UNCW Professor Makes NYT Bestseller List With Agatha Christie’s Novel (‘1on1 with Jon Evans’ Podcast)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – What happened to Agatha Christie in early December 1926? Many people have speculated about the eleven-day disappearance of the famous author. Nina de Gramont had the idea to give the story a fictional twist. After all, the professor at UNCW had already written and published eight books. So, de Gramont set out to create a story and take her readers to England just before the time of Agatha’s mysterious absence, as her husband Archie planned to elope with his mistress. The Christie Affair released in early 2022, seven years after de Gramont’s previous release, The distance from me to you.

“The book was acquired by a publisher at the end of February 2020,” de Gramont said. “So the kind of two years between that and the release, I think, was kind of due to COVID. Before that, it was just the arduous task of research and all the reading I had to do. I will tell you at some point. I had written a draft or two of the book and just had a panic attack. I’m American, I can’t write this book! I put it aside and wrote a whole other book. Then I put that one aside and came back to The Christie Affair.”

The book has become a New York Times Bestsellerfueled in part by being chosen as February selection for Reese’s Book Club. Founded by Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, the club highlights books with women at the center of the story. De Gramont learned the news while preparing for a class and also learned that she had to keep it a secret.

“It was about five minutes before I went to teach,” recalls de Gramont. “My editor Jennifer (Enderlin) called me and said, ‘I have the most exciting news! Reese Witherspoon chose The Christie Affair for its February book selection!’. I screamed and jumped up and down, and Jennifer said, ‘You can’t tell anyone!’ Everyone I know just heard me scream! What am I going to tell them?. It was amazing! Then I had to say, ‘I have to go! I have to go teach!’ So, this was definitely the most distracted class I’ve ever taught. But it was very exciting and very exciting.

The Christie Affair is the second book by de Gramont to be offered for cinema or television, with The distance from me to you. She was hired to write the 2015 book and owns none of the rights to it. But she was in contact with the screenwriter working on a The Christie Affair series, and hopes to have the chance to give his opinion during the process.

“I think it’s important to remember that the book always stands on its own. The Christie Affair is going to be a TV series, and I hope it’s wonderful. It would be more fun than if it weren’t wonderful,” de Gramont said with a smile. “But at the same time, it doesn’t change what the book is. You think of the number of books that have been turned into several different versions of movies and series. So, I try to separate myself from it a little.

De Gramont grew up in New Jersey, in the shadow of New York. She says her parents encouraged a love and appreciation of the arts around their home, and the family often ventured into the city to see plays and visit museums. She attended Colorado College, earned a degree in English Literature, and completed her Masters of Fine Arts at UNCW in 2006, having moved to Wilmington when her husband, author David Gessner, accepted a position for become a university professor. De Gramont’s first novel, Starling gossippublished in 2008. His first book, Of cats and menwas a collection of short stories collected in a longer form. The Christie Affair is his ninth book, and his most successful to date. She admits, being known as a ‘New York Times The successful author comes with a range of emotions.

“It’s something I worked hard on for a long time and hoped it would come true,” de Gramont says. “My first book was published in 2001. If this book had reached the New York Times Bestseller list, I think it was because I was so brilliant and predestined, and that was my destiny. But having been through all the ups and downs and knowing so many other authors, I know there’s a fair amount of luck involved. So that’s where modesty comes in. And yes, I’m a little nervous about following this.

Nina de Gramont has taught several fiction and creative writing courses at UNCW. You can Click here to visit his page on the university’s website. Ninadegramont.com is the website to learn more about his previous work and to read news and reviews about The Christie Affair. I hope you enjoy the conversation with Nina de Gramont as much as I do.

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