The Cussler Letter

“So what writer did you once like that you stopped reading? – And Why?” – A question I’ve been asked several times while on various panels at different conventions over the last few years. My answer always seems to revolve around  a story about thriller writer Clive Cussler and a letter he wrote to me many years ago.

I’ve also used the same anecdote when appearing on panels about writer/fan interactions, and similar subjects.

While sorting out my office over the holiday period I came across the letter. It was pretty much exactly as I remembered it. For those friends, and convention attendees, who’ve heard me tell the story numerous times I thought I’d post the actual source here.

First off, an acknowledgement that from a published author success perspective, I’m not anywhere close to where Mr. Cussler was, or continues to be. He has a very large dedicated audience who enjoy his work, and I wish him every success in continuing to build and satisfy that audience.

OK, on to a little background to put things into perspective. Back in the early to mid-nineties I was one of those who read every book that Clive Cussler wrote. I loved his stuff, in particular for the blend of historical research, and modern technology and adventure. Sometime in 1994 I picked up the latest adventure, (not sure which one, possibly Inca Gold) and was little put off by what I saw as a trend of the two lead characters, Dirk Pitt & Al Giordino, away from being explorer/adventurers and more towards being vigilante type crime-fighters going after the bad-guys.  Not that I’ve got anything against vigilante crime-fighters (as my long time Batman obsession shows), but it wasn’t what I read the Dirk Pitt novels for.

But what brought my enjoyment to a crashing halt was a passage in the book where Cussler described an Airbus aircraft that had been converted to a cargo plane. It was all wrong.  Big deal – what did it matter? Well it mattered to me. As I said one of the reasons I enjoyed the Cussler books was for how well they were researched.  The thing was a few years earlier I’d headed the technical documentation group at the Airbus Division of British Aerospace – at that stage I literally knew that aircraft inside out. Sure you could convert the aircraft for cargo use (in fact Airbus now sell cargo versions) but the way it was described in the book was technically impossible, it would have compromised the airframe. – So I thought I’d be a helpful reader and write my favorite author and politley inform him of this research oversight. – This is the letter I received in reply.

CusslerPg1 CusslerPg2

Here’s the text:

10-94 – Cussler’s address down the side (removed for privacy)

Sorry Porter,

I thought I wrote fiction. So the Airbus can’t have a cargo door, so what? As long as my other 59,999,999 readers could care less, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

As to Pitt & Giordino turning into vigilantes, you should live in the US. Leaving the villains to the authorities won’t work anymore, the hoods are back on the streets in hours.

If you want action heroes who walk the fine line, stick with the old timers like McLean and Innes.

I appreciate the fact that you like my books, but the world is no longer a nice place to live in.


Clive Cussler.”

I haven’t read a Clive Cussler book since.

Another Year of Scribbling Stuff

Looks like 2013 is going to be another busy year of throwing words on the page. I already have several projects running and a few more lined up for the coming year, and I thought it might be fun to see how they stack up.


I have been working on a few CARS scripts for the Disney Publishing folks in Europe that should see print in the monthly CARS magazine at some point this year. Other stories ideas are in for consideration – so fingers crossed that I get to continue to hang out in Radiator Springs for a while longer.

I’m still working on the new science fiction comics series, FORGOTTEN CITY. I have now co-written 4 issues and written another 4 as the series’ solo on-going writer. Issues #9 and #10 are plotted out and next on the to-do list with plans for the story to go as far as issue 25. The publisher is still looking to finalize a distribution deal, so hopefully that will happen in 2013 and the book will be in stores.

There are also a few proposals and pitches sitting out there for different projects with a variety of comics publishers.


2013 promises to be the year of new titles from Airship 27 Productions fiction wise. This coming year should see the publication of The Ruby Files Vol. 2 containing my first short story about 1930s hard-boiled New York detective, Rick Ruby. Also in 2013 look out for The New Adventures of Allan Quatermain featuring my just completed novella “Golden Ivory.”

Short stories scheduled for the rest of the year include one featuring master escapologist Harry Houdini, and a second Rick Ruby escapade.

I’ve also started a new novel, on the “write a page a day” basis to see if I can keep going and get a novel length manuscript done by year’s end. I’m taking a totally different approach to writing this novel – I’ll probably blog more about that later in the year if things keep to schedule.


The major focus this year is to get The James Bond Lexicon finished for the fine folks at Hasslein Books – and I have the Man From U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon lined up after that.

I’ve also had some early discussions about another business book – more on that, if and when it develops.

After listing it all out like that, I guess I am going to be a busy boy – so I guess I should get back to it. Deadlines wait for no man.