Cussler began writing novels in 1965 and published his first work featuring his continuous series hero, Dirk Pitt, in 1973. His first non-fiction, 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.
Cussler is an internationally recognized authority on shipwrecks and the founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency, (NUMA) a 501C3 non-profit organization (named after the fictional Federal agency in his novels) that dedicates itself to preserving American maritime and naval history. He and his crew of marine experts and NUMA volunteers have discovered more than 60 historically significant underwater wreck sites including the first submarine to sink a ship in battle, the Confederacy's Hunley, and its victim, the Union's Housatonic; the U-20, the U-boat that sank the Lusitania; the Cumberland, which was sunk by the famous ironclad, Merrimack; the renowned Confederate raider Florida; the Navy airship, Akron, the Republic of Texas Navy warship, Zavala, found under a parking lot in Galveston, and the Carpathia, which sank almost six years to-the-day after plucking Titanic's survivors from the sea.
In September, 1998, NUMA - which turns over all artifacts to state and Federal authorities, or donates them to museums and universities - launched its own web site for those wishing more information about maritime history or wishing to make donations to the organization. (www.numa.net).
In addition to being the Chairman of NUMA, Cussler is also 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 underwater exploration.
Cussler's books have been published in more than 40 languages in more than 100 countries. The author lives in Arizona.
Biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA)
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Good to Know
Cussler worked for many years in advertising and was responsible for coming up with Ajax's "White Knight" commercial catchphrase, "It's stronger than dirt."
The Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University of New York, considered Cussler's 1996 nonfiction book, The Sea Hunters, equivalent to a Ph.D. thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in 1997.
Cussler is a fellow in the Explorers Club of New York and the Royal Geographic Society in London, and has been granted the Lowell Thomas Award for outstanding underwater exploration.
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In the spring of 2003, Clive Cussler took some time out to answer some of our questions.
What was the book that most influenced your life -- and why?
None in particular; but I was an avid reader of adventure books as a kid.
What are your ten favorite books of all time?Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Sea-Wolf by Jack London
The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.
Gone with the Wind
The Maltese Falcon
Lawrence of Arabia
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cool Hand Luke
The Sand Pebbles
Progressive jazz, Dixieland, classical, and big band.
What are your favorite books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
The only books I give as gifts are my own. The books I enjoy receiving are nonfiction.
Who are your favorite writers, and what makes their writing special?
Wilbur Smith, Nelson DeMille, Hammond Innes, and John Steinbeck. They have such a way with words.
What are you working on now?
Putting the finishing touches on my next Dirk Pitt® adventure, Trojan Odyssey, to be released in December 2003, and some last-minute editing to Golden Buddha, to be released in October. I am also working on the screenplay for the movie version of Sahara.
How did your career as a writer get started?
I started writing when my wife, Barbara, got a night job for the local police station as a clerk. At night after putting the kids to bed, I had hardly anything to do and no one to talk to. So out of solitude I decided to write a book. I thought it would be fun to produce a little paperback series. The thought of a bestseller never crossed my mind.
Thanks to my advertising and marketing experience, I began researching and analyzing all the series heroes, beginning with Edgar Allan Poe's Inspector Dumas. Next came Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, and all the other fiction detectives and spies: Bulldog Drummond, Sam Spade, Phillip Marlow, Mike Hammer, Matt Helm, and James Bond. I studied them all. I didn't want to compete with already-famous authors and was determined not to write about a detective, secret agent, or undercover investigator or deal in murder mysteries.
Since I enjoyed scuba diving, I decided my hero's adventure would be based on and under water. And thus, the basic concept for Dirk Pitt -- the marine engineer with the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) -- was born. I thought it interesting that almost no authors were writing pure, old-fashioned adventure; it seemed a lost genre. The first book introduced Pitt and most all the characters who appeared in the upcoming novels to follow. The book was Pacific Vortex.
What are some of your favorite pastimes?Searching for ships. I have found more than 60 missing ships and planes throughout the world, including the CSS Hunley -- the first submarine to sink a ship in battle -- which disappeared on February 17, 1864, and was not seen again until we discovered her on May 3, 1995; the Mary Celeste, the first of the so-called "ghost" ships that was found floating off the coast of the Azores with no one on board; the General Slocum, whose sinking caused the worst loss of life in New York City history prior to September 11th; and the Carpathia, the valiant ship that rescued the survivors of the Titanic and then was sunk by a German U-boat during World War I.
Collecting classic cars. I have 87 examples of the coachman's art in a garage outside Denver. Next year I hope to publish a coffee-table book about my car collection.
Collecting antique pistols. I am through with my car collection. Now I am enjoying collecting small, rare firearms.
Slapping Hollywood producers upside the head when necessary.
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|Clive Cussler Home
Good to Know
|In Our Other Stores|
Signed, First Editions by Clive Cussler|
|Pacific Vortex!, 1972|
|Mediterranean Caper, 1973|
|Raise the Titanic!, 1974|
|Vixen 03, 1978|
|Night Probe! (A Dirk Pitt Adventure), 1981|
|Deep Six, 1984|
|Inca Gold, 1994|
|Shock Wave, 1996|
|The Sea Hunters: True Adventures with Famous Shipwrecks, 1996|
|Flood Tide, 1997|
|Dirk Pitt Revealed, 1998|
|Atlantis Found, 1999|
|Serpent: A Novel from the NUMA Files, 1999|
|Blue Gold: A Novel from the NUMA Files, 2000|
|Valhalla Rising, 2001|
|Fire Ice, 2002|
|The Sea Hunters II, 2002|
|White Death: A Kurt Austin Adventure, 2003|
|Golden Buddha, 2003|
|Trojan Odyssey, 2003|
|Lost City: A Kurt Austin Adventure, 2004|
|Black Wind, 2004|
|Sacred Stone, 2004|
|Polar Shift: A Kurt Austin Adventure (NUMA Files), 2005|
|Skeleton Coast: An Oregon Files Novel, 2006|
|The Treasure of Khan, 2006|
|The Chase, 2007|