JCC to Experience De-Lights of DeMille
ArtsJaffe’s Jewish Jive

JCC to Experience De-Lights of DeMille

Best-selling author Nelson DeMille returns to Atlanta to discuss his latest thriller.

Marcia Caller Jaffe

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Nelson DeMille says twists and turns don’t make a book better.
Nelson DeMille says twists and turns don’t make a book better.

New York Times best-selling author Nelson DeMille introduces a new character, U.S. Army combat veteran Daniel “Mac” MacCormick, in his new thriller, “The Cuban Affair.”

It’s the first stand-alone novel in over two decades for DeMille, six of whose 20 novels have topped the Times’ best-seller list. He’s also with a new publisher after books such as “Radiant Angel,” “Plum Island,” “The Charm School,” “The Gold Coast” (my favorite), and “The General’s Daughter,” which was made into a major motion picture starring John Travolta. He lives on Long Island with his family.

He will speak at the Marcus Jewish Community Center at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26., along with Alan Gross, the Jewish businessman/consultant who was imprisoned in Cuba on trumped-up charges for five years.

DeMille’s new central character, Mac, is a charter boat captain who is about to set sail on his most dangerous cruise yet, from Key West to pre-thaw Cuba. The book is filled with blistering adventure and fascinating facts about Cuba, including a dark, shocking secret that could freeze the thaw.

Mac learns that someone who fled Castro’s revolution hid $60 million in Cuba, and it’s only a matter of time before someone else finds the stash — by accident or on purpose. Mac knows that if he accepts this job, he’ll walk away rich or not at all.

With his signature humor and heart-pounding pace, DeMille does not disappoint in this brilliantly written novel.

Here’s our chat.

Jaffe: You’re back in Atlanta. How do you view our city?

DeMille: Atlanta is a great book city with enthusiastic crowds. Among authors, Atlanta is cherished.

Jaffe: Are you Jewish?

DeMille: Actually, no, but my first wife was, and I took our daughters to religious school. I am quite comfortable with Judaism.

Jaffe: In your early days, why did you use all the different pen names?

DeMille: For on-the-job training, I was writing paperbacks on police procedures for various publishers at $1,500 a book, one completed every two years. Hard to make a living at that rate!

Jaffe: Share your observations about your visit to Cuba.

DeMille: I expected it to be more of a police state. It’s not recommended to go walking in Moscow after dark. But Cuba at night lights up with culture, dance, drinks and sex — a Caribbean feel. I’d call it “joyful life” vs. a repressive society.

Jaffe: Speaking of a police state, you are appearing here with Alan Gross, who was illegally imprisoned in Cuba for five years. What’s your relationship?

DeMille: He mentioned me in his own interview, and then we connected. I regret how he suffered there. We talk on the phone and are meeting in D.C. for a Politics and Prose conference.

Jaffe: Is it true that you still compose your books in longhand?

DeMille: Yes, and each one takes 16 months. So this is my 20th book over 40 years. Hmm, that’s one every two years.

Jaffe: Do I sniff a movie deal for “The Cuban Affair” a la “The General’s Daughter”?

DeMille: We are in talks with Sony. I think it would make a great stand-alone movie and am avoiding TV offers. By the way, initially I didn’t think Travolta would be good in that lead, but he pulled it off.

Jaffe: You served in the military. Are your main characters autobiographical?

DeMille (laughing): Now that I’m eligible for Social Security and Medicare, I guess I’ll say no.

Jaffe: You are known for linear plots, sarcasm, a suffering hero, writing in the first person with an inconclusive ending. Does “The Cuban Affair” align with that?

DeMille: Writing with twists and turns doesn’t make a book better. That may be a sign of bad writing in trying to be too clever. I read “The Great Gatsby” decades ago and realized that a first-person narrator is my magic.

Jaffe: Have any hobbies?

DeMille: My wife tried to get me to play golf, but I write every day. It’s a very inexpensive hobby. We do travel a lot — London, Paris, Rome and exotic locations. Love that.

Jaffe: You have a beautiful, melodious voice. You should be in broadcasting.

DeMille: It’s just the cigarettes talking.

The Cuban Affair

By Nelson DeMille

Simon & Schuster, 448 pages, $28.99

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