Q. Any idea who will be cast to play Dirk, Al and the others?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Dirk is supposed top be played by Hugh Jackman*. He's a real comer, he fits Pitt's image perfectly. The rest of the casting will not start until January 2002. Right now everything is just status quo. The director is going to be Rob Bowman of X-Files fame.
Q. You are considered one of the premier action/adventure writers. One of the keys to your writing is your incredible suspenseful timing. What can you say about timing and how does it play a role in your writing?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I guess the books are kind of like the old Saturday afternoon matinee serials. Most of them were westerns in those days. Where the hero is going off the cliff in a car filled with dynamite and that's were it would end, until you came back the following Saturday to find out what happened. The books are laid out that way, you would end a chapter on some kind cliffhanger and then "oh my god" what happens next? So you turn the page and start the next chapter.
Q. I have to admit your books have been the cause of quite a number of sleepless nights. I just had to keep reading.
CLIVE CUSSLER: ( laughing) Sometimes my plot lines are so convoluted, I get calls from friends at 3 am saying; you SOB, you'll never pull this one off.
Q. As a matter of fact, yesterday evening while reading Atlantis Found, I noticed you had written yourself into your book! I must admit I got quite a laugh out of it. How did it come about?
CLIVE CUSSLER: It was a couple of books back, where Pitt was at a classic car club meet. He parked his old car next to this guy, an older man with grey hair and a grey beard. Pitt walks up and says hi my name is Dirk Pitt and before I knew it I had typed in hello my name is Clive Cussler. I stopped and looked around and said, gee, why did I do that. Then I got to joking around and had them look at each other. Then Pitt says, you know the name sounds familiar, but I just can't place the face. (laughing) So I just left it in as a joke, figured the readers would get a laugh out of it. I thought that was going to be the end of it, but then I got 300-400 letters saying how everybody liked it. So now I have to do a Hitchcock walk on and people are waiting to see where I come in.
Q. On that note, can we expect to see you in the motion picture?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Yes, I will be in SAHARA. In the book I was a prospector, but in the movie, I will be driving an old beat-up truck and rescuing Pitt and Giordino out in the Sahara
Q. In your opinion, what do you find most exciting about deep sea diving and exploration?
CLIVE CUSSLER: It's always the thrill of the unknown. Everybody dives in the Grand Cayman or Bermuda. I don't dive in those places anymore, after 50 years the thrill just isn't there. I always tell everybody, go where nobody goes! Go up into Canada or Alaska, sure it's cold water, but you'll be seeing things nobody has seen before! Go into the colder waters, from Vancouver up to Anchorage, my gosh, all the sounds and all that. Nobody ever dove there before. It's colder than hell, but if you get a dry suit, it isn't so bad.
Q. You have found many shipwrecks, can you tell us which one the most important/impressive?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Oh. There have been so many. Right now the one that is the big deal is the confederate submarine, the Hunley, which we found in Charleston. The first submarine to sink a warship, but never came back. We found it, raised and brought it to a laboratory where we will be excavating it. They will be preserving it so that someday it can go on display.
This year was pretty good, we found the Carpathia, Which of course rescued the Titanic survivors only to be torpedoed 6 years later off the coast of Ireland. And the Marie Celeste, Which was the famous ghost ship they found floating with nobody on board.
Q. You have been writing Dirk Pitt novels for nearly 30 years now, is it getting more difficult as you go along or has it become easier as the character develops?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I've used so many plots in my books that it's getting hard to be original. That's the trouble with a series, I'm writing away when I realise I used that same line of dialog six books back. It's become very difficult to be original. Q. Are there any plans for another novel after this latest one?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I have to write at least one more, because of the wild ending on Valhalla Rising, so I have to continue that one. Q. You recently published your first non-fiction work, could you tell us why you decided to take that direction?
CLIVE CUSSLER: So many people use to tell me that I should write about all the shipwrecks I've found. At the time I was busy with the Pitt books, so I worked with a fellow named Craig Dirgo. He did a lot of the easy stuff for me, I would write the historical part, and then he would go through it and write some more for me. Then I would write in where NUMA came in the picture to look for the shipwreck and what have you.
It was an interesting story on The Sea Hunters. When my agent went to "pitch" it to my publisher, they just weren't interested. They literally said that nobody reads shipwreck books. My agent insisted, well Cussler's got a name and a following. When he came back to me, he was quite upset; he asked what should we do? So I said, let's go to another publisher! Well obviously my publisher said that they couldn't have that, me going to another publisher. So they gave in and said OK, we'll print it, but only 50,000 copies. The sales department said no way; we know we can sell at least 250,000. Well the hardcover went #2 on the New York Time's bestsellers list and the paperback went #1! We must have sold over 1 million some odd copies! (laughing) We always laugh and called it the book that nobody wanted.
Q. It is my understanding that it is going to become a televised series?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Yes, it's going to be called The Sea Hunters and it will be filmed up in Nova Scotia. It will run internationally, but I'm not certain if it will run domestically. I will be like Arthur C. Clark; I will open and close each episode.
Q. Of all of your books, which is your favourite so far?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I like them all for different reasons. Night Probe was one of my better plots, Raise the Titanic was probably my best concept. People often ask me which car do you like in your collection? I like them all for different reasons.
Q. How about explorers? Who is your favourite?
CLIVE CUSSLER: The one that always intrigued me was Magellan, who circled around the world and Drake who did it the second time. I'm a history buff, I have a PHD in maritime history, so for me it's just fun to follow. History is just not being taught in schools like it used to be. Kids today have no grasp. It is really unfortunate.
Q. Thank you very much for this opportunity Dr. Cussler. This interview has been the highlight of my career so far.
CLIVE CUSSLER: (Laughing) You're welcome, Mr. Levesque. I'm sure you will have much bigger highlights in the future.
(excerpted from Time2watch.com)