An interview with Nelson DeMille, recorded by Talk City Network; reproduced
by the permission of the publisher, Warner Books.
Time Warner Trade Publishing and Talk City Network are proud to present our
special guest for tonight, Nelson DeMille.
Thank you, Nelson, for joining us today in Talk City!
Nelson DeMille: Good to be here.
TWBookmark says: What were you like as a boy? Hobbies, interests?
Nelson DeMille: I was very athletic, and played football, wrestling, and ran
track in high school. My interests were girls. :-)
sushilvr-guest says: What techniques do you use as a writer to develop
such a sense of suspense in your novels?
Nelson DeMille: Well, I use the cliff hanger technique. I try to end every
chapter with an air of suspense. I try to leave the reader wanting to turn the
page. I try to use short sentences, short paragraphs and short chapters to keep
the reader's interest.
pattyann10 says: I have enjoyed reading your books and find them
unforgettable. I noticed that The Lion's Game is doing very well in the
bestseller charts. Would you care to comment on that? Also, which book has done
the best on the best seller lists? Do you feel that the competition in this
regard is increasing?
Nelson DeMille: The Lion's Game is doing very well. It's number 5 this
week on the New York Times bestseller list. If it wasn't for Harry
Potter, it would be number 3. There is a lot of competition, but most of the
competition is in the fall and the spring. My only real competition for this
month has been John Grisham. So far, my last book, Plum Island, has
been the best on the bestseller lists, with 22 weeks on the hardcover best
seller list. I think The Lion's Game might match that.
Jester says: Where do you research information for your books? Your
attention to detail in them is amazing -- I feel like I am right inside St.
Pat's or the Charm School without being bogged down by dry descriptions!
Nelson DeMille: I do three kinds of research. Library research, which includes
online--interviews with people in the professions that I am representing in the
book--and field research, meaning going to the locations where the book is set.
For instance, I spent a month in Moscow to research.
Effie says: Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write The
Lion's Game? Is the story something you thought up right away, or did you
cultivate it over time?
Nelson DeMille: The Lion's Game was probably written to bring John
Corey back from Plum Island, partly because of my fascination with international
terrorism. I hinted at this in Plum Island.
Jester says: Hi! I just finished your book and LOVED it! Is there any
chance we will see future books with John Corey as the lead?
Nelson DeMille: First of all, thank you. There may be one more John Corey book,
but not the next one, which features Paul Brenner from The General's
Martin says: Not a lot of writers are as prolific as you. You are the
author of over a dozen novels, and I'm sure there are more on the way. Do you
find it difficult to come up with ideas for your books? If not, how do you
continue to do it?
Nelson DeMille: I'm actually not that prolific, having written 11 novels since
1978, as opposed to writers who write one a year. Ideas are harder to come by,
especially with the end of the Cold War and with so many other authors exploring
so many subjects.
Hunter says: Do you remember the first story you wrote? Where have you
hidden it? *grin*
Nelson DeMille: (laughing) The first story I ever wrote was in the 6th grade,
and it was about the French Foreign Legion. I probably lost it. I got an A for
Jester says: I noticed in your book, The Lion's Game, there
were a few subtle references to other books you have done. Have you done this in
your other books, or was this a first for you?
Nelson DeMille: This was the first time I've ever made references to any of my
other books. I had fun doing it...and I'm glad so many people enjoyed it!
pattyann10 says: I understand you wrote under the name of Jack Cannon.
What type of books were these and why did you use another name?
Nelson DeMille: These were books written back in the early 1970s and they were
New York City police detective novels. They were a series. They were about a
homicide detective named Joe Ryker. I used the pen name because I knew I wanted
to write better novels under my own name someday. The first novel under my name
was By The Rivers of Babylon in 1978, and I have not used the pen name
krazykel says: Did your military background inspire some of your work?
Nelson DeMille: I was in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969. I was an infantry
officer with the 1st Cavalry Division. I have used some of my army experiences
in some of my novels, especially Word of Honor. Also in Spencerville.
Jester says: Have any of your books been made into movies? If so, are
they TV or big screen ones? I would love to see some of these if they have been!
Nelson DeMille: The General's Daughter was a feature film starring John
Travolta and Madeline Stowe. It was released in May of 1999. It is currently on
video, DVD, and Pay-Per-View in some locations.
shawksie says: Were you involved in the making of The General's
Daughter movie? If so, what was it like to be on the set?
Nelson DeMille: I was involved with the screenplay, but only to a small extent.
It was interesting to see some of the movie being shot in Charleston and
Shelf2Screen says: How pleased were you with the way Hollywood handled The
Nelson DeMille: I thought that Paramount Motion Pictures did a good job with the
movie. They followed the storyline. Also, the acting was very good. The
cinematography was excellent, and the movie was very successful at the box
office. My only objection was the Hollywood ending.
Jester says: Can we expect to see a future novel with the Internet being
a central focus?
Nelson DeMille: (laughing) Probably not. I think someone with more technical
background could probably work it into a good murder mystery or a book of
espionage. But, I have no plans at the moment to use the Internet as the main
subject of a novel, although the Internet plays an important part in The
Jester says: Do you get to travel extensively for research when writing
Nelson DeMille: Some of my books call for a lot of traveling. With The
Lion's Game I traveled all over the country for the locales. For Plum
Island I went out to the real Plum Island. For Cathedral I went to
Belfast, Ireland. For my next novel, which is set in contemporary Vietnam, I
plan to go to Vietnam.
CCCharisma says: Most of your books seemed to have heavy references to
the Cold War days. Were you a spy during the Cold War, and if so, for what side?
Nelson DeMille: LOL No, I was trained in Army Intelligence, but spent most of my
army career in the infantry. But like many people of my generation, I was very
much caught up in the Cold War, and books and movies about espionage.
TheLoser4Life says: Are you currently working on any new books? If so,
can you talk about it a little?
Nelson DeMille: I'm currently bringing back the character of Paul Brenner from The
General's Daughter. Brenner, who is a Vietnam veteran and currently a
member of the Army Criminal Investigation Division, is asked to return to
Vietnam to investigate a murder that took place during the war 30 years before.
Donna says: Was The Lion's Game finished as a cliffhanger or
left open for sequel possibilities?
Nelson DeMille: There is a possibility of a sequel, although I left the ending
open because I didn't want a stock formula ending.
Want2SeeMore says: How long does it typically take you to put out a
book, from concept to bookshelf?
Nelson DeMille: My books have averaged about 2 years, but this last one, The
Lion's Game, has been two and a half years since Plum Island. My
next novel should be out in the middle of next year.
BookClub says: Hi! We have read two of your books in our Talk City Book
Club so far. (The General's Daughter and Plum Island.) Your
books were very well received! Do you have any recommendations for another book
for our group?
Nelson DeMille: Thank you for reading my novels. I would highly recommend The
Gold Coast, which is a more serious novel that was well received by all the
critics. It is still available in paperback. My second recommendation would be The
Charm School. A lot of book clubs have read it.
FutureHitz says: Which of your books would you like to see made into a
Nelson DeMille:The Gold Coast, which is currently being developed by
Castle Rock. We may begin shooting as early as this summer. Also, Word of
Honor is being developed by Dino DiLaurentiis. The Lion's Game and
Plum Island have just been purchased by Columbia Motion Pictures.
Donna says: Who are some of your favorite authors? Is there anyone in
particular you draw inspiration from?
Nelson DeMille: Ernest Hemingway was the author I drew inspiration from. I also
like to read Truman Capote and Graham Greene. Conan Doyle is another...so is Tom
Wolfe and John Steinbeck.
pattyann10 says: Are your manuscripts open for public view at a library
somewhere? I would love to see them. Do you type or handwrite your manuscripts?
Nelson DeMille: Yes, I do write my manuscripts by hand, in pencil on legal pads.
Then they are typed on a word processor by my typist. Most of them are available
at the Muger Memorial Library at Boston University. My archives are kept there.
BookzFan says: Do you ever use friends or people you know as models for
some of the characters in your books?
Nelson DeMille: No, I never use anyone as a sole model for any of my characters.
But I sometimes use some personality traits to fashion part of a character. Most
of my characters are composites of either people I know or people in the public
Kujira says: What do you do in your spare time, and who is your fave
Nelson DeMille: I do a lot of traveling, mostly to Europe...sometimes the
Caribbean, and occasionally to Asia. My two favorite contemporary authors are
Tom Clancy and Stephen King.
GeneralsDaughter says: With your next book, where you bring back
Brenner, will this be a prequel or a sequel? I know in the movie The
General's Daughter, Paul talks to the General about having met him before.
Nelson DeMille: The next book does feature Paul Brenner, and it will take place
after the events of The General's Daughter. Brenner returns to Vietnam,
but this is not exactly a sequel. to The General's Daughter.
Rob says: When the USSR collapsed, many thought there goes the spy game.
Would you agree that we have plenty of petty despots and hot spots in the world
to keep espionage (and spy thrillers) going?
Nelson DeMille: I think it's more difficult now to write a spy thriller with the
collapse of the Soviet Union. Many authors have tried, but few have succeeded in
capturing the interest of readers. It's much different today than it was during
the Cold War. The CIA is not the subject of many books anymore. But that might
change, because of international terrorism and Red China.
marine2u-guest says: Will the prospect of industrial espionage provide
as much fodder as the Cold War?
Nelson DeMille: No, this has also been tried in various books, including Michael
Crichton's Rising Sun, but the subject doesn't seem to interest most
readers. They couldn't care less about industrial espionage.
CareyFan says: If either Plum Island or The Lion's Game
go to the big screen, who would be your ideal pick to play him? (Don't
worry...we won't hold you to your picks!)
Nelson DeMille: I think the John Corey character reminds me of Bruce Willis,
although I have heard it rumored that George Clooney may be interested in
playing the Corey character. I think Mickey Rourke might also be good for the
Jeffrey says: Have you ever written in or considered a different genre?
Or are you satisfied with what you know best?
Nelson DeMille: The Gold Coast was much different from my other novels.
It's a book of social satire and manners and mores; it's also a love story.
Theodora says: Some writers tell us that a story has to 'age'--that
sometimes, they may put an unworkable story in a drawer until something links
with it, sometimes years later. Have you experienced this?
Nelson DeMille: No, I haven't. Most of my books are about contemporary subjects,
and the world changes so fast that I'm lucky when events haven't overtaken the
book I'm writing at the moment. For instance, The Charm School was
published in hard cover less than a year before the Cold War ended, and the
paperback came out after the Berlin Wall came down.
guest-Brulee says: Do you plan to do a reading/signing in the Boston
Nelson DeMille: Boston is not on my tour schedule, but if I do it will be late
March and it will be announced on the Warner Books website.
Vonda says: Are you currently on tour for The Lion's Game?
Where are you appearing next?
Nelson DeMille: I am currently on tour, yes! And I've been to Philadelphia, four
Florida cities, Dallas, Denver, L.A., San Francisco, San Diego, Portland,
Oregon, and I'm currently in Seattle. In Seattle, I'm appearing at Third Place
Ron-Guest says: Ok, pop quiz! You are going to a deserted island, and
can only bring 5 books. What would they be? Nelson DeMille: I would
bring George Orwell's 1984, The Complete Works of Arthur Conan
Doyle, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Graham Greene's The
End of the Affair, and an Army Survivor's Manual! If I was with a woman,
I'd bring a book of Elizabeth Barrett Browning poetry.
TWBookmark says: Our time is up for today, Nelson. Thanks so much for
being with us. Any final thoughts for our audience? Nelson DeMille: I
thank everyone for their questions. They were thought-provoking and original! I
hope everyone enjoys The Lion's Game. Thank you.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher.
This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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