By John Raab
Author Nelson Demille is one of the most successful authors of our generation. When you talk master storytellers in the thriller / suspense genre, his name has to be at or near the top of a very short list. Nelson started his career in 1974 with his first novel THE SNIPER being published with his character Joe Ryker. From that point Nelson has published over a dozen novels, with WORD OF HONOR and THE GENERALS DAUGHTER being made into movies. Nelson was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army and saw action as an infantry platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. It is experiences in the military that gives Nelson’s book that perfect feel of realism, especially with arguably is best character Paul Brennar, played by John Travolta in THE GENERALS DAUGHTER movie. He was decorated with the Air Medal, Bronze Star and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. THE QUEST is his latest book to come out, shall we take a peek inside:
From the dusty archives of the Vatican to the overgrown jungles of Ethiopia, an unlikely crew of four begins a deadly search for the Holy Grail.
Two reporters, a mercenary soldier, and a devastatingly beautiful photographer are caught in the upheaval of an Ethiopian civil war. When they encounter a dying priest who has escaped from a bombed-out jungle prison, he reveals to them an incredible secret–the location of Christ’s cup from the Last Supper hidden in a remote monastery. Thus begins their Quest-a deadly adventure that pits them against murderous tribesmen, shadowy assassins, fanatical Coptic monks, and ultimately against the powers of the Grail itself.
It’s not easy catching up with Nelson, but we were lucky enough to do just that, so let’s hear from the author directly.
Can you tell us a little more about your latest book THE QUEST that is not on the back cover?
A succinct way to describe THE QUEST is, Indiana Jones meets THE DA VINCI CODE. The book is set in 1974-75, against the background of the Marxist revolution that deposed the Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie. So there’s also an element of Dr. Zhivago in the story; the Commies toppling an old aristocracy, executing the royal family, and imposing a new order on a backward country. This is a cool backdrop to the main storyline of three Western journalists trying to find a Coptic monastery in which the Grail is supposed to be hidden.
Having your characters in THE QUEST deal with internal conflict, how does that help the depth of their character development?
The three main characters are Frank Purcell, a cynical American freelance journalist, Henry Mercado, an older, seasoned reporter who has found God, and Vivian Smith, a young, and of course beautiful photographer. Purcell does not believe in the existence of the Grail, but Mercado does, though he has moments of doubt, and Vivian is a true believer. Each character has to look within themselves for their motivation in risking their lives to find the Grail. In a way, each of them is on an inner journey to find peace, salvation, and God. To make things more interesting, both men have slept with Vivian and both are in love with her. Vivian is trying to make up her mind about who she wants to be with. Eventually, she makes her choice – on the last page.
If you could solve one mystery for yourself, would it be the Holy Grail?
I think I’d like to solve Sigmund Freud’s mystery of, “What do women want?” When I figure that out, I can write much better novels. I’d also like to know what my mother did with my baseball card collection. And while I’m at it, I’d like to solve the mystery of the publisher’s royalty statements.
What is the one email or comment you have received from a reader that you find the most memorable?
I’ve received hundreds of memorable emails and letters from readers, but the most memorable was an unfinished letter that was sent to me by a woman whose husband had died before he could finish it. The man had been sick, and he had begun writing me that my books had brought him some comfort and diversion as he was dealing with his illness. His widow wanted me to have that letter, which was very kind of her, and I replied, to her – and also to him.
All three of your main characters are sitting in front of you, what would you like to ask them?
Well, first I’d like to thank them for sharing their interesting lives and their inner thoughts with me. Also, I’d like to ask them if I fully captured their spiritual and personal conflicts. I’d also like them each to tell me what motivated them to risk their lives. Was it a pure quest to find the Grail and prove its existence? Or was it an ego-driven adventure – a means to fame and fortune? And how much were the two men showing off for the lady? Would they have done this if Vivian was not present? Probably none of the three could fully and honestly answer these questions. Human beings are very complex and they deceive themselves more than they deceive others.
For more information on Nelson and all of his work, check out his website at www.nelsondemille.net
We would like to thank Nelson for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us, now it’s time to put yourself on THE QUEST.