Author Interviews

Clive Cussler talks to World of Books about his novels, his underwater adventures and his new novel

Clive Cussler, the American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist, was born 15th July 1931 in Aurora, Illinois, and grew up in Alhambra, California. After attending Pasadena City College, Clive enlisted in the United States Air Force and served during the Korean war, working as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer for the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). Upon leaving Clive worked as a copywriter and a creative director for two advertising agencies. It was not until 1965 that Clive began to write; his first novel was not published until 1973, but it marked the beginning of his most famous character’s journey- the marine engineer, government agent and adventurer, Dirk Pitt.

Since then Clive’s books have been appeared in the New York Times Bestseller list 45 times, they have been published in over 40 languages in more than 100 countries, and have an ever increasing readership of 125 million fans. As a noted collector of classic cars, Clive owns over 100 examples of custom coachwork and 50’s convertibles. Clive divides his time between the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of Arizona.

Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler

Hi Clive!

Firstly, thank you for letting us ask you some questions today, as one of our most popular authors, World of Books is thrilled to be able to chat to you for our blog.

Q: OK, so we’ll get stuck straight in there Clive! What has been the most interesting feedback you’ve had about your books?

– That men as well as women enjoy adventure reading, and so I try to give it to them. They all love Dirk Pitt. Men want to be like him. Women would like him as a husband.

Q: What are your three biggest pet peeves?

– Politicians, Religious fanatics, and closed minds.

Q: World of Books is sure that the majority of your fans will be aware that you are the founder and the chairman of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). The agency is responsible for finding more than sixty shipwrecks across the world. You are also a fellow of the Explorers Club of New York, the Royal Geographic Society in London and the American Society of Oceanographers. Like Dirk Pitt, you obviously enjoy exploring and discovering new things, to what extent do you find material for your writing through these commitments?

Not much really. My travels and shipwreck searches at sea give me backgrounds but no specific storyline.

Q: If you could explore anywhere in the world (where you haven’t already of course)- where would it be? And what would you hope to find there?

I’d like to explore from 500 to 20,000 feet under the sea. I’d hope to find historical shipwrecks and historical artefacts down there, things that hadn’t been discovered before.

Q: Your latest novel, The Race, was released in October 2011. The story is set in the time of air travel’s infancy- a newspaper editor is offering a substantial reward for the first person to fly across America in less than 50 days. When “intrepid detective Isaac Bell” arrives, he meets Josephine Frost who is being sponsored to fly the race. However, her husband, Harry Frost, who Isaac has dealt with before (and lost), has just murdered her lover, attempted to kill her and is now on the run, rendering him a threat to Josephine, and even the newspaper editor who set up the competition. So, for those of us who haven’t read The Race yet, what more can you tell us about it?

Whilst writing this novel, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the novelist Justin Scott (please see Justin’s site for more information on his writing), who taught me more about the history of early flight. I hope readers expect The Race to be a fascinating, spellbinding adventure. It was truly a great enjoyment for me to be able to write about a detective who lives just after the turn of the century as I don’t think anybody else is actually doing it.

Q: As a joke in your novel Dragon, you wrote yourself in as a character, but, much to the delight of your fans, this has become a tradition in your fictional work – particularly in the Pitt adventures (also try and spot Clive in Lost Empire and Spartan Gold of his Fargo Files series). Your role often aids the story by providing crucial information to the main characters of the novel. Do you find it peculiar becoming a part of the world you are creating? Do you find it harder to shake off the story and the characters as a result?

– Originally I typed my name into a manuscript called Dragon. I was going to take it out since it was only a passing meeting between Dirk Pitt and me. But I decided to leave it in purely as a humorous addition. I didn’t expect 600 letters telling me how much the readers enjoyed it! I have no problem with it as far as the story goes, I’m just a minor character in the plot.

Q: A couple of your books have been made into films (check out Raise The Titanic!- 1980, and Sahara- 2005, which starred Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt and Penélope Cruz as Eva Rojas). How does it feel seeing your books on the big screen?

Terrible! The films aren’t what I wrote, they are purely Hollywood creations that never follow the book.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Q: What three things would be on the top of your Bucket List?

Find a lost revolutionary shipwreck in the North Sea, see Angkor Wat and die broke.

Q: And lastly! Here at World of Books we are dedicated to providing good-quality second-hand books to the public.  In a world with an ever-growing digital media base, and increasing environmental concerns, do you believe in the importance of giving each physical book the chance of a new home?

That goes without saying. There can be no finer thought then passing on books, like skipping rocks on a pond.

World of Books highly recommends that you take a look at Clive’s website, for more information on his novels and other writing. And as always, make sure you check out the World of Books site to see what Clive Cussler books we have available today.

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