The Gates House by Nelson DeMille
GLENN: Probably one of the greatest American writers of our time is Nelson DeMille. He has a new book that is out in bookstores now, The Gate House. We may be getting into -- he's probably -- I can't even say. Is he on the phone yet? Do we have him on the phone yet? Okay. I would say, I would guess that he's best known for his book The Gold Coast. I would have to ask him when he gets on the phone. But he's best known for the Gold Coast. That's what gets the best reviews. Everything this guy has ever written is still in print. That is -- I mean, I don't know even who does that. But the Gold Coast was about the people who, you know, are living in Long Island and they, you know -- and I think we have makings of the Gold Coast happening in Wall Street and New York City. It's what's going on.
Remember we were talking about the other day, I said back in the 1920s everybody started getting into -- you know, everybody was into, you know, these parties where they were having helicopter rides and they were -- you know, everybody was flying out to these big huge mansions out in Long Island and then all of a sudden they start to say -- this summer they were saying, well, gee, is this going to last. It's the same thing that happened in the 1920s. He's on now?
Nelson DeMille, welcome to the program. How are you?
DeMILLE: Glenn, very nice. Thank you.
GLENN: Would you say -- we were just talking about your book, the Gold Coast. Would you say that that, is that the thing that you're most well known for?
DeMILLE: Well, probably. You know, it was my only book that was kind of more of a, for want of a better word, let's say literature. Most of my books are action adventure but this was a more serious novel, you know, about America, about old money, about greed and corruption and I think that appeals to a lot of Americans.
GLENN: Okay. Now, I don't think you've ever written a sequel before, have you?
DeMILLE: No, I've never written a sequel. You know, my philosophy is leave well enough alone. As we know, there's no upside to going back to our success and maybe getting it wrong a sec time.
GLENN: Okay. So is The Gate House just a followup or as sequel?
DeMILLE: It's a real sequel. I set this in the post 9/11 world. It's in June 2002. An expatriate that comes back to America, changed very much since 9/11.
GLENN: Why did you -- because you don't like sequels. Why did you decide to write one?
DeMILLE: You know, I have gotten, since my original book, Gold Coast, was published, I've probably gotten 2,000 letters, e-mails and fan mails asking me, begging me, badgering me and threatening me if I didn't write a sequel. Everybody wanted to know what happened to the characters in this book. So you know, I listened to my fans and I said, okay, let me give this a shot. And I sat down and I wrote a sequel.
GLENN: You know, are you seeing another kind of a Gold Coast, a real life Gold Coast happening in New York and Wall Street right now?
DeMILLE: You know, it's interesting you said that because I live in an area, I say my little hometown in garden city, Long Island, I can't throw a stone without hitting a stockbroker and there's a lot of doom and gloom here and, of course, that extends to the Gold Coast which is a little bit nor of where I am, the old area of money, people and privilege. And this area's very, very involved with the finance markets.
GLENN: Yeah. Normally you write action adventure but there are no nukes in this, there are no terrorists in The Gate House.
DeMILLE: There's no nukes but you know what it is? It is the Mafia. The Gold Coast and really The Gate House have both been destroyed, The Great Gatsby meets The Godfather. It's a funny story, a bittersweet story of an old family in a huge estate and the estate next door moves Don frank Bellarosa, head of a Mafia family, the worst nightmare, a Mafia neighbor.
GLENN: You know, it's funny. This last summer my family and I, we just, you know, we just went on a vacation and we were going up through Newport.
GLENN: And Anderson Cooper who is a friend of mine, he is a Vanderbilt. So they have the big Vanderbilt mansion up there. And the Vanderbilt family still actually lives in the top two floors of the Breakers.
DeMILLE: Yeah, I've been to the Breakers. And Newport is very much like the Gold Coast of Long Island also like Bar Harbor, Maine. It's just amazing when you see the money these people have. These are 60, 70, 80 room opulent mansions, most of which are not occupied. Or if they are, it's like the Vanderbilt family, they occupy a piece of it. We have that here on Long Island, also.
GLENN: Yeah, it's amazing. You can't even -- I walked through that house and I thought, I can't even imagine the wealth that's involved, you know? Nell Nellie know.
GLENN: You can't get your arms around it at all.
DeMILLE: Well, you know, Glenn this is -- obviously most of these houses, not all of them, most of them were built pre income tax, which was I believe 1913, the income tax amendment. And in those days if you made $100 million, you kept $100 million. That's going to change real quick.
GLENN: You think?
DeMILLE: I think.
GLENN: You know, I was in a library, what was it, this last weekend or the weekend before and I went into their rare manuscript library. One of the librarians who recognized me was going to give me a tour of the rare manuscript library and brought out some old boxes of just some wildly, wildly famous authors and they were written in -- it was still written in longhand and I looked at him and I said, that doesn't happen anymore. Because you could see where they had scratched things out and rewrote and changed, and I thought, that just doesn't happen anymore. You still write in longhand?
DeMILLE: I still write in longhand and one of the reasons, in fact maybe the only reason is I can't type. I never learned how to type. But I also like the process. You know, you've got the pencil in your hand and you've got the paper in front of you, use long legal pads and you're able to kind of play with it a little bit. And I have all my handwritten manuscripts in the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University. They are fascinated by the fact that I write 1,000-page handwritten manuscripts and they wanted to archive these and I said, well, it's better than me storing them in the closet. So I gave them all my handwritten manuscripts.
GLENN: I tell you, Nelson, it's just a real honor to speak to you and it's amazing again how timely authors always are. I mean, when did you start writing The Gate House? When did you start thinking about writing it?
DeMILLE: Well, about about two years ago. Again it's set in a post 9/11 world but it's filled with this area of old money and financial empires which are either crumbling or -- it's about new money, too, Mafia being new money and a lot of other new money that comes into these areas. And I think the story is as timely today, certainly was timely in many ways based on the events of the last couple of months. And it's just a little peek into a strata of American society that we know little about, like the Newports and the ball harbors and the Gold Coast.
GLENN: You know, if you just don't mind, I wrote my first novel. It comes out a week from Tuesday.
DeMILLE: Oh, congratulations.
GLENN: Thank you very much.
DeMILLE: Who is the publisher, Glenn?
GLENN: Simon and Schuster.
DeMILLE: Great publisher.
GLENN: It's coming out a week from Tuesday. And I know you would say make sure it's well written but that ship sailed a long time ago. Do you have any tips on, you know, how to make sure that it's a hit?
DeMILLE: You have to do the Glenn Beck show for one thing. And --
GLENN: That's what it is? Am I in trouble.
DeMILLE: If you like to promote your own book, you know, it's the way to do it. And I did it in satellite radio and satellite TV.
DeMILLE: And at book signings, they are kind of fun. It gives you a chance to actually see your readers face to face and I had about 400 people show up last night and I shook 400 hands. I thought I was running for office.
GLENN: Yeah, it's really a neat thing and it's cool because when I go do book signings, it's neat to be able to meet people who really, they just, especially for you it must be different because they don't ever get a chance to really see you or really hear you talk. They just hear you through the words. It must be a neat experience.
DeMILLE: Yeah, except I guess when an old girlfriend shows up and you've got to deal with that.
GLENN: Nelson DeMille, the name of the book is The Gate House. It is available everywhere in bookstores. What a pleasure to speak to you, Nelson.
DeMILLE: Same here, Glenn. Thank you very much.
GLENN: You bet. Bye-bye.