Thursday, November 14, 2013

The book that made me want to be a writer...

A question a lot of authors get asked is "What made you want to be a writer?". I have always tried to come up with a wise ass response to this question without success, my 'witty' replies varying from "Beats a real job" to "I was just bored one day and didn't want to play scrabble".

Like I said, without success.

The fact is that for most of us, there is no 'moment' that made us want to write to entertain others. It's a combination of a lot of things, and usually some insignificant thing that pushes us over the top to try it on a professional level. One thing that I have found though, is that there are common points on an authors journey that we all hit at one point or another. One of these is 'THE BOOK' that made us say to ourselves "yeah... I want to do that."

For me, that book was "Night Probe!" By Clive Cussler.

First edition cover, the one I read as a boy.
I know that some would be surprised that my book isn't by Douglas Adams or Issac Azimov, or even comedy or sci-fi. I won't deny that both are huge influences on my writing style, but Clive Cussler has always been my favorite author overall. I was nine when my Dad suggested that I read 'Raise the Titanic' and I enjoyed it so much that I went eagerly to my father's bookshelf to find more books by this Cussler guy. I found 'Night Probe!' and was immediately captivated by this incredible adventure novel. It's about an Oceanographer named Dirk Pitt, and a mysterious document called the "North American Treaty" which was lost in twin disasters over a hundred years ago. The resulting tale is equal parts James Bond thriller and Jacques Cousteau, with a healthy dose of historical mystery. To me it is one of the best plotted books I have ever read, and remains so thirty years after I first read it.

It so made me want to tell my own stories about my own larger than life heroes like Dirk Pitt, very human, always ready for the challenge, and with an extraordinary skillset.

In many ways, my Jake Price character is very much a spiritual brother to Dirk Pitt. I'd like to think that if Jake ever found himself in the universe of Cussler's NUMA crew, he would gladly by Dirk Pitt a beer while the two of them compared notes about their adventures. I would also like to think they would become very good friends.

If I ever have the opportunity to meet Mr. Cussler, however... I know I am totally gonna spaz out. I may offer him my dogeared copy of 'Night Probe!' for him to sign, but I doubt I will be able to form a coherent sentence while doing so.

I know it's unlikely that anyone within his circle of friends will ever read this blog, but in the unlikely event that he winds up reading these words I apologize in advance for being a spaz if I meet you, Mr. Cussler. That part that came out "Blug blurr magg blib" was really meant to be "Thank you for inspiring me to write, sir. I am forever grateful."

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