When I saw in the Martha’s Vineyard Times that Bunch of Grapes was having a book signing with Justin Scott, I knew I had to go. He is on tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of his book, The Shipkiller. So, I marked my calendar for the Wednesday event, fingers crossed that he would have a minute to meet with me.
A master of high-sea thrillers and mysteries, renowned author Justin Scott, also know as Paul Garrision, is a handsome, soft-spoken, master storyteller. As I sat in the very last row listening to him speak, I could not help but be entranced by his voice and his passion, when talking about his experiences for his books.
He speaks with the excitement of a young boy on Christmas morning. His eyes match his smile as he talks about things like enormous ships sailing through the dark, between tiny sailboats, unaware of the ship’s presence.
After sharing a number of personal adventures he had while researching for his books, I was able to ask him a couple of questions. It’s funny — he’s the kind of man that draws you into his world when he speaks. It’s amazing. Perhaps that’s a gift of a good writer?
I asked why The Shipkiller was brought back into print? It had been out of print for a number of years, even though it has a strong following. For him it was an obvious step. The Shipkiller was his first successful book, and it’s his favorite of all his books.
A little background. Originally published in 1978, The Shipkiller is still eerily relevant today. It deals with crude oil and an 1,800-foot ship, named Leviathan (1,504 is the largest ship actually ever built) carrying this precious cargo during the first oil shortage the US, and the adventures experienced on board.
The Shipkiller is one of the most talked about and favored maritime thrillers ever. Ask any sailor or boating enthusiast you know. Many were surprised that it was no longer in print, since it is still just as an enjoyable read today. Mr. Scott told us with a chuckle, that only the French kept on printing the book. Apparently they do have good taste after all.
With The Shipkiller back in print in hardcover and celebrating its 35th anniversary, there’s even more to celebrate. Mr. Scott also told us that there are plans to have this book made into a movie. Apparently this book has been attempted numerous times by others to be brought to the big screen.
As early as 1979, it was supposed to be made, starring Sean Connery. If you’ve read the book, you know that would have been an amazing role for him. However, it did not happen.
Now decades later, Australian film maker, Robert Connolly is taking on the project. Mr. Scott believes that the movie will be made this time, and that he will be proud of Connolly’s work. For the past two years, the two and their agents have been working out the details. With everything finally agreed upon, it’s full steam ahead, (sorry I had to). So, look for it in theaters sooner rather than later, since the film will be made in Australia.
I also learned that the Australian government will foot the bill for 40% of a film’s production cost when made there. Mr. Scott said that will help get things into production quickly. Also, it will be very similar to the book according to Mr. Scott. So, there’s no reason to wait to read the novel.
I’m sure many of you might be surprised that I would like a book like The Shipkiller. Granted it is one of my husband’s favorite books from his childhood, but my interest with Justin Scott lies with the Issac Bell series he co-authors with Clive Cussler. I have been reading Clive Cussler since my first trip to Nantucket with my husband in the late 90’s.
I had finished my books so quickly while on vacation, and had nothing to read, so I grabbed his book, Deep Six, by Clive Cussler. I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of Dirk Pitt and his NUMA adventures. I’ve read evey book with the character, and even the book series with other characters. How he can author and co-author so many books I don’t know. My second favorite series by Mr. Cussler is the one he writes with Justin Scott, the Isaac Bell adventure series.
How did these two writers, who love adventures on the sea and writing books get together? Well, Clive Cussler wrote the first Isaac Bell novel on his own, The Chase. He wrote it and planned to be done with Isaac Bell, but the publishers loved it and wanted more.
With a lot on his plate, he would consider co-authoring another novel featuring Isaac Bell. Along comes Justin Scott. It wasn’t just their love of writing about adventures on the high seas. It was their very intuitive, seemingly brilliant agents. Their agents got along, and thought that Mr. Cussler & Mr. Scott would work well together.
Four New York Times bestsellers later, I would say that it’s a successful collaboration. Imagine this, the two of them sitting together at Mr. Cussler’s office in his house in Scottsdale, AZ researching and writing together last March? How fantastic!
Oh yes, Mr.Cussler’s cat, Plato, likes to be a part of the writing team. The two authors have become good friends through working together. Not a surprise.
Interestingly, the Isaac Bell series is not based on sea adventures, but rather it’s about the young United States, the series takes place in the early-mid 1900’s. Think railroad barons, shipping tycoons, the invention of talking pictures, and of course cars.
Mr. Cussler’s love of cars is evident in this series as well. So, the underlying current of this series is very different territory for both authors, but together they make magic with their futuristic machines, bad guys, glamour, and hijinks. Taking you back into history, the way only a great read can.
I have read all five of the Isaac Bell adventure series already and can’t wait for the sixth to come out. At Bunch of Grapes, Mr. Scott gave us the inside scoop on the plot for the next book which will be released in March of 2013.
In this book, The Striker, we are taken back to Isaac’s youth. We see him when he is a fledgling detective in 1902, working his first big case. This will be an interesting read since Isaac Bell is well established and is the best detective in the VanDorn Detective Agency in all of the other books. I have already pre-ordered The Striker and can’t wait to read it. I hope that Mr. Cussler and Mr.Scott continue to write together and take us on more adventures with Isaac Bell.
So, if you’re looking for adventure, history, good vs. evil, love and more, grab all five of the Isaac Bell books — you won’t be able to put them down! I should also mention that Justin Scott has a another popular series, the Ben Abbott Mysteries. Also, he is continuing the Janson series by Robert Ludlum (author of The Bourne Series), under his pen name Paul Garrison, which I’m guessing will lead to additional books.
I am always so amazed at who you can meet here on Martha’s Vineyard. From movie stars to politicians to musicians to authors, this small island is host to some incredible people, even if it’s just for a night or for the Summer. It was such a treat to meet, listen to, and talk with an author I greatly enjoy and admire. Life is pretty amazing here, and there’s no where else I’d rather be.
Thank you Bunch of Grapes for continuing to bring so many fantastic authors to us. You inspire us to keep on reading. There’s a copy (well it’s actually my husband’s signed copy I bought for him) of The Shipkiller on my bedside table waiting to be read.