Tom Clancy died on Tues, Oct 1st at the age of 66. From humble beginnings as an insurance salesman working in the firm founded by his first wife’s grandfather, he wrote on the side and became a multi-media dynamo – bestselling author, video games, movies, TV mini-series, media analysis, legal trendsetter. After having his first novel rejected by virtually every major publisher, Clancy sent it to the Naval Institute Press, with whom he had a relationship due to non-fiction articles of his they’d published. Though they’d never before published any fiction, they gave this book a shot and scored a bullseye with The Hunt for Red October. in 1984. He was paid $5,000 advance for the book. Both he and the Naval Institute did quite well on that deal.
Clancy’s technological knowledge was learned early. While most young readers dig into fiction, Clancy dug into books on naval history, journals and books intended for military professionals. When he began writing, he matched this deep knowledge with interviews with military engineers and professionals to create stories with up-to-the minute technology and weaponry. His work was so good that he was interviewed by the government as possibly being in possession of classified info. He wasn’t. He just had a sharp imagination.
His niche in legal theory came about when during the divorce procedings with his first wife she manuevered to gain partical custody of his fictional character, Jack Ryan. That had never before been tried.
Clancy spent his life in Maryland, where he was born on April 12, 1947, in Baltimore. His passion for military matters led him to try to join the Army after finishing college with a degree in English. He was turned away due to bad eyesight. (Most pictures of him show him wearing sunglasses and one might assume that he also had a light sensitivity.) His fortune allowed him to become part owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He had reached an agreement to buy the Minnesota Vikings but the divorce made him give that up.
Mr. Clancy spoke of the laser-like focus required to succeed. “I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf,” he said. “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.” his New York Times obituary noted. “I hang my hat on getting as many things right as I can,” Mr. Clancy once said in an interview. “I’ve made up stuff that’s turned out to be real — that’s the spooky part.”
His publisher announced that he died after a short illness at John Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, not too far from where he lived.