While not a household name like Stephen King or Michael Crichton, of adventure novelist Clive Cussler's dozens of books, nearly 20 appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Enthralled with the mysteries of the sea and an avid scuba diver since his days in the U.S. Air Force, Cussler began writing fiction while working at a Los Angeles advertising agency and incorporated his oceanic interests into the fictional sea-faring explorer Dirk Pitt and his organization, the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). Although the sales of his first two novels were unexceptional, an improvement in style and a central plot that captured the imagination made 1976's Raise the Titanic! a massive bestseller. One of the most prolific writers of his day, Cussler continued to deliver one Pitt adventure after the other, although a critically and commercially disastrous adaptation of "Raise the Titanic" (1980) soured the author on Hollywood for nearly a quarter century, until an equally disappointing adaptation of his book "Sahara" (2005) cemented his low-opinion of the movie business. Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, Cussler created a real-life NUMA in the form of a non-profit organization through which he could mount his own shipwreck expeditions and later turned the Pitt novels into a family business by recruiting his son Dirk as a co-writer on the books in the mid-2000s. With a tireless work ethic and a proven recipe for success, Cussler remained a literary force well into the new millennium.