Booktalk: James Patterson By David Knight This week we spoke with New York Times best-selling author James Patterson, best known for thrillers featuring Washington, D.C., cop Alex Cross. two of those books -- "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came a Spider" -- have been made into movies starring Morgan Freeman. His latest, The Jester" (Little, Brown $27.95), co-written by Andrew Gross (2771), is a change of pace , however -- a medieval thriller. Q: Your new book takes place during the Crusades. Why the drastic change in time periods and settings, and how did you come up with the name for your main character? A: I was attracted to this idea of writing a historical novel from the perspective of a common man with a sense of humor for about a dozen years. The Crusades are an interesting time -- and especially topical now as we tumble into another war, which seems very similar. Regarding the origin of how I chose the name Hugh DeLoc, I can honestly say I have no idea. The name must have changed about 10 times, and that is the one that stuck to the wall. There is no real meaning to it other than it sounds good and rolls off the tongue. Q: Why did he become The Jester? A: In the beginning, the Crusades did not have any impact on most small villages. It was not initiated by the military but rather by the common people. Pope Urban had promised freedom to anyone who went on the crusade. So,for Hugh De Loc, the Jester, he enlists mainly for the promise of freedom for him and his family and to see the world. When he returns home from battle, he's horrified by the carnage. He soon discovers that his son has been killed and his wife, Sophie, abducted by a ruthless duke in search of a priceless relic. In order to infiltrate the court, where he believes she is held captive, this poor innkeeper now takes on the role of a jester and the battle to restore his life begins. This is a classic tale of good vs. evil and the search for love in the tradition of medieval times.