Saturday, February 8, 2014

Featured Author: Clive Cussler

Clive Eric Cussler, known as “the Grand Master of Adventure”, was born July 15, 1931 in Aurora, Illinois.  His family soon moved to Alhambra, California, where he grew up.  Clive became an Eagle Scout at age 14.  After attending Pasadena City College for two years, Cussler joined the US Air Force, serving as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer in Korea.  Returning to the States, he worked as a copywriter, then as creative director for two of the country’s most successful advertising agencies.  Clive married Barbara Knight in 1955:  the two lived almost 50 years together until her death in 2003.  Their children Teri, Dirk, and Davna have delighted their parents with four grandchildren.

Clive wrote and produced radio and television commercials:  many won awards, including the top prize from the prestigious Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.  He started writing fiction in 1965 when Barbara worked nights for a local police department.  There was nothing to do and no one to talk to after Cussler made dinner for himself and the children, ascertained their homework was done, and put them to bed.  Larger-than-life character Dirk Pitt leaped from his imagination, but sidekick Al Giordano was based upon a war buddy who is still a good friend. Clive’s first book was published in 1973—his novels have since been translated in more than 40 languages and appear in over 100 countries. He has been on The New York Times Bestseller List 17 times.  Cussler’s first nonfiction work The Sea Hunters was accepted in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis by the State University of New York Maritime College in 1997.  He has also written more non-fiction and children’s works.

Clive is fascinated by undersea exploration.  After becoming a success, he founded the National Underwater & Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit company instrumental in discovering over 60 historically significant wreck sites, including the C.S.S. Hunley (the first submarine to sink a ship during battle), and the U-20 (the submarine that sank the Lusitania).  Cussler is a fellow of the Explorers Club of New York, also a member of the Royal Geographic Society in London.  He collects classic autos, some of which are featured on the backs of his book’s dust covers. 
Author Quote   Cussler’s advice to writers: “Study authors who write in your genre, and who are successful…Ernest Hemingway studied and used the style of Tolstoy.  Thomas Wolfe delved into James Joyce.  I used Alistair MacLean when I started out, eventually moving into my own writing style which is now copied by other authors.”