News & Views

Mug Shot: Nelson DeMille

Nelson DeMille is the best-selling author of thrillers that deal with terrorism, espionage, and crime. His books include By the Rivers of Babylon, Cathedral, The Talbot Odyssey, Word of Honor, The Charm School, The Gold Coast, The General's Daughter, Spencerville, Plum Island, The Lion's Game, Up Country, Night Fall, Wild Fire, The Gate House, The Lion, The Panther, The Quest, Radiant Angel, and, most recently, The Cuban Affair. He also co-authored Mayday with Thomas Block and has contributed short stories to anthologies as well as book reviews and articles to magazines and newspapers.

Tell us about your latest project.
My latest novel, The Cuban Affair, will be published this month by Simon & Schuster. This is my twentieth hardcover novel and features a new character, Daniel "Mac" MacCormick. Mac is a wounded and decorated Afghan War vet, born and raised in Maine but currently living in Key West, Florida, where he is the owner and skipper of a 42-foot charter fishing boat, named The Maine. Life would be good if he wasn’t in debt, and that problem could be solved by Carlos, a Cuban-American Miami lawyer who offers Mac two million dollars to charter The Maine for a fishing tournament to Cuba. Is there a catch? You bet. And it's not fish.

When and how do you find the time to write?
I'm blessed not to have a real job, so I can devote full time to writing. I have a small writing studio outside my home that I call "Area 51," and it contains only a desk, reference books, a coffee pot, and reams of white legal pads and boxes of No. 1 pencils, which I sharpen with an electric pencil sharpener. I don't use a computer for writing the first two or three drafts, but my assistant has a computer in her office for the final drafts and for online research. My writing hours are generally noon to about 7 p.m., unless I’m on a roll. I’ve written as late as 5 a.m., fueled by coffee. Anyone who stumbles upon Area 51 by accident meets with an accident.

How much and what kinds of marketing do you personally do?
Social media is a mixed blessing. It puts you in direct contact with your readers, but it also takes time and psychic energy that could be used for writing or drinking. I’ve put out a monthly newsletter for over a decade, which I thought was sufficient. It wasn’t. So about two years ago I hired a social media person who has introduced me to the world of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I mean, if POTUS can tweet, so can I. I don’t write blogs, and I don’t do readings or personal appearances, except when I’m on a publicity tour for a new book. I feel that my website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter keep my readers engaged and informed between books. Beyond selling books, I enjoy the feedback and the interaction. I learn from my readers.

What fictional detective would you like to be and why?
Sherlock Holmes. He dressed well, lived in a nice part of London, fired his pistol in his parlor, and didn’t need a prescription from Dr. Watson for his drugs. Also, Holmes' thinking wasn't interrupted by cell phone calls, texts, tweets, and emails. I also like that he didn’t depend on Uber to get a horse-drawn cab, and he never missed a train.

In five words or less, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Careful what you wish for.

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