Best-selling author Andrew Neiderman holds two prolific jobs.
The Palm Springs resident writes novels under his own name—46 so far, in fact. Seven of his novels have been made into films—most notably The Devil’s Advocate, starring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron.
He’s also the ghostwriter for the famed V.C. Andrews series, for which he’s penned 73 novels. The franchise by the late Virginia Andrews was at 30 million books sold after Andrews’ death in 1986—and is now at 106 million books sold. It’s one of the world’s biggest and longest-lasting literary franchises.
Every time I’ve visited Neiderman at his south Palm Springs home over the last 15 years, he’s been working on yet another project—a book, a script, a play or a production venture. His newest novel, The Terrorist’s Holiday, was published March 10.
“The Terrorist’s Holiday was a novel always in my mind to write,” Neiderman said. “I grew up in the setting, the Catskill resort area of New York State. It was basically a resort created by Jewish hotel owners. Movies like Dirty Dancing depict the ‘season.’ My familiarity with the area and the resort world helped me bring it to life on the page.”
In this novel, Neiderman touches on a subject that’s all over the news nowadays—terrorism—and connects sentiments from the past with today’s political realities.
“I remember all the major hotels were always opened during the Jewish holidays,” he recalls. “Many times, there were visiting dignitaries from Israel, so I imagined that period of time, those events and a major opportunity for terrorists to strike at Israel. I wanted to create a pair of terrorists who were ambiguous about their motivations and challenges. The New York City detective who stumbles on the plot is Jewish as well.”
The novel’s publishing date couldn’t have been more timely, given that it fell just one week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress. Neiderman said he actually met Netanyahu, in the United Kingdom, on the day of the 2005 London bombings.
“I was at The Langham hotel across from the BBC,” Neiderman remembers. “We met in the hallway the day of the bombing, July 7, 2005. Since the Brits were somewhat critical of Israel and its stance at the time, I talked about the irony of him being there that day, when England was suffering at the hands of the same terrorists.”
Neiderman gave me an advance, uncorrected copy of The Terrorist’s Holiday before the book's release. Such copies are printed for marketing purposes—and for movie producers. There’s always a chance that another one of his novels will reach movie audiences in a big way, like The Devil’s Advocate did in 1997.
“Unless (the book) gets picked up by a major studio, it can’t be as big as The Devil’s Advocate, because a feature from a studio opens up world markets,” Neiderman said. “However, we are getting great reviews and reception, and hope to see it do very well.”
A few years back, Neiderman told me it took him only a one-line pitch to sell The Devil’s Advocate’s movie rights to Warner Bros. The line was: “It’s about a New York law firm that represents only guilty people—and never loses a case!”
The Devil’s Advocate continues to pay dividends for Neiderman. Warner Horizon has been developing The Devil’s Advocate as a TV series for NBC, while Neiderman is working on developing The Devil’s Advocate into a musical for British and German theaters. The Devil’s Advocate is set to be a stage play in Holland later this year. Neiderman has already written Judgment Day, a prequel to The Devil’s Advocate, and Pocket Books/Gallery has a contract to publish it.
“Judgment Day is going to be published in June this year,” Neiderman confirmed. “The novel depicts Satan, who took over a New York law firm. It introduces a prime new character in the guise of a detective with spiritual insight.”
Since moving to the desert in 1989, Neiderman has written quite a few novels that take place in Palm Springs. Among these notable titles are Dead Time, Unholy Birth, Angel of Mercy and The Magic Bullet.
Now 74, Neiderman is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, his contract to write V.C. Andrews novels continues through at least 2017.