Pretty cool, eh?
Want to see ‘em? Heck, want to order ‘em? Just click the links:
Pretty cool, eh?
Want to see ‘em? Heck, want to order ‘em? Just click the links:
Clive Cussler passed away on February 24, 2020.
How do you say good-bye and thank you to a writer who has been one of your major influences?
Born one year after the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — the creator of Sherlock Holmes and author of The Lost World — Cussler not only carried the banner of adventure literature into the twenty-first century, garnering the title The Grand Master of Adventure along the way, he created one of the most popular and influential series heroes of the past fifty years, Dirk Pitt.
Most publishers considered the adventure genre to be passé in the sixties, but where the literati saw stagnation, Cussler saw opportunity. Cussler was an award-winning advertising copywriter — you can thank him in part for The Ajax White Knight — who did his research after he decided to seriously turn his hand to writing, and instead of being deterred upon discovering that almost no one was producing the kind of classic old fashion adventures he enjoyed reading as a boy, he decided that he had the field to himself.
It is one thing to decide you want to write a novel or series and quite another to follow though, much less get your work published, but Cussler did all that and more.
I discovered Cussler and Pitt in Raise the Titanic! (1976), arguably the greatest adventure novel of the second half of the twentieth century and the first in a string of bestsellers Cussler authored or co-authored over the next forty years. (Two earlier and less successful Pitt adventures, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg, were published in 1973 and 1975, and the first Pitt novel, Pacific Vortex, written in 1965, was not published until 1983.) As a sixteen-year-old tyro I devoured the book’s no-nonsense yet devil-may-care writing, got swept up in its unabashed imagination, and was captivated by its decent but dangerous protagonist. It spoke to me and I wasted no time trying (and failing) to write my own Cussleresque novel, but Clive Cussler had left his mark, and that influence is evident in almost everything I have written since.
As the years passed and I developed as a writer, I learned something more from Cussler. Research and his marketing acumen were invaluable tools when it came to getting his novels published and then promoting them, but the trait that set him (and most great popular genre writers) apart was his innate sense of what people liked to read. Maybe because of this Cussler often downplayed his writing skills in interviews, preferring instead to emphasize that he was an entertainer who took pride in giving his reader’s their money’s worth. I brought this up in a list of questions I sent him in 2009 while working on The Clive Cussler Adventures: A Critical Review (2014) and asked if he did not also take pride in the quality of his plots and characters. Cussler admitted, “Yes, that I do. The fact that so many people and children have enjoyed my books and been influenced by them is a great source of satisfaction and joy.” The quality and popularity of Cussler’s novels now stand as testaments to how much he cared and how hard he worked as a writer, something I found out the first time I spoke with him.
In 1989 I wrote Cussler to inquire about adapting his Pitt adventures into the comics medium. He was open to the idea and at one point mailed me a letter asking if I would telephone him to discuss the topic. I called the same morning I received his letter and happened to catch Cussler while he was in the middle of working on his tenth Pitt novel Dragon (1990). At first Cussler sounded dazed and did not recall my name or why I was calling — which didn’t make me nervous at all 😉 — but after a few moments he remembered and apologized, explaining that when he was really into writing a scene he forgot about everything else going on around him. There is a term for this: creative ferment, and I can tell you firsthand that it is not something you experience unless you are putting everything you have into your work.
Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!, The Scorpion) once wrote that fellow comics writer-artist Mike Grell (The Warlord, Jon Sable Freelance) did not just write exciting action stories, he enjoyed living many of the same types of adventure his heroes did, and the same could be said for Cussler. In 2011 an eighty-year-old Cussler, himself an Air Force veteran, visited troops in Afghanistan as part of a USO-sponsored group of popular authors in cooperation with the International Thriller Writers. A lifelong marine and maritime history enthusiast, Cussler founded the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving maritime history through the survey and recovery of shipwreck artifacts. Cussler was also a fellow of the Explorers Club of New York and Royal Geographic Society in London, and in 1997 was awarded a Doctor of Letters from the Martime College of the State University of New York.
Clive Cussler lived the life he wanted to live. How many of us can say that? How many of even have the courage to try? Cussler also wrote the kind of stories he wanted to write and in the process delighted millions of readers like me who cannot get enough of his recurring travel-guide thrills, cliffhangers, narrow escapes, and last-second rescues mixed in with nautical settings, evil conspiracies, and search for lost treasure. Noted story consultant Robert McKee once complained that the 1992 novel Sahara has “something unbelievable happening every two minutes,” never appreciating that is the point.
The passing of Clive Cussler is sorrowful, made even more so as the news comes when I am staring down the barrel of turning sixty. I had already been wondering where all the time has gone and how much things have changed, and knowing there is no more Cussler and there will soon be no more new Cussler novels has only augmented the situation. For what it is worth, though, I find some solace in remembering one of the best scenes from the great film Rocky Balboa (2006) where the sexagenarian title character says, “You know the older I get the more things I’ve got to leave behind. That’s life.”
Yes, it is. That is life. So, in the end, the only thing to do is to just say it.
Good-bye, Mr. Cussler, and thank you.
Without any intention on my part 2019 turned into the Year of the Short Story, a medium I generally avoid, and it appears this trend will continue at least into 2020 with a Sherlock Holmes pastiche and a Holmes-meets-Feril Nightlinger mash-up on slate to appear in two anthologies before the summer. I am also working on yet another Holmes pastiche that may see publication before the end of this year.
What can I say? I’ve got a Jones for Holmes.
The Holmes-Nightlinger story “The Adventure of the Ambitious Task” will appear in Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives from Belanger Books early this year. The Holmes pastiche “A Case of Unfinished Business” is an adaptation of my audio script produced by Jim French Productions and broadcast over Imagination Theater in 2014 and will appear in the spring MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories from MX Publishing. (And in case you haven’t heard the good new, as of October 2019 Imagination Theater is back on the air! Get all the 4-1-1 or just check them out at harrynile.com! You’ll be glad you did!) A Feril Nightlinger short story as well as a Dirk Pitt review article may also see the light of day this year, but I am still waiting to hear about those. Keep your fingers crossed!
Another big project I worked on in 2019 is a new draft of my screenplay for Max Q being represented by Caliber Entertainment. As I have written in the past, Max Q is a project near and dear to my heart. Whether this screenplay will ever see the light of day, I do not know, but it was great revisiting the series and characters.
Novels remain my first writing passion, and, as Lovecraftian: The Shipwright Circle proved in 2019, I am not forsaking this medium. (Speaking of The Shipwright Circle, one or two interesting possibilities may be on the horizon, and, if anything pans out, I will provide more information here.)
Because I just cannot seem to get enough of the Great Detective, I am writing a full-length Holmes novel set during the Great Hiatus that ties together every Holmes pastiche I have written. I also am writing the second Lovecraftian novel, The Whippoorwill Clutch, and my plans are to have both of these manuscripts completed before year’s end.
Perhaps the biggest news for 2020 is the release of my first new comics story in over a decade and first Lovecraft adaptation is over twenty years. As I am typing this artist and letterer Trey Baldwin is nearing the finish line on The Shadow over Innsmouth. Like my previous Lovecraft adaptations, The Shadow over Innsmouth will be released in a graphic novel format by Caliber Comics that will include Lovecraft’s original story along with some ancillary material by me. Trey is doing a fantastic job on this adaptation and I cannot wait for Lovecraft fans to see our adaptation.
That is everything on the burner right now, but if the past has taught me anything it is that opportunities and projects will arise when we least expect them, and I will let you know here if anything like that develops. In the meantime I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and have a happy and productive 2020.
Paratus fortuna iuvat!
The first volume features my short story “Expiration Date,” a nasty little Amicus inspired story about a marriage gone sour and how best not to be too clingy.
All three volumes are now available at Amazon, and I am proud to say that the first volume debuted on Friday, December 13th, as the #1 New Kindle Release for horror anthologies!
Not bad, eh?
Click here to read the Publishers Weekly review of my story and this anthology!
You get that and much, much more in my new pastiche “The Case for Which the World is Not Yet Prepared,” and you can only find it in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XVII: Whatever Remains…Must Be the Truth!
This new edition of the popular MX anthology series is now available and includes three volumes edited by master Sherlockian David Marcum that covers The Great Detective’s career from 1880-1891 (Part XVI), 1891-1898 (Part XVII), and 1898-1925 (Part XVIII) as he encounters seemingly impossible events.
In “The Case for Which the World is Not Yet Prepared” an unexpected visit by a melancholy Holmes to Watson’s home leads to revelations about individual adventures conducted by The Great Detective and The Good Doctor at the behest of Mycroft Holmes during The Great Hiatus involving a particular Rodent of Unusual Size.
According to MX Publishing: “The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories burst upon the scene in 2015 featuring adventures written by many of the world’s leading Sherlockian authors, and since then its popularity has continued to grow. Our new three-volume set, like 2017’s two-volume collection Eliminate the Impossible, features tales of Holmes’s encounters with ghosts and hauntings, cults and curses, mythical beasts and mediums, angels and demons, and more. The forty-nine stories in this new collection represent some of the finest new Holmesian storytelling. each one a testament to the man described by Watson as ‘the best and wisest . . . whom I have ever known.’”
All royalties from this collection are being donated by the writers for the benefit of the preservation of Undershaw, one of the former homes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, currently the home of Stepping Stones School, a school for children with special needs.
Lovecraftian is a new series that weaves classic Lovecraft characters like Herbert West and Randolph Carter and weird tales like “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Colour Out of Space” into one single universe modern narrative.
Among the Circle’s members is brilliant but neurotic research student Randolph Carter, who is on a ghastly personal quest, following clues in the fabled Necronomicon to a lost necropolis and a shunned house where ghastly secrets lurk beneath its cellar.
Meanwhile math whiz Walter Gilman delves into the bloody mysteries surrounding the infamous witch Keziah Mason with help from enfant terrible Richard Upton Pickman, poet/occultist Edward Derby, and charmer Asenath Waite of Innsmouth.
And finally medical student Herbert West’s inhuman experiments in reanimating the dead take an unexpected turn as a monstrous plague descends on Arkham and a cannibal man-beast rampages through its streets.
Lovecraftian: The Shipwright Circle also features four incredible illustrations from phenomenal artist Trey Baldwin — who is currently collaborating with me on the first new H. P. Lovecraft’s Worlds story in over 20 years, a comics adaptation of Lovecraft’s Shadow Over Innsmouth — and an eye-catching cover by Manthos Lappas. (And if Michael Botticelli’s 3-D art of The Miskatonic University Library and the city of Arkham caught your eye, you can check out more of his work on Michael’s ArtStation site.)
But The Shipwright Circle is only the beginning of the Lovecraftian goodness! The mystery and horror will continue in The Whippoorwill Clutch, and I will be posting about this second novel in the series as well as the upcoming Shadow Over Innsmouth adaptation here.
In the meantime you might enjoy passing the time with the two-volume H. P. Lovecraft’s Worlds graphic novels as well as the anthologies H. P. Lovecraft’s Reanimator Tales (which includes creepy illustrations by Terry Pavlet and a new Herbert West short story by me) and H. P. Lovecraft: The Early Stories (which boasts several eerie illustrations by a host of artists along with a spiffy new cover by David Hartman).
Co-created with Komikwerks co-founder Shannon Denton, HENRIETTA HEX is an Actionopolis Middle Grade novel starring Henrietta Hecks, a twelve-year-old girl who discovers she is able to interact with the dead after moving to the small Maine town of Spooks Hollow. Henrietta must learn how to harness her new gift if she is going to have any hope of saving her new town from an evil spirit bent on vengeance. If Henrietta can enlist the aid of the dead she may just save everyone in town from joining the afterlife at once.
HENRIETTA HEX: SHADOWS FROM THE PAST is also available in a Kindle edition.
To read more about HENRIETTA HEX and how I modeled the character on my daughter Katie, click here.
Are you ready for The Great Sherlock Holmes Debate coming up this Saturday May 25? I hope so, because I’ll be defending the classic 1959 Hammer Studios adaptation of The Hounds of the Baskervilles and I could use your support!
Have certain Sherlock Holmes adaptations gone too far? We’ll find out as 25 Sherlockians defend such films and television programs as the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes series, Young Sherlock Holmes, The Great Mouse Detective, Sherlock, and Elementary.
It’s all part of the celebration of the release of the new illustrated anthology The Art of Sherlock Holmes: West Palm Beach from MX Publishing, the world’s largest Sherlock Holmes publisher. This anthology features my Sherlock Holmes pastiche “The Case of the Petty Curses” with an original illustration by Robert St. Croix. (See below for a peak of Robert’s awesome illustration.)
The Debate as wells as the AOFSH book are raising funds for some great causes as well as helping to broaden the appeal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works to new audiences.
Join us for a special Sherlock Holmes event being hosted from Undershaw, the former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and now the home of Stepping Stones School. One hundred guests will join us in person with 400 additional tickets for fans to join online from around the world – online fans will be able to participate in the debate by live chat.
The event is available through one of its headline sponsors, Zoom, so you can join the Debate from anywhere in the world. Tickets range from £2 (approximately $2.60 USD) to have a go at the Sherlock Holmes raffle (see below), £5 (approximately $6.50 USD) for an online Debate ticket via Zoom, or £10 (approximately $13 USD) for a seat at Undershaw to personally join in all of the action.
All times are Greenwich Mean Time +1:
I have said it before and I will say it again: I wait all year for this!
You don’t want to miss it!
I’ll be selling graphic novels and novels including Comics Writing, Dracula, Heroes & Horrors, Lovecraft, Nightlinger, Sherlock Holmes, Talismen, and Tatters. I will also have news about the new Art of Sherlock Holmes book. Hope to see you there!