Q&A with D. Eric Maikranz, Author of The Reincarnationist Papers
By Crime HQMay 3, 2021
What led you to self-publish your thriller in 2009 and include a “Reward” notice in the front of the book? Did you really think the reward tactic would help you get a traditional publishing/movie deal?
D. Eric Maikranz: I didn’t know if it would work when I did it, but I did know that readers enjoyed the book, and in the end, this business is about readers more than it is about agents and publishers. Offering the agent’s fee as a reward to readers was a way to trust their judgment and then incentivize them to help me get the book to a wider audience. The whole idea sounded a bit outlandish—until it worked.
What did you feel on Thanksgiving Day in 2010 when producer Rafi Crohn called to say he’d found your novel in Nepal and wanted to help you bring it to the big screen? Skepticism? Excitement?
DEM: I felt elated. First, someone had found a copy of my book halfway around the world. Second, an entertainment professional read my book and loved it. Third, he said he would get it made into a movie. I was over the moon. Skepticism followed quickly as I processed the chances of him actually following through, but he did. He sent me a finder’s agreement that aligned to the reward offer and he started to work and didn’t stop for seven years until it landed at Paramount.
What was the process of adapting The Reincarnationist Papers for film like (working with studios, casting, release dates, etc.)? What challenges did you have to overcome to bring your book to the big screen?
DEM: It has been great. Rafi Crohn has been a true champion of the book, and he worked tirelessly over seven years to find The Reincarnationist Papers a home. Everyone that I have worked with at Bellevue Productions and Paramount Pictures has been amazing.
The biggest challenge for me has been tempering my expectations through the entire process. Rafi warned me early on that trying to get the novel adapted would be a long shot, and John Zaozirny—head of Bellevue Productions, who first optioned the book—kept telling me most of the projects never get made into movies. But he just kept the deal alive at every challenge, and there were a few.
First, Paramount had a leadership change right after they bought the INFINITE adaptation of The Reincarnationist Papers, so the project sat on a shelf for over a year. Then, director Antoine Fuqua picked it up and got Chris Evans—yes, Captain America—to play the lead of Evan. But Chris had to drop out, and the project looked doomed until Mark Wahlberg signed on and the movie started shooting. Finally, the post-production was affected by COVID-19, and the studio had to delay the release of the movie twice. It should be in theaters late this summer on September 24th.
What are your hopes for your novel now that it’s been adapted for film?
DEM: One challenge in having your work adapted into film is giving up control. I don’t know what the final version of the film will be, but I trust screenwriter Ian Shorr to dazzle us. I hope that the movie keeps some of the existential themes in the book and explores questions of morality and how you would live your life in a vacuum of consequence.
What’s next for you as an author?
DEM: The second book in the series is done and is with beta-readers now. I hope to have it on bookshelves in late 2021 or early 2022.
What do you hope other authors (especially indie / self-published authors) take away from your unusual marketing success story?
DEM: Get your work in front of the most important people in publishing: the readers. Trust their feedback, even if agents and publishers are not seeing the opportunity. Andy Weir self-published The Martian, and his readers drove sales, which brought his success. E. L. James started the same way. As writers, we work in a time of opportunity where nothing stands in our way of finding and engaging with readers directly. Do it! Good things can happen when you do.
What would be your murder weapon of choice?
DEM: I have to steal an idea from a friend of mine, Mikel Evins, author of The Wolf Itself. His idea was to kill someone with a sharp icicle, after the stab wound—the weapon melts away.