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Nelson DeMille Biography
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Nelson DeMille Biography

Nelson DeMilleFans of Nelson DeMille have undoubtedly noticed that more than one of his novels have been set in Long Island, New York. There's good reason - he grew up there. Having been born in New York City on August 23, 1943, to Huron and Antonia DeMille, he and his family relocated to Long Island when he was still a child. Nelson was active in high school athletics, playing football and running track.

After high school he attended Hoftra University for three years before joining the army. DeMille completed Officer Candidate School and served as a First Lieutenant from 1966 to 1969, seeing action as an infantry platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam (in Quang Tri Provence, from November '67 to December '68). A decorated soldier, he was honored with the Air Medal, Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. The Vietnam War is another recurring theme that runs through DeMille's work.


"I suppose to some extent my male heroes are like me - funny, sexy, smart, brave, good looking and humble." ~ Nelson DeMille
Following his stint in the service, DeMille came home and returned to Hoftra earning a degree in Political Science and History. He was also awarded the Estabrook Award. With intentions of becoming a novelist, he began writing about what he knew best. "I wanted to write the great American war novel at the time," DeMille said. "I never really wrote the book, but it got me into the writing process."
"I use the cliff hanger technique. I try to end every chapter with an air of suspense. I try to leave the reader wanting to turn the page. I try to use short sentences, short paragraphs and short chapters to keep the reader's interest." ~ Nelson DeMille on his writing techniques
His earliest books were crime novels set in New York City written under the pseudonym Jack Cannon. "I used the pen name," said Demille, "because I knew I wanted to write better novels under my own name someday." Eventually, he gave up his job as an insurance fraud investigator and committed himself to writing full time. The result was By the Rivers of Babylon (1978), a thriller about terrorism in the Middle East. Named as a Book of the Month Club selection, this first novel to be published under his own name helped establish DeMille as one of our foremost writers of literary thrillers.
"My two favorite contemporary authors are Tom Clancy and Stephen King." ~ Nelson DeMille
A deliberate writer who never succumbed to the novel-a-year mentality, Nelson Demille has, nevertheless, produced an impressive body of work. Among his published work are 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 and, his most recent release, The Gate House which debuted at #1 on the New York Times fiction bestseller list in November of 2008.
"Ernest Hemingway was the author I drew inspiration from. I also like to read Truman Capote and Graham Greene. Conan Doyle is another... so is Tom Wolfe and John Steinbeck." ~ Nelson DeMille
Among his favorite novels are The Stranger by Albert Camus, Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maughm, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Magus by John Fowles, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, and 1984 by George Orwell.

DeMille, who still lives on Long Island, has two children, Lauren and Alexander.


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