Travis Gets a Kill: Author Clive Cussler @ 88
Clive Cussler, the bestselling American author of adventure novels including Sahara and maritime thrillers starring his hero Dirk Pitt, has died aged 88.
The author and co-author of more than 80 books, Cussler sold more than 100m books around the world and was published in more than 40 languages. He made the New York Times bestseller list 17 times in a row. His fortune was estimated to be $120m (£92.8m).
On Twitter on Wednesday, Cussler’s wife Janet announced that the author died on Monday. “It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news that my husband Clive passed away Mon,” she wrote.
“It has been a privilege to share in his life. I want to thank you his fans & friends for all the support. He was the kindest most gentle man I ever met. I know, his adventures will continue.”
Born in Illinois in 1931, Cussler served in the US air force during the Korean war. Upon his return, he went into copywriting and advertising, becoming an award-winning producer of radio and television commercials. He began writing novels in 1965. The Mediterranean Caper, his first book starring his most famous creation, Dirk Pitt – a marine engineer, government agent and adventurer named after his then infant son – was published in 1973; Pitt would go on to star in 25 books.
His other heroes included detective Isaac Bell, husband-and-wife treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo, and Juan Cabrillo, an ex-CIA agent who leads a mysterious maritime crew for hire called The Corporation.
Frequently reimagining moments in history and myth, such as Abraham Lincoln being kidnapped instead of assassinated, or the existence of Atlantis, Cussler’s adventures mostly revolved around villains and heroes racing to track down long-lost artifacts or secret locations, setting the stage for later writers such as James Patterson and Dan Brown.
In the early 2000s, Cussler agreed to work with co-authors at the request of his US publisher Simon and Schuster, in order to publish more frequently; in 2017 alone, he published four novels. “I don’t give a damn,” he said in a 2015 interview, in reply to criticism of the move. “I never had a highfalutin view of what I write. It’s a job. I entertain my readers. I get up in the morning and I start typing … I want it to be easy to read. I’m not writing exotic literature. I like snappy dialogue and short descriptions and lots of action.”
Cussler wrote himself and his loved ones into his novels. The author usually appeared as a helpful character who would give his hero some much-needed assistance or information, and whose identity was often not revealed until his protagonist mused over his strange name. His novel The Tombs sees a cameo from his first wife Barbara, while many significant events in his novels happened on his birthday, 15 July.
An enthusiastic underwater explorer, Cussler also helped discover more than 60 shipwreck sites with his organisation the National Underwater and Marine Agency, named after the fictional agency that employs Pitt. Numa finds include the RMS Carpathia, one of the first ships to come to the aid of Titanic survivors and the HL Hunley, the first submarine to successfully sink an enemy vessel, from the American civil war.
An avid car collector and scuba diver, Cussler continued to write until his death. In a 2015 interview with Publishers Weekly, he laughed at suggestions he would retire from either. “Hell, no. I’m not quitting,” he said, joking that “they may find me behind the computer, just bones and cobwebs.”
The unnamed, 15th book in his Oregon Files series is due to be published later this year. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/26/clive-cussler-novelist-dies-88