Tom Clancy, who passed away on October 1, 2013, was one of America’s most successful thriller writers. His 19 novels (all except two feature fictional hero John Patrick “Jack” Ryan) have sold over 100 million copies. Clancy’s 20th novel, Command Authority, will be published in December of 2013. Like many successful modern authors, Clancy did not publish until he was much older. Clancy was 38 years old and an insurance salesman when the Naval Institute Press published his first novel in 1985, entitled The Hunt for Red October. The novel was an instant success, catapulting the first-time author into the publishing stratosphere. He went from earning a $5,000 advance for his first book, to a $3 million advance for several novels, eventually landing a military-sized $97 million publishing contract. Clancy, could finally afford to quit his day job.
David Shanks from Penguin Putnam remarked on Clancy’s talent: “[Clancy] was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and one of the most visionary storytellers of our time.” Clancy, who had always been fascinated with military history and technology, worked diligently to master his craft. For him, writing a novel was a matter of rolling up one’s sleeves and putting in the work. When asked about his writing regimen, he answered frankly: “I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.”
Clancy’s fast-paced novels translated exceptionally well into film. Movies based on his books (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears) were all box office hits.
The Clancy canon defines the paragon of military thriller novels, inspiring a new generation of thriller writers who one day can quit their day jobs and publish engaging tales that keep readers on the edge of their seats.
The Hunt for Red October (1984)
Red Storm Rising (1986)
Patriot Games (1987)
The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988)
Clear and Present Danger (1989)
The Sum of All Fears (1991)
Without Remorse (1993)
Debt of Honor (1994)
Executive Orders (1996)
SSN: Strategies for Submarine Warfare (1996)
Rainbow Six (1998)
The Bear and the Dragon (2000)
Red Rabbit (2002)
The Teeth of the Tiger (2003)
Dead or Alive (2010, with Grant Blackwood)
Against All Enemies (2011, with Peter Telep)
Locked On (2011, with Mark Greaney)
Threat Vector (2012, with Mark Greaney)
Command Authority (2013, with Mark Greaney)
For further reading: nytimes.com/2013/10/03/books/tom-clancy-best-selling-novelist-of-military-thrillers-dies-at-66.html