of the Cusslermen, the Number One Clive Cussler Fan website in
select group of individuals around the world who collect Clive
Cussler books and memorabilia
first person to consider on this page will be the author himself,
· 19 consecutive New York Times fiction best sellers.
· sold more than 125 million books.
· credited with finding numerous missing ships and
planes including the CSS Hunley, the first submarine ever
to sink a ship in battle.
· holds a Doctor of Letters from the State University
of New York for his first non-fiction work.
· is a car collector with more than 85 examples of
classic custom coachwork in his garage outside Denver.
Cussler, is internationally acknowledged as the Grand Master
of the American action/adventure novel. Cussler's books are
published in more than 40 languages in more than 100 countries
with a readership of more than 125 million avid fans.
Clive Cussler is an internationally recognized authority on
shipwrecks and the founder of the National Underwater &
Marine Agency (NUMA(®)), a 501C3 non-profit organization
that dedicates itself to preserving maritime and naval history.
Cussler and his crew of marine experts and NUMA(®) volunteers
have discovered more than 60 historically significant underwater
wreck sites. After verifying their finds, they turn the rights
to the artifacts over to non-profits, universities or government
entities throughout the country and the world.
September 1998, NUMA(®) launched its own web site for
those wishing more information about maritime history or wishing
to make donations to NUMA(®), www.numa.net. In September
1999, Dr. Cussler authorized the formation of NUMA(®)
Australia, a non-profit organization. NUMA(®) South Africa
exists as a for profit operation.
began writing novels in 1965 and published his first work
featuring his continuing series hero, Dirk Pitt(®), in
first non-fiction work, The Sea Hunters, was released in 1996.
The Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University
of New York considered The Sea Hunters in lieu of a Ph.D.
thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in May
1997. It was the first time since the College was founded
in 1874 that such a degree was bestowed.
is Chairman of NUMA(®) and a fellow in both the Explorers
Club of New York and the Royal Geographic Society in London.
He has been honored with the Lowell Thomas Award for outstanding
up in Alhambra, CA, Cussler attended Pasadena City College
for two years, then enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean
War and served as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer
in the Military Air Transport Service.
discharge, he became a copywriter and later creative director
of two of the nation's leading ad agencies. He wrote and produced
radio and television commercials in Hollywood that won numerous
international awards including an award at the prestigious
Cannes Film Festival.
recently optioned all 14 of his novels featuring Dirk Pitt(®)
to Crusader Entertainment with script and casting approval,
Variety's "Write Stuff" reported. SAHARA is now
in development with Paramount. Cussler's non-fiction bestseller
The Sea Hunters, about shipwrecks, is being developed by Eco-Nova
Productions into a 19-episode television series, to air on
the National Geographic channel in the U.S., with Cussler
himself introducing each episode.
noted collector of classic automobiles, Cussler owns more
than 85 of the finest examples of classic 30s and 40s coachwork
and 50s convertibles to be found anywhere. They are garaged
near Golden, CO. Cussler's wife, Barbara Knight, recently
passed away. They have three children and two grandchildren.
Cussler divides his time between the mountains of Colorado
and the deserts of Arizona.
Black Wind (with Dirk Cussler)
· Valhalla Rising
· Atlantis Found
· Flood Tide
· Shock Wave
· Inca Gold
· Deep Six
· Pacific Vortex!
· Night Probe!
· Vixen O3
· Raise the Titanic!
· Mediterranean Caper
FICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER WITH PAUL KEMPRECOS
· Lost City
· White Death
· Fire Ice
· Blue Gold
NONFICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND CRAIG DIRGO
· The Sea Hunters II
· Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed
· The Sea Hunters
FICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND CRAIG DIRGO
· Sacred Stone
· Golden Buddha
Cussler, famous for his adventure novels featuring Dirk Pitt,
spoke to us from his Arizona home about sequels, car collections
seafaring adventurer, Cussler has been at the forefront of
numerous maritime discoveries, some of which he wrote about
in his nonfiction book, "The Sea Hunters: True Adventures
with Famous Shipwrecks" (co-written with Craig Dirgo).
Interestingly, Cussler and his wife chose a landlocked existence,
spending most of their time in Arizona, with another residence
in Colorado. However, he said he spends "a couple of
months out of the year looking for shipwrecks."
as Alfred Hitchcock made cameo appearances in his films, Cussler
"appears" in his novels. He once introduced Dirk
Pitt, his "hero," to an antique car collector named
"Clive Cussler." That character still appears occasionally
in the Pitt novels and the author said he received over 300
positive fan letters the first time his fictional self appeared
was "in advertising" until 1975, when his breakthrough
Dirk Pitt novel, "Raise the Titanic" was published.
Pitt's most recent outing was in "Atlantis Found."
There is also a spin-off series chronicling adventures from
"The NUMA Files." For audiophiles new to Cussler's
work, NUMA stands for the National Underwater and Marine Agency,
which is much like the CIA of the marine world. In another
example of how his life mirrors his art, Cussler helped to
found a real-life NUMA, which is a not-for-profit agency that
O'Gorman: I take it that Dirk Pitt is your alter ego.
Cussler: Oh, I suppose, in a sense. I always joke that when
Pitt and I started out together we were both 36. Now he's
knocking a little over 40 and I'm 68, so it ain't fair. I
gave him my height, 6'3", and green eyes, although his
are much greener than mine. We had the same weight at the
time, 185. He's still that and I've gone up to 200. And he
certainly scores better with the girls than I ever did.
Well, haven't you been married for a long time?
Yeah, it's going on 45 years.
In some ways I find that Pitt stops just shy of being a superhero.
No, he's human. He gets beat up and shot up, but he does in
the villain at the end. He's the kind of a guy that can take
an elegant lady to a nice gourmet restaurant and order the
right wine and then the next day he's down at the saloon slopping
beer with the boys and watching football. So he's not a James
Bond, he's more of an all-American type, a hero.
Why did you give him a sidekick with Al Giordino?
I wanted to be different. All the rest of them are single
heroes and I thought this way Pitt and Giordino could play
off each other. And Giordino is the only one in the books
who's taken from a real character, an old Air Force buddy
of mine whose name is Al Giordino. He's still around. He's
a retired stone mason in Florida.
Does this guy chew nails for breakfast?
Cussler: No, he was just fun. I described him in the book
as 5'4," broad shoulders, a beefy little Italian with
a great sardonic wit.
Did you grow up reading graphic novels about superheroes?
Your writing is obviously more fleshed out than a graphic
novel, but it calls to mind that genre.
Oh, sure. I grew up with all the comic books like Dr. Savage,
Superman, Batman, all of them. And then there were the movies,
the older movies, the black and whites. There were more big
heroes then, particularly in westerns. And then there were
the more down to earth detective types. They were more human,
I think, in those days than they are today.
What do you mean?
Well, you take all the young actors today under the age of
30 and they all look like they came out of a cookie cutter.
There's nothing really distinguished about any of them. Where's
the Glenn Fords, the Jimmy Stewarts, the Gary Coopers, the
John Waynes, the Humphrey Bogarts, the Jimmy Cagneys? None
of them have a distinctive voice. Other than the Jack Nicholson
and one or two others, you don't have the super heroes around
like you used to.
You've written 15 Dirk Pitt novels and a couple of others.
Don't you run out of ideas?
It's getting harder, believe me. With the last book I'm really
struggling because I use about six plots in every book. It's
not like one single plot, so the well's starting to run dry.
you've ever followed any author - you've had favorites, I'm
sure - you always know when they reach their peak. There's
only so much in you. James A. Michener, for example. I remember
when I read "Centennial," I had to go back and read
"Hawaii" and "The Source" and I knew he
was starting to lose it. And Ian Fleming. I remember when
I read "The Man with a Golden Gun" and I knew he'd
lost it. So, I would say "Atlantis Found" is probably
Cussler's peak. From now on it's downhill.
You never know. You may start a new series and find all new
Well, I'm working on two (the Pitt books and its spin-off,
the NUMA Files series). And then they want me to come up with
another one that is a spin-off on a few chapters from a book
where I had these mercenaries with this old derelict ship.
It was loaded with missiles and it could do 50 knots and had
big engines. It was run like a corporation; the captain was
the chairman of the board. They want to take this concept
of this ship and have it going around the world, getting into
mischief. They also condense some of the books for juvenile
You have an empire!
And they still want me to do another sequel to my shipwreck
book, "The Sea Hunters: True Adventures with Famous Shipwrecks."
You write the NUMA Files books with a partner. Does that mean
you come up with the parameters of the story and then someone
else fills it in?
Yeah, Paul Kemprecos, in this case. I picked him because he
did a neat little detective series -- a Greek detective in
Cape Cod ("Bluefin Blues" and "Feeding Frenzy").
Everything was based in and around water; the guy was a diver.
I had to have somebody help write it; I couldn't do two books
at the same time. So I picked Paul, and he's done a very competent
How do you feel about having someone else fleshing out your
Oh, it doesn't bother me. He's actually making up most of
his own words. I edit it.
Are you tired of Dirk Pitt? Would you like to retire him?
I think he's tired, I'm not. He's getting a little long in
the tooth. But, you know, look at James Bond. He's still going;
he's never aged. I've talked about maybe having a long lost
son show up, but everybody from the editors to the agent nix
that. And if I died tomorrow they'd get somebody to keep the
Pitt series going, I'm sure.
You think so?
Oh, it's too profitable for the publisher. I can't believe
they'd just drop it.
How do you feel about that?
Oh, I don't mind. The kids would get the money. Not that it
would be successful, because John E. Gardner kept the James
Bond series going and it never really sold well.
Is there really a NUMA?
Cussler:Yes, Virginia, there really is. I was looking for
the John Paul Jones ship in 1978, which I have yet to find,
by the way. It's in the North Sea. There was an attorney who
was one of the volunteers on board. He suggested that since
I was spending money on this I really should incorporate as
a not-for-profit foundation, since it was more or less a donation
because we were trying to preserve maritime history. That's
when we formed NUMA.
When was that?
Oh, 1979. All the trustees thought it would be great fun to
call it after the one out of the book, NUMA. I disagreed,
but they outvoted me.
Your life and your art seem to blur a lot. Does that get a
Oh, no, because I'm pretty common.
You're telling me you're normal enough so that it doesn't
pretty much. I wouldn't say my wife and I are reclusive, but
we don't do much. We're busy, but we're not out in the social
circles. Even when I go on a shipwreck and we make a big discovery,
you rarely hear about it because unlike Bob Ballard (who discovered
the Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck), I don't stand
up in front of six TV cameras.
He's probably looking for more funding than you are, though.
Well that's true. Of course, I gave up on the funding. I just
fund it out of my book royalties.
Your other hobby is collecting cars. How many do you have?
Oh, I guess pushing 90.
Where does one put 90 cars?
In a warehouse. I've got a warehouse outside of Denver where
I keep the collection. There's two fellows in front of it
who have a restoration shop, so I give it to them rent free
and then they maintain the collection for me. Then if I want
a car restored they'll do mine as well as others.
Do you get much use out of the cars?
Not any more. I used to live there and was down to the shop
about three or four times a week, but now I only see them
about three or four times a year. Right now it's an investment.
Rather than doing the stock market, I bought old cars. It's
more fun and I know more about it. I don't know zip about
the stock market.
Tell me about the women in your books, because they are more
than just decoration.
That's right, no bimbos. They're all intelligent and nice
looking. Women always ask me how I know so much about fashion
- because I always describe what they wear. I just take it
out of Vogue and the rest of the fashion magazines that my
wife subscribes to.
Do you have daughters?
Cussler: Yes, I have two daughters (and one son).
O'Gorman: When I heard "Atlantis Found" I assumed
you have daughters, because the women are there for more than
Cussler: Well, I don't have any sex in my books. And no four-letter
words, because when I started writing my kids were quite young.
I thought, "Someday they're going to read these books."
As a result I get many letters from schoolteachers and mothers
who couldn't get their children or students to read. They
start them, generally, with "Raise the Titanic"
and then they say, "They've read all your books and now
they're reading everything in sight."
didn't feel it was necessary. The sex slows the action down.
They never learned that in the movies.
Speaking of movies, "Raise the Titanic" was made
into one in 1980. Has there ever been talk about a Dirk Pitt
All the time, but I took the books off the market because
they made such a mess of it ("Raise the Titanic").
I don't care that they messed up the book, but the direction
was terrible, the screenwriting was abominable, even the editing
was awful. So I just never sold to Hollywood again.
agent and I laugh because all the actors from (Sylvester)
Stallone to (Bruce) Willis to (Richard) Chamberlain to Wesley
Snipes to Christopher Reeves, before he fell off the horse,
they all want to play Dirk Pitt. In fact, Matthew McConaughey
has been to the house three times. But I'm still leery. Let's
say that they produce and make another mediocre nothing, a
box office bomb. Well, I'm dead; they'll never sell to the
movies again. So it's a risk. Look at Wilbur Smith, a great
South African writer who had three terrible movies in a row
made from his books and it killed him in the American market.
("Gold," "The Kingfish Caper" and "Shout
at the Devil" are three of Smith's novels that have been
adapted for film.) He's unknown over here now. He used to
hit the bestseller list all the time, and he's still a great
writer. We had to climb back after "Raise the Titanic."
What about audiobooks? Do you ever listen to them?
No, because I listen to classical stuff and chamber music
when I'm out on the road. I like to relax when I'm driving.
My wife took one with us when we drove from Arizona to Colorado.
We listened to it for about half an hour and then finally
I said, "That's it, I know how it all comes out. I know
the ending. The butler did it."
Okay then, what do you read?
Cute story. Years ago I had lunch with James Michener when
he was writing "Centennial." I said, "Have
you read any good book lately, Jim?" He laughed and he
said, "I don't read." He meant that when you're
working on a book you're researching. About the only books
I have time to read are the review copies or manuscripts of
a first-time author. If he's done a competent job I'll give
him a quote or an endorsement.
What are you working on next?
Oh, I'm working on another one with Pitt. I've got one more
to do under the contract.
O'Gorman: Do you have a title?
Not yet. In fact, on the title page in the word processor
it just says "new book."
Is Clive Cussler your real name?
I assumed it was a pen name.
Cussler: Everybody thinks that. When I was born my mother
liked the name because she liked a British actor whose name
was Clive Brook, and my dad's name was Cussler. He came from
Germany. So, it's real. And my son's name is Dirk. He was
six months old when I started writing, so I just used his
name for fun.
Inherit the word
Dirk Cussler takes
over his dad's literary series
Scott Craven The
Nov. 27, 2004 12:00 AM
Dirk Cussler remembers being curled up in bed and hearing
the tap-tap-tapping of his father's typewriter, the rhythmic
clicks waking him up and lulling him back to sleep.
A few feet away, hunched over a small desk, Clive Cussler
concocted plots that would change the course of the Cusslers'
lives. Four-year-old Dirk knew nothing of the fictional hero
(who shared the youngster's first name) who would become as
much a part of the family as his mother and two sisters.
Nor could he see his part in all of it, a role he wouldn't
assume for another 40 years when the story took twists and
turns that not even his father expected.
And though the ending has yet to be written, it will no doubt
be every bit as satisfying as the ending of any Dirk Pitt
novel, where the good guy overcomes all and the only question
left is where the next adventure will lead.
On Tuesday, Clive Cussler fans will descend upon bookstores
to nab copies of Black Wind, the 73-year-old Paradise Valley
author's latest sea-based thriller.
Cussler's name will emblazon the cover. In small print below
it will be the name of Clive's only son. The release marks
the first step in what will be a handoff of the popular franchise
from one generation to the next.
It was the one family heirloom that 43-year-old Dirk never
thought he'd inherit.
Dirk Cussler had never been much of a writer. He wrote the
occasional letter as well as required essays in high school
and college (he graduated from Arizona State before obtaining
his MBA from the University of California-Berkeley). When
a teacher praised his stories in a high school creative writing
class, he didn't give it a second thought.
But Dirk was a reader, primarily of non-fiction. Of course
he read his father's Dirk Pitt adventures, at first out of
obligation. But the 12-year-old enjoyed his father's first
novel The Mediterranean Caper (Berkley Publishing Group, 2004,
$7.99 paperback) when the book was published in 1973, eight
years after it had been written.
Dirk continued to read the Pitt series, first as one of its
few fans (his dad's first two books sold barely into the thousands)
and then as one of the many (there are now an estimated 90
million Cussler readers worldwide, a number steadily growing
since the author's breakout hit Raise the Titanic! (Berkley
Publishing Group, 2004, $7.99 paperback) in 1975. At some
point - even Dirk isn't sure when this happened - he got to
know Pitt as well as his father did.That's as far as his interest
went. He wanted to work with numbers and became an accountant.
"I was very analytical," Dirk said. "Math
appealed to me more than anything else."
That changed in 2001 when Dirk was laid off by Motorola.
He decided it was time to do something different and embarked
on writing a book - non-fiction, of course. He would abandon
the project when his dad made him a better offer.
At the same time, Clive was struggling with his own career.
As much as he loved to write, the then-70-year-old thought
his Pitt stories were running on empty. Though sales proved
that Cussler's fans still loved the series, Clive struggled
with keeping it fresh. Dirk Pitt began to age, and thus his
character evolved. He had a family, most notably Dirk Pitt
Jr. He began to suffer the aches and pains that came with
Clive's biggest challenge was coming up with yet another
diabolical plan his hero could thwart.
"I was running out of stuff," he said. "Not
that writing has ever been a labor of love, but I enjoyed
it. Now it was beginning to feel like a job."
The former adman knew the importance of the Dirk Pitt franchise.
While Clive enjoyed collaborating with authors on a handful
of series, he jealously guarded Pitt.
Peter Lampack, Clive's agent for more than 30 years, sensed
"How he would step back (from the Pitt franchise) was
often a topic of discussion," Lampack said. "He
wanted to do other things with the life that remained in front
But as in a Dirk Pitt novel, our hero couldn't just retire,
abandoning the next mission for R and R on a pristine tropical
And like a Dirk Pitt novel, the answer occurred to him in
the nick of time.
To Dirk, the idea came out of nowhere. Over lunch about a
year and a half ago, his dad simply said, "Why don't
you take a shot at Dirk Pitt?"
Father and son sat across from one another in Clive's studio,
a long, narrow room crammed with books, looking like a Hollywood
set. Together, they hashed out a plot.
Dirk planted the seeds (World War II Japanese sub carrying
deadly cargo) and over the next few hours the framework took
shape, just like the days gone by when the two worked to restore
When the basic outline was finished, Dirk began work on the
prologue. He toiled in a public library, writing the draft
He feared his father would be too easy on him.
Clive had his own fears. He was ready to pass the Pitt torch,
but was his son ready to take it?
After a few weeks of research and writing, Dirk, a first-time
novelist with no formal training, handed his father the completed
Lampack saw no reason to be optimistic.
Clive, however, had no expectations. So he wasn't all that
surprised when, paging through Dirk's manuscript, he felt
like he was reading an early Clive Cussler.
"As soon as I put it down, I knew this was going to
work," Clive said.
Clive's editor, Neil Nyren, was hesitant about the collaboration.
The question wasn't, "Will they accept another author?"
he said. The question was, "Would they accept a subpar
Those concerns were assuaged when Nyren and Clive talked
shortly after Dirk turned in the prologue.
"My thought was that if Clive was satisfied, I would
be satisfied," Nyren said. "He is as much a taskmaster
as anyone I know. If he said this was going to be good, I
could trust him."
Dirk devoted himself to the book. He turned in 100 pages
every two or three months, rewriting at his father's suggestions.
Dirk even surprised himself at how well he knew Pitt. Though
this would be the first Cussler novel to focus on the son,
Pitt Jr., thus marking a passing of the torch on two levels.
Those in the publishing industry who have read the book say
it's a seamless transition. They can't tell Dirk's writing
from Clive's, nor can they explain it.
"Maybe it's because Dirk Pitt was such an integrated
part of his (Dirk's) environment," Lampack said. "Honestly,
it's a mystery."
Dirk is just as mystified. The words, he said, just seemed
to be there.
He realizes how fortunate he is to be Clive Cussler's son,
as well as how unfortunate he is (from a writing viewpoint)
to be Clive Cussler's son.
"I feel like I've won the lottery," Dirk said.
"I know there are a lot of struggling writers out there
with a lot more talent than I have. But it's a double-edged
sword. There's a pressure to satisfy this big fan base that
doesn't want Clive Cussler to disappear."
But Clive will disappear, at least from the Dirk Pitt franchise.
The plans are to collaborate on at least one more book (with
each name being of equal size on the cover) and then have
Dirk take it over.
That will give Clive time to finish other projects dear to
his heart, like a coffee-table book on the dozens of collectible
cars he owns and a children's book inspired by Ian Fleming's
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale,has
ordered more than 700 copies of Black Wind, one of the largest
orders of the year. She's already received more than 300 pre-orders,
many from members of an online forum dedicated to Cussler.
"They know of Dirk's involvement and are very excited
to read the book," Peters said. "I expect sales
to be higher than Clive's last book, partly because of the
curiosity factor, but mostly because it reads just like a
Cussler. I can't tell the difference."
Next week, the Cusslers embark on a nationwide book
tour where fans will meet the future of the Pitt franchise.
Father and son will sign countless copies, the first time
they've spent so much time together since Dirk moved out of
the family home more than two decades ago.
When they return, they'll get started on the next book.
"I'm sure Dirk Sr. will be back, and
maybe have a much bigger part," Dirk said. "But
I'm really not sure at this point how it will turn out."
While I've spent weeks typing
and compiling information on the Characters in the books,
I have found a wonderful site with the information already
there, so rather than "reinvent the wheel", I refer
you to "The World of Dirk Pitt" :
Clink on this
2/2/04 Carole Bartholomeaux Resigns:
Clive's Publicist: Carole Bartholomeaux After more than
18 years as the team responsible for all of the national and
international public relations and marketing for Clive Cusslers
Dirk Pitt ® adventures, BARTHOLOMEAUX/Public Relations
announced today that they have resigned the account with the
We enjoyed a wonderful relationship these many years.
Working with Clive Cussler was extremely gratifying, challenging
and exhilarating, Bartholomeaux explained. Because
Clives children wish to be more involved in the day
to day running of what has become a multi million dollar business
operation, it is simply time for B/PR to step aside.
The TROJAN ODYSSEY Book Tour in November and December,
2003 that took Clive and me to 14 cities in 16 days was grueling
for both of us but the thousands of fans who lined up to meet
their hero made it all worthwhile. After much consideration,
the B/PR Team made the decision to leave their famous client
at a high point, Bartholomeaux concluded.
Carole V. Bartholomeaux
BARTHOLOMEAUX/Public Relations, Lobbying, Advertising, Marketing,
Corporate Consulting and more.
Creating marvelous images for our wonderful clients!
Bartholomeaux / Public Relations, Inc. * 13835 N. Tatum Blvd.
Phoenix, Arizona 85032-5582
Phone: 602 604-0321 * Fax: 602 604-0319
602 404-8018 www.b-pr.com
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