Last September, just before his most recent thriller, The Cuban Affair, came out, I caught up #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. Reaching him by telephone, Nelson granted me a generous full-length interview, answering everything I threw at him.
One of the first questions I asked him was about John Corey, his fan-favorite protagonist who has starred in seven books (including DeMille’s 2015 novel Radiant Angel) and a number of short stories. I thought, like many, that it was interesting he’d chosen not to bring Corey back for The Cuban Affair, opting instead to create a new character to build the plot around.
Here’s what DeMille told me at the time, in regards to Corey.
“I was honestly just starting to get a little tired of John. I’m always reminded of Sherlock Holmes and how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed him off but then had to bring him back,” said DeMille with a deep chuckle. “I was starting to feel like John Corey had outlived his usefulness. And while all the books have been successful, I didn’t know how much more attention to give this guy and I was relieved to find out that Simon & Schuster felt the same way and that they would rather start new.”
To add some perspective to the quote, DeMille had made headlines a couple years back when he signed a lucrative six-book deal with Simon & Schuster, leaving his longtime publisher, Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette. (Note: it’s said that three of those books will be written by DeMille himself, and three will be co-authored with someone else.) The Cuban Affair was his first book with S&S and some, rightfully so, were surprised that John Corey wouldn’t be at the center of it.
“It doesn’t mean there won’t be any more John Corey books, I just needed a break, DeMille added during our chat. “I had to create a new character, but I also like the idea of doing a standalone of new characters. Series are great, and the readers love series–they love Mitch Rapp and Jack Reacher–and I give a lot of credit to the authors who can do that, but I was coming to the end of my line with John Corey and wanted to do a standalone and something different.”
Instead, Daniel “Mac” MacCormick was created and he anchored DeMille’s latest novel, which debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list last fall.
Before concluding the interview, I also asked DeMille about his plans for his next book. He couldn’t share much about the plot with me, but he was adamant that it would be another standalone.
“I like the idea that I have, but I have a lot of research to do. It will be a new character, a standalone for sure. I like the idea of a new character again.”
So DeMille’s twenty-first novel will definitely be standalone, right? Not so fast! It turns out, eight months after our interview, that Nelson DeMille has changed his mind and took to his newsletter to announce to fans that John Corey will return in his next book after all.
“In my May Newsletter I shared with you an email I received from John Corey that began, “Dear Brutus,” in which Corey accused me of being an ingrate because my next book was not about him,” wrote DeMille, joking with his fans. “So I asked you in May if you thought my next book should be a Corey book, and I received over a thousand replies.”
According to the legendary author, “about ninety percent” voted to bring Corey back. He also joked that “five percent said John Corey is an arrogant, narcissistic, male chauvinist pig and a wise ass,” and quipped that “A few people suggested that I retire.”
“In any case, you have spoken and my next book will feature John Corey. The book, currently untitled, begins where Plum Island began, with John sitting on the back porch of his uncle’s house on the North Fork of Long Island, overlooking the Great Peconic Bay. John’s opening line is, “You can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning.”And we go from there,” announced DeMille.
So there you have it. We don’t know when, or what he’ll be up to, but we do know for sure that John Corey is gearing up to make his triumphant return in Nelson DeMille’s still untitled next novel. Stay tuned for more updates!
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.