Clive Eric Cussler is an American author and marine archaeologist.
Biography EditClive Cussler was born in Aurora, Illinois on July 15, 1931 and grew up in Alhambra, California. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout when he was 14. He attended Pasadena City College for two years and then enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War. During his service in the Air Force, he was promoted to Sergeant and worked as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer for the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).
Clive Cussler married Barbara Knight in 1955, and they remained married for nearly fifty years until her death in 2003.Together they had three children, Teri, Dirk and Dayna who have given him four grandchildren.
After his discharge from the military, Cussler went to work in the advertising industry, first as a copywriter and later as a creative director for two of the nation's most successful advertising agencies. As part of his duties Cussler produced radio and television commercials, many of which won international awards including an award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.
Following the publication in 1996 of Cussler's first nonfiction work, The Sea Hunters, he was awarded a Doctor of Letters degree in 1997 by the Board of Governors of the State University of New York Maritime College who accepted the work in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis. This was the first time in the college's 123-year history that such a degree had been awarded.
Cussler is a member of the Explorers Club of New York, the Royal Geographic Society in London, and the American Society of Oceanographers.
Clive Cussler began writing in 1965 when his wife took a job working nights for the local police department where they lived in California. After making dinner for the kids and putting them to bed he had no one to talk to and nothing to do so he decided to start writing. His most famous creation is marine engineer, government agent and adventurer Dirk Pitt. The Dirk Pitt novels frequently take on an alternative history perspective, such as "what if Atlantis was real?", or "what if Abraham Lincoln wasn't assassinated, but was kidnapped?"
The first two Pitt novels, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg, were relatively conventional maritime thrillers. The third, Raise the Titanic!, made Cussler's reputation and established the pattern that subsequent Pitt novels would follow: A blend of high adventure and high technology, generally involving megalomaniacal villains, lost ships, beautiful women, and sunken treasure.
In 1999 Cussler wrote thriller that was not about Pitt. It was co-authored with Paul Kemprecos and debuted Kurt Austin another Numa employee. This also spawned a series. However some critics say Austin is just a less interesting copy of Pitt.
In the 1998 Dirk Pitt book Flood Tide Cussler introduced Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon. The are a group of mercenaries that Numa hires. Cussler then decided to give them their own series, The Oregon Files. The First two books were co-written with Craig Dirgo and the rest of the series was co-written with Jack Du Brul.
Cussler's novels, like those of Michael Crichton, are examples of techno-thrillers that do not use military plots and settings. Where Crichton strives for scrupulous realism, however, Cussler prefers fantastic spectacles and outlandish plot devices. The Pitt novels, in particular, have the anything-goes quality of the James Bond or Indiana Jones movies, while also sometimes borrowing from Alistair MacLean's novels. Pitt himself is a three-dimensional, larger-than-life hero reminiscent of Doc Savage and other characters from pulp magazines.
Clive Cussler has had more than seventeen consecutive titles reach The New York Times' fiction best-seller list. Life as undersea explorerAs an underwater explorer, Cussler has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites and has written non-fiction books about his findings. He is also the founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit organization with the same name as the fictional government agency that employs Dirk Pitt. Cussler owns a large collection of classic cars, several of which (driven by Pitt) appear in his novels.
Cussler's web site claims that NUMA discovered, among other shipwrecks, the Confederate submarine Hunley. This claim is disputed by underwater archaeologist E. Lee Spence who first reported finding it in 1970 and there is a collection of evidence supporting Spence on www.ShipWrecks.com. However, both claims appear to have elements of truth. Spence described finding the partially exposed wreck of the Hunley in 1970, but claimed it had been reburied by shifting sands before he returned to photograph it. Spence claims he relocated it with a magnetometer at various times in the 1970s but it was always buried and without the proper permits was unable to do any excavation on the site. The first expedition to dig into the site and bring back videographic evidence was the 1994/1995 SCIAA/NUMA H.L. Hunley expedition, directed by underwater archaeologist Dr. Mark M. Newell. That was largely financed by Cussler, thus his claim to have discovered it. Based on sworn statements by Dr. Newell, that expedition relied, at least to some extent, on Spence's maps of his earlier work. The dive team that took the video was led by diver &action=edit&redlink=1 Ralph Wilbanks who is on NUMA's Board of Directors.
In what started as a joke in the novel Dragon that Cussler expected his editor to remove, he now often writes himself into his books; at first as simple cameos, but later as something of a deus ex machina, providing the novel's protagonists with an essential bit of assistance or information.
A regular name in Cussler novels was Leigh Hunt. Seventeen books have had a character named Hunt appear in the opening prologues, usually dying. In the introduction to "Arctic Drift," Cussler says there was a real Leigh Hunt who died in 2007 and the novel is dedicated to him.
Important finds by Cussler's NUMA include:
- The Carpathia, The ship famed for being the first to come to the aid of Titanic survivors.
- The Mary Celeste, The famed ghost ship that was found abandoned with cargo intact.
- The Manassas, The first ironclad of the civil war, formerly the icebreaker Enoch Train.
- The first attempt to film one of Cussler's novels—Raise The Titanic! (1980)—was a critical and commercial failure. Its failure was widely attributed to a weak script, wooden acting, poor special effects and the casting of Richard Jordan as Pitt.
- Paramount Pictures released Sahara on April 8, 2005, starring Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt, Steve Zahn as Al Giordino, William H. Macy as Admiral Sandecker, and Penelope Cruz as Eva Rojas. Again the film was a box-office failure, which Cussler blamed on the film not staying true to his storyline. Even before the film was completed, Cussler and &action=edit&redlink=1 Crusader Entertainment (the film's producers) filed lawsuits against each other in a dispute over the film departing too severely from the novel.
In May 2007, the trial jury delivered a mixed verdict, ordering Cussler to pay Crusader $5 million (they were seeking $115 million) for making derogatory comments about the film and encouraging his readers to boycott it. The jury suggested Crusader pay Cussler $8.5 million for second-picture rights to another book, but left that decision to Judge John Shook since the option was never exercised. Cussler's attorney indicated that he would end up with $3.5 million after paying Crusader the $5 million previously ordered if the Judge rules in his favor. If not, Cussler could be further sued by Crusader for lawyer fees. Some news accounts have suggested that both sides may have ended up spending more on legal costs than they were awarded, but each side would be liable for the other's fees depending on the Judge's ruling. On January 8, 2008, Judge John Shook denied Cussler's claim for the $8.5 million, making the author solely liable to Crusader for $5 million for breach of contract.
On 10 March 2009 Judge John P. Shook ordered Clive Cussler to pay $13.9 million in legal fees to the production company that turned his novel "Sahara" into a motion picture. In his ruling, Judge Shook agreed with lawyers for Crusader Entertainment that an original contract between the two parties called for an award of legal fees if either side breached. "The issue boils down to whether the fees requested are reasonable and necessary," Shook said. He concluded that they were. Cussler sued Crusader in 2004, claiming the company reneged on a contract that gave him approval rights over the film's screenplay,when,in fact, he only had those rights until a director was hired. Crusader, which is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, countersued, accusing Cussler of duping it into adapting his book into a film based on an inflated number of novels sold. Jurors,without hesitation, ruled in May 2007 in favor of the production company. On July 27, 2009, Cussler issued a final check to Crusader which totals the payback to $20 million to the wronged production company. It is highly unlikely an appeal, which Cussler said he has filed, will be successful at getting a reversal.