The first time I ever read a novel cover to cover was at twenty-three years old. I was working on the Alyeska Pipeline. More correctly, I was employed because there was little work involved beyond the one-hour drive from Glennallen Camp to the Sourdough Pipe Yard and then the drive back. There were twelve hours in between dedicated to providing security for forty miles of 48” pipe with wall thickness of about an inch and one-half, which were cut into eighty-foot-long sections and required two huge cranes to lift a single section onto two trucks for hauling off at about a top speed of 20mph.
Normally, that would have been an interesting job, but at the time I was there, none of that action was going on. The pipe was just sitting there. In the summertime, the area was blanketed by mosquitoes, but in February, it was blanketed by snow and the constant temperature of fifty-five degrees below zero—keeping the mosquito problem to a minimum. It also discouraged an even leisurely trip to the Porta-Potty.
At the time, I did not know that I had a learning disability; teachers and friends, and even I, just thought I was a slow reader, poor speller, and lousy at math. I had never heard of dyslexia. After that first twelve-hour shift, I knew I needed something more exciting than watching the Northern Lights or the black spruce trees grow. The first being unreliable; and the other, boringly slow.
Back in camp after breakfast, I found the camp library: a three-foot high, three-shelf bookcase—with most of them filled with paperback books. I, having never really read a book before, didn’t want to start with anything too challenging and settled on the skinniest one I could find: a western novel by Louis L’Amour. It took me two twelve-hour shifts to read it, but I liked it. And, as luck would have it, a majority of the books in our library were forty or so of his novels.
I eventually read every book on the shelves, which turned out to be far more than it appeared, as people kept returning books and getting new ones. But I was a fan of Louis’s novels and read everything he wrote that I could get in my hands. I credit his writing skill with teaching me not only to read, but to love reading—and for the hundreds, if not thousands, of books I have read since. Not to mention, kindling the flame to one day write a book of my own. I will dedicate my first book to his memory, and he will get a mention in any book I ever write.
A dear friend of my wife’s, Deirdre Callanan, is one of the most encouraging, positive people I have ever had the privilege to know. She is an amazing writer in her own right, and after reading my manuscript for Escape from Playa Del Carmen, she mentioned it in comparison to Lee Child’s books about Jack Reacher. I have to admit, at the time, I had no idea who Lee was and had not read any of his Jack Reacher novels.
Since that time, I have remedied that by reading his book Night School. I have also become a fan and plan to get caught up on his Jack Reacher series before his next release. Those who don’t like to read can catch them on the big screen where Reacher is played by Tom Cruise.
See more about Lee Child online: http://www.leechild.com/
Tom Clancy is my favorite epic novel author. The Hunt for Red October was the first book of his that I read, after seeing the movie. I had a security job working nights with a lot of time on my hands, so I read lots of stuff, including a great deal of Stephen King; but my favorite, when I have the time for a long read, is still Clancy.
See more about Tom Clancy online: http://www.tomclancy.com/
Craig Johnson is the genius behind the hit TV show Longmire, which is currently on Netflix. My best friend through high school, in Chugiak, Alaska, was Dan Mills. He was a sketch artist when we were in school, and he kept at it all these years, so I asked him to do the cover art for my book Escape from Playa Del Carmen. After reading it, he said that I wrote like this guy Johnson. I said I had never heard of him, then he said he wrote the books about a Wyoming Sheriff named Longmire. Well, I was a big fan of the show but had no idea there were books that were the basis for the TV show.
Since that time, I have talked to Craig and started reading his books, and have gotten through three of them. He has promised to let me know when he hits the D.C. area and I can meet him. If I get back to Wyoming, I plan to stop in and see him. After talking with him, I believe we must be related—if not currently, then in a past life. A great guy and a great storyteller.
See more about Craig Johnson online: http://www.craigallenjohnson.com/
Rick Campbell is a guy I have talked to in my search for a good agent—well, any agent. A friend of mine knew him from the navy when he was a struggling writer, looking for an agent and a break. He referred Rick to me, and as you would expect, with that name, he was as nice as could be and graciously gave me his insight and advice. Well, he is now a New York Times Best Selling author with several best sellers. Ice Station Nautilus is his latest release. And if you miss Clancy the way I do, Rick is right up your alley.
Here’s a bit about Rick, pulled from his web page:
“A native of Cocoa, Florida, Rick attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and spent over thirty years in the Navy. His tours of duty include four nuclear-powered submarines, the Pentagon, and the Undersea Weapons Program Office. On his last submarine, he was one of the two men whose permission was required to launch its twenty-four nuclear warhead-tipped missiles.
“Upon retirement from the Navy, Rick tried his hand at writing and was offered a two-book deal (which has been extended to a four-book deal) by Macmillan / St. Martin’s Press for his novel The Trident Deception, which has been hailed by Booklist as “The best submarine novel since Tom Clancy’s classic—The Hunt for Red October.
“Rick lives with his wife and three children in the greater Washington, D.C. area, and is working on the third and fourth books in this series, sequels to The Trident Deception (2014) and Empire Rising (2015), due out in 2016 and 2017.”
See more about Rick Campbell online: http://www.rickcampbellauthor.com/