Selling Authors: Continuing Ed at Marymount Manhattan College
Joan Baum, Ph.D.
onstage before a full house, blockbuster novelist Nelson DeMille,
“the DeMille of our time,” as Marymount Manhattan Writing Center
Director Lewis B. Frumkes put it, relegating Cecil and Agnes (no
relation) to another era, announced that rather than read from
his latest novel, Up Country, he would take questions from
the audience. At least 20 hands shot up immediately. Of course,
he had a few remarks first. He apologized for his slightly raspy
voice, the result of just coming off a 45-city tour. Hectic pace,
but worth it. Needs the money, the wife, the mistress...pause,
just kidding...pause, anyone see him the previous day on Fox 5?
No hands. Nelson DeMille need not worry. The double line crowd
that formed after the Q & A for the book signing was noticeably
longer than that gathered for the goodies at the reception. When
you beat out food, you’ve got to be good. Of course, he is.
The author and co-author of over a dozen bestsellers, the recipient
of honorary doctorates and awards, a member of numerous literary,
cultural, historical, veterans and civic organizations, and a
bon vivant raconteur, Nelson DeMille proved that he was also a
funny and down-to-earth guy. He answered questions directly, playfully.
Does he want to write more screenplays? “No, they eat you alive
in Hollywood.” With a book you have the final cut. When does he
write best? “Late afternoon, early evening” four times a week,
and –surprise, surprise (the audience gasps)—he doesn’t know how
to type. He writes longhand with a soft pencil, three drafts,
then he hands over the manuscript to be typed. He edits a few
times, the last a read-through in four sessions, his estimate
of how most readers pace themselves with his books.
Does he know how his books will turn out, who the murderer is?
Not always. He tends to plot only the beginning. Any favorite
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