D. Eric Maikranz has had a multitude of lives in this lifetime. As a world traveler, he was a foreign correspondent while living in Rome, translated for relief doctors in Nicaragua during a cholera epidemic, and was once forcibly expelled from the nation of Laos. He has worked as a tour guide, a radio host, a bouncer, and as a Silicon Valley software executive. The Reincarnationist Papers is his first novel, which has been adapted into the Paramount Pictures film, INFINITE, starring Mark Wahlberg.
In this post, Maikranz explains how he connected with his audience after self-publishing his novel The Reincarnationist Papers and what it was like to get that novel picked up by a Hollywood director and traditional publisher later on.
Name: D. Eric Maikranz
Book title: The Reincarnationist Papers
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release date: May 4, 2021
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Conspiracy
Elevator pitch for the book: A young man troubled by memories of past lives accidentally stumbles upon a secret society of others like him.
Previous titles by the author: Insider’s Rome and Insider’s Venice
What prompted you to write this book?
I am fascinated by time and how we are different people at different times in our lives. We are students, then workers, and then retirees. We are children, then parents, and then grandparents. And each person we were helps us to become that new person we need to become.
I think this quote captures it best: “Every man is his own ancestor, and every man his own heir. He devises his own future, and he inherits his own past.” -H. F. Hedge
We’ve all heard the age-old saying "if I only knew then what I know now." I took that thought to its extreme by envisioning characters with centuries of knowledge and wisdom inherited from a total recall (languages, skills, experiences) of their past lives.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication?
I finished the second draft in 2008, but the first idea of using reincarnation for longer storylines and character development goes back to the 1990s. I wrote the first draft in 18 months and then spent 10 years refining and adding to it.
Once the movie adaptation started, I found Blackstone Publishing, and it took about a year and a half to complete the publishing process.
About halfway through the process, I added my research as footnotes to the historical flashbacks from the characters’ previous lives and that brought a new dimension to the book.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
Yes, there were quite a few, but the most important one is how one champion can start a wonderful chain of events.
I tried to get the book published back in 2008 after the second draft was done, but I was unsuccessful. As a result, I self-published The Reincarnationist Papers in 2009, but I also employed an innovative technique of crowdsourcing from my Silicon Valley day job to try to get the book to a wider audience. Specifically, I empowered my readers to help me by placing a cash reward on the first page to anyone who could introduce the novel to a Hollywood producer who would adapt the novel into a movie. This reward of an agent’s commission for making an introduction that led to a movie deal effectively crowdsourced my early readers into an army of agents.
18 months later, an assistant to a Hollywood director found a copy of The Reincarnationist Papers (with the reward offer) in a hostel in Nepal. He loved the book and wanted to see it made into a movie. This was my one champion.
It took him seven years, but he eventually got my debut novel turned into a movie, titled INFINITE, which is due out in 2021 from Paramount, starring Mark Wahlberg and Dylan O’Brien. I paid my champion the reward in December 2019 after Paramount completed the contract with me.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
Yes, there were a few. I couldn’t have anticipated how many opening paragraphs it would take to get that first voice right. It took dozens to get it where I wanted.
Another was how some of the characters surprised me with a voice or a choice that I hadn’t planned for them. Those are the moments you stop and look behind your chair and ask, “Where did that come from?”
Lastly, I was surprised that about half of the historical flashback chapters wanted to grow into full novels themselves. It took some pruning to keep them trimmed to the right size for the novel they support.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I hope readers will be entertained by these characters who have centuries of experience over multiple recalled lives and by how their past interactions affect their choices.
I hope that readers can see themselves on similar (but limited) timelines where different futures are possible by thinking of themselves now as benefactors to their future selves.
If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?
Be creative and open-minded about how you can get your work in front of readers, any readers.
I used an agent’s reward to empower my readers to help me get a movie deal. Andy Weir published chapters of The Martian for free on his blog until he got attention from publishers. Grisham famously sold copies of his first novel out of the trunk of his car.
Get your work out there in front of the people who matter most—readers. Magic can happen when you do.