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 <i>New York Times</i> 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 <i>Raise the Titanic!</i> 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.