Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Release Feature 10-16 The Panther + Q&A w/Nelson DeMille

 Q&A with #1 New York Times Bestselling author

Mr. Nelson DeMille

Mr. DeMille, first, welcome to the Barnes & Noble.com General Fiction Book Club forum. It’s my great pleasure to host such a prolific author and one of my favorite authors, as well.

Debbie - The Panther is your latest published novel and the 6th starring John Corey. And for your reader’s added pleasure, also includes Paul Brenner (Up Country & The General’s Daughter).
Can you briefly tell us a little about the novel?)
Nelson - As you said, this is my 6th novel starring John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective, now working for the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force at 26 Federal Plaza in NYC.  In The Panther, Corey and his wife, FBI Special Agent Kate Mayfield, are asked to go to Yemen.  Their mission is to find and apprehend Bulus ibn al-Darwish, an American-Yemeni, who was one of the masterminds of the USS Cole bombing which took place in Aden, Yemen in 2000.

Corey and Kate fly to Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, where they are met by Paul Brenner, who previously appeared in The General’s Daughter and Up Country.  Brenner, former Army Criminal Investigation Division detective, is now working for the Diplomatic Security Service.  Later, Corey, Kate, and Brenner join a man working for State Department Intelligence, then meet up with a CIA officer whom they don’t completely trust.  Now, with their five-person team in place, they are ready to look for al-Darwish, known as The Panther.
That’s the basic setup, and some of this is based on true events and situations, such as the Cole bombing.  Of course, as in most of my novels, there is more to this assignment than meets the eye, and Corey is aware of that, and so is the reader, but we’re not quite sure what’s going on behind the scenes until the end.

John Corey is your longest running connected novel/series character. To what do you attribute his longevity?  Do you have a certain number of novels planned starring John?
The first John Corey novel, Plum Island, was meant to be a stand-alone book, which you can see if you read it.  I had never done a series character before and I had no idea that John Corey would be my first.
What got me thinking about continuing this character was the large volume of reader mail I received about John Corey in Plum Island.  Apparently I had created a character that my readers loved and related to, and wanted to see again.  The male readers enjoyed John Corey’s sarcasm, cynicism, and offbeat humor, and the female readers loved John Corey for reasons that I can only guess at.
My plan is to bring Corey back in either the next novel or the one after.  When an author hits on a character who is universally liked, such as Ian Fleming did with James Bond, or Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, then it’s the reader, not the author, who decides if and when that character should retire.

Remembering back to your first published novel, does release day still excite you as much today as it did the first time?
My first published hardcover novel was By the Rivers of Babylon in 1978.  Nothing can duplicate or replace the excitement that a novelist feels for his or her first novel.  Having said that, release date is still a very big deal, filled with excitement, some anxiety, and lots of hope.  The time between books is usually long enough so that each book, in a way, feels like the first.  An author who doesn’t feel that way should take a break, take stock, and try to recall why he or she is writing.

Speaking of going back, can you tell us the genesis of your writing career?
I was an avid reader as a child, partly because there wasn’t much else available then for entertainment.  Also, I found that I admired writers and I was in awe of their ability to put words on paper that transported me to different times and places.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to be a writer.
It was probably my year in Vietnam as a combat infantry officer that spurred me to attempt a war story.  That story never got published, but the experience of putting pen to paper made me realize that I enjoyed the process a lot more than I did in college writing term papers.
I served overseas with a man whose college roommate was also in the Army, but who was a book editor in civilian life.  When we all returned home to New York, we met in a bar on Third Avenue and over drinks talked about the war and also about me writing something about it.  As I said, that novel was never published, but this editor encouraged me to write a police procedural, which I did, and it was published as a paperback original.  After a few years of night and weekend writing, I quit the day job and began By the Rivers of Babylon, which was a hardcover bestseller.  Later, I finally got back to the theme of Vietnam and wrote Word of Honor, then I returned to this subject with Up Country.  So, in a way, it was my time in Vietnam that led me to become a published novelist.

In your travels to research your novels, which location was your favorite and have you ever decided because of the research to return to a location for a pleasure visit?
Interesting question.  Many of my novels are set in and around New York City and Long Island where I live, so there’s no travel involved with that research.  I did go to Moscow and Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, to research The Charm School during the Soviet era in 1986.  These were really creepy places and I had no desire to return.  But after the Wall came down, I was curious to see the changes in the former Soviet Union, but I kept putting off the trip.  Then in 2005 I booked a Baltic cruise that took me and my wife to St. Petersburg.  The city had not changed much and it’s still physically beautiful, though still run down, but the people looked and acted better, which was good to see.
My first trip to Vietnam was in 1967-68 with all expenses paid by the United States Army.  I saw all I wanted to see in that year, and I thought I’d never return. But in 1997, I did return with two friends who were also combat veterans.  The changes were phenomenal and a bit disorienting after 29 years.  I hadn’t intended to write a book about this revisit, but I’d read William Manchester’s Goodbye, Darkness, a non-fiction book about returning to the South Pacific where he’d seen combat in World War II.  I felt as he did – that the return to a bad time and place was cathartic, and that to complete the catharsis I needed to write about it, which I did in Up Country.
Most of the other locales that I’ve used in my novels were pleasant places and I have returned to some of them for pleasure.  I’m thinking of setting my next novel in Tahiti or Bermuda and spending a lot of time researching.

Do you have a favorite of your novels and why?
All of my novels are my favorite, and the new one is always my new favorite.  But to answer the question honestly, The Gold Coast remains my favorite and it seems to be everyone’s favorite.  Why?  I don’t know.  I enjoyed writing it and I’ve actually re-read it two or three times.  In some ways, it’s timeless and each reading reveals something that even I, as the author, find surprising and insightful.
My most personal novels are the Vietnam novels, Word of Honor and Up Country, but they were difficult to write in regard to having to dredge up unpleasant memories.  People who served in Vietnam as well as those who knew or loved people who served tell me these stories are hard to read, but harder to put down.

As a reader, do you enjoy fiction or non-fiction when you’re reading for pleasure?
I am a non-fiction reader for the same reason that a bus driver wouldn’t take a bus trip cross-country.  To the extent that I read fiction, I tend to be overly-critical, and I can spot when the author is either in trouble or faking it.  Having said that, I do read and love the classics.  My rule is, If the author is dead and famous, I’ll read him or her.
I find that non-fiction is helpful to me as a novelist in terms of structure and focus.  Also, non-fictions contains a wealth of facts, trivia, and other tidbits that I find myself working into my novels.  Good fiction needs to be fact-based, not totally made up, and novelists who read other novels for facts, inspiration, or stylistic tips are not spending their time wisely.
Having said all that, there’s no pleasure like the pleasure of reading a wonderful novel.

Mr. DeMille, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. I’m sure that the B&N fans would love to meet you in person.
Do you have any Barnes & Noble events or signings planned for this release?
Thanks, Debbie, for a great interview and for making me think about being a novelist.
I’ll be appearing at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, NYC, on Friday, October 19 at 7 p.m.  With me will be Scott Brick, the audio narrator for all my John Corey books and many of my other books.
I’ll also be at the Barnes & Noble in Carle Place, Long Island, NY on Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m.  This is my local bookstore and we expect a good crowd.
In addition to these talks and signings, I’ll be dropping in at a number of Barnes & Nobles in the New York area to sign copies of The Panther so readers can find signed copies on the shelves.

My Review of The Panther

 The Panther

Nelson DeMille
Grand Central Publishing
640 pages
John Corey NYPD retired and Kate Mayfield FBI have more in common that marriage, they work together for the multi-departmental, Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force. They’ve been through a lot together and fighting terrorists is nothing new. A past threat has risen, an American born jihadist and al-Qaeda top guy known as The Panther. He’s the suspected mastermind of the USS Cole bombing plus any number of atrocities against innocent victims and men-at-arms in the name of radical Islam. Kate and John are offered an assignment to go to Yemen and apprehend this monster and being on the al-Qaeda kill list, because of their killing the terrorist known as The Lion, makes them great bait to use to lure The Panther into a trap. In Yemen they are paired with associates from various lettered agencies to help get the job done. There are many dangers in the Yemeni desert, John and Kate hope to be able to count on their partners in arms and that the only homegrown threat comes from The Panther and not from the one lettered agency that they have a troubled past with, the CIA.

Nelson DeMille delivers an explosive new novel staring our old friends John Corey and Kate Mayfield with an added bonus of Paul Brenner from “Up Country” &” The General’s Daughter” novels. This is one of his best Corey and Mayfield novels. His fast paced, action filled story takes place in the near past, the country is still reeling from 9/11, the citizens are still flying flags and the terrorists are just getting infamous. My heart rate tripled as he took me deep into enemy territory and I, like our heroes wondered whom I could trust and who to doubt. It’s not just his story-line that get’s A pluses, his characters are unforgettable both the good and the bad. As far as his stars go, Kate is the true professional and a real hero of mine and as for John, well in a recent interview I did with Mr. DeMille he said “The male readers enjoyed John Corey’s sarcasm, cynicism, and offbeat humor, and the female readers loved John Corey for reasons that I can only guess at.” Well I’ll answer that question personally, John Corey is this married woman’s worst nightmare and fondest desire in one all male package, he’s my husband every time he’s embarrassed me in public but who’s honesty, and loyalty are my dream come true. And Kate is his true match in every way, quip for quip and glib for glib but all done in a love that comes across to me as very authentic.
If you’re looking for a read after heart surgery, you may want to wait until you’re stronger. But if it’s non-stop, pulse-pounding from page one to the end action you’re looking for, if you need a hero to look up to, or an evil doer that’s par-none and worth every one of it’s 640 pages. Then it’s “The Panther” that you want to make your next Must Read.
Mr. DeMille thank you for this incredible journey, I’ll have my bags packed and ready to go in time for the next one.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

The Book Trailer

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