Guest Post by Thomas Block
Neither one of us is counting it up any longer, but since readers will probably want a number I’ll cipher one for you: as of today, Nelson DeMille and I have been close friends for slightly more than 62 years. Matter of fact, we both learned the beginning skills of reading and writing at precisely the same time. We sat next to each other in kindergarten and with crayons in hand, our teacher tried to show us how to make proper letters on a sheet of paper. Nelson got the concept right away but, frankly, his penmanship hasn’t gotten much better over the years (he should have been a doctor). I muddled along back then, but I guess that I instinctively knew that word processors were in my future, even though that future invention was still 30+ years away.
I was a ‘professional writer’ before Nelson DeMille became one because by the time he returned from his all-expense-paid tour of Vietnam courtesy of Uncle Sam and his US Army Lieutenant bars, I was writing monthly columns for Flying Magazine. Nelson had decided that he was going to become a professional novelist, so we began doing our writing stuff together, with me giving him a hand with the detective paperback originals that he began cranking out. The pay wasn’t much, but he was published and I was learning this novel stuff, too!
Years went by with Nelson getting better and more successful with each successive book, and me providing him with editorial assistance. Matter of fact, the plot elements for his big breakthrough novel – By The Rivers Of Babylon – were written in Nelson’s chicken-scratching on a yellow pad while he was helping me move furniture to Western Pennsylvania after the airline I was flying for closed the New York crew base.