This summer marks the 40th anniversary of Clive Cussler’s writing career—a span during which the best-selling author has thrilled millions of readers with maritime adventures featuring marine engineer Dirk Pitt.

To mark the occasion, Putnam is publishing a 40th anniversary edition (the first ever hardcover) of The Mediterranean Caper, the original Dirk Pitt novel, first published in 1973. The edition includes a new preface by Cussler in which he reflects on his beginnings as a storyteller, his start in publishing and his appearances as a character in his own novels.

Cussler, who divides his time between homes in the Colorado mountains and the Arizona desert, recently answered questions for BookPage about his long and successful career. As in his novels, Cussler gets right to the action and doesn’t waste words.

What has been the biggest surprise of your career?
Realizing how many millions of people I have reached out and touched.

When fans get a chance to meet you in person, what's the number one question they want to ask?
What's my favorite car.

Your novels have been translated into more than 40 languages. What do you think makes your stories so loved around the world?
If I knew, I'd be in 80 languages.

How has your writing process changed (or not) over the last 40 years?
Not really. If nothing, I've improved.

Which do you consider yourself to be first: a novelist or a marine archaeologist?
A novelist, too many long odds against finding a shipwreck.

What is your favorite stage of writing a book?
The epilogue.

What is your favorite underwater discovery and does it appear in one of your novels?
The Confederate submarine Hunley. It shows up in the Seahunters books.

Cussler and his son Dirk with one of the classic cars on display at the
Cussler Museum in Arvada, Colorado.

 

Dirk Pitt is a collector of rare treasures, many of which he finds on his adventures. Which piece of his collection do you wish you owned?
A 1932 Maybach Zeppelin V-12 phaeton.

Do you think NUMA, your nonprofit foundation, has made an impact on the awareness of underwater conservation?
There are many, many ocean scientists who were introduced to their chosen fields by Dirk Pitt and his NUMA crews.

When you started the Dirk Pitt series 40 years ago, did you ever dream that it would have this level of success and longevity?
Hell no.

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