’t got time to be old’ </p>

Dolly Parton: ‘I ain’t got time to be old’

In a television interview with Barbara Walters in 1977 – one legend in conversation with another, you might add – Dolly Parton explained why she spent 300 days a year on the road with her crew on her custom-built tour bus: “I love to go home, but if I’m home more than two weeks straight I get restless and bored and I wanna get back on the bus.” Now that she’s turned 75, Parton doesn’t tour quite so much, but that same restless energy remains, and she still wants to get out there, do new things, make a difference.

She’s recently been lauded for donating $1m of her considerable fortune to help fund the Moderna vaccine (her high-profile support also helping to boost acceptance of the jab among reluctant southerners), and now she’s writing a novel. Or co-writing one, more accurately, with James Patterson, a bestselling writer whose second-most-showbiz collaborator is Bill Clinton. It’ll be published by Penguin Random House next March. Dolly is still on the showbiz bus.

They say you should only write (or co-write) about things you know, and it seems Parton has taken the old adage seriously for her literary debut. Run, Rose, Run is the story of a young girl who goes to Nashville to pursue her dreams, and we can expect much that reflects Parton’s own struggles in life. Always restlessly innovative too, Parton will simultaneously release an album of songs to go with the book – which is more than Clinton managed. As Patterson says: “The mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa. It’s a really unique experience.” And all very new and exciting for his co-author, too; as Parton herself says, in a characteristically folksy, cheeky quip: “I ain’t got time to be old.”

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