Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guest Post from Dirk Cussler

The Genesis for Crescent Dawn

For Clive and me, shipwrecks seem to be a constant in our lives.  At least once a year, we pry ourselves away from our desks and try to spend time at sea searching for historic wrecks.  Failing in our searches more often than not, the frustration drives a passion that keeps them close to mind, even at home.  And of course we invariably write about shipwrecks, either real or fictionalized, in the Dirk Pitt novels.  In fact, it might be argued that some of the better Dirk Pitt books were inspired by shipwrecks.  Fans of Raise the Titanic, Nightprobe, and even Sahara would probably agree with me here.

While I can’t say where Crescent Dawn stands in the hierarchy of Pitt books, I can tell you that the origination of the story was also inspired by a real shipwreck.  Having spent considerable time in the North Sea searching for the John Paul Jones warship Bonhomme Richard (unsuccessfully so far, I’m sorry to report), it was only a matter of time before we became familiar with the tale of the H.M.S. Hampshire.  The Hampshire was a British WWI cruiser that sank in the North Sea off the Orkney Islands in 1916.  Like the best shipwreck stories, her demise was wrapped in rumor and mystery.

What made the Hampshire’s loss notable was one of the passengers she was carrying, Army Field Marshall Herbert Kitchener.  Lord Kitchener was the icon of the British military, a stern bulldog figure famous for his walrus mustache.  With the outcome of the war in still in doubt, Kitchener was sent on a secret mission to Russia to shore up support with Czar Nicholas.  When the Hampshire was sunk shortly after departing Scapa Flow, scores of conspiracy theories rapidly began circulating.  Some claimed that the IRA had planted a bomb in the munitions hold, while others said a German spy was aboard and had secretly signaled a waiting German U-boat to fire on her.  Kitchener’s presence created a slew of other myths, including claims that the British government had wanted him dead, or that they sank the ship to cover up his own suicide.  Less glamorous was the likely reality that the ship was sunk by a mine laid by a German U-boat days earlier.

And, of course, what good shipwreck story doesn’t involve gold?  Rumors abounded that the Hampshire was secretly transporting $10 million of gold to Russia, stored in her armored strong room.  Salvagers quietly cut into the wreck decades ago, but nobody knows for sure whether any gold was in fact found and removed.  Today, the Hampshire is a protected war grave, silently preserving her mysteries of the past.  Her own history is as engaging as fiction, and we found her a captivating tale on which to base a subplot in the new book.

As an aside, the proposed cover art for Crescent Dawn originally featured an illustration of the Hampshire exploding and sinking.  Clive thought the image was too similar to some other recent covers, however, and it was changed to a scene in Istanbul.  (You can still find a nice image of the Hampshire on the cover of the British version of Crescent Dawn).  With some historical impetus from the old British warship, Clive and I hope you find Crescent Dawn to be a fun read.


 Dirk Cussler (born 1961) is the son of best selling author Clive Cussler. He is a co-author of several DirkPitt adventure novels, including Black Wind and Treasure of Khan as well as being the namesake for the Pitt character.
Dirk Cussler has an MBA from Berkeley and worked for many years in the financial arena before assisting his father with writing the latest novels in the immensely popular Dirk Pitt series. Dirk Cussler also plays an integral part in the non-profit foundation National Underwater and Marine Agency, which was founded by his father; Dirk is the President of NUMA and is also a member of the Board of Trustees.

Launch party for the latest Dirk Pitt adventure, Crescent Dawn, will take place at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore on November 16, 2010 at 6pm. Visit for more details.

Special guest, Roland Dahlquist (created the cover art for Crescent Dawn) will also be signing at The Poisoned Pen. If you would like to order a triple-signed copy of Crescent Dawn from The Poisoned Pen click here to order from our website, give us a call (888-560-9919) or email your order to Dirk and Clive will be signing Crescent Dawn at many locations, check their tour schedule on their website to find out if they are visiting somewhere near you.


  1. I may be wrong about this, but I believe that Roland's cover for Crescent Dawn was the one that ultimately got passed over (It was an awesome cover though). However, Roland's artwork graced the cover of Arctic Drift. A talented artist, and a real character.

  2. Congratulations, once again, Dirk!! Best Wishes! :)

  3. Dirk, I've read many of your and your father's books, and I've given quite a number of the Dirk Pitt series to my father.

    There's a ship I'd like to research for my novel of the 17th century. Is there a registry or index of ships and their fates? This one is the "Arbella," flagship of the John Winthrop fleet of 1630. I suspect foul play...

    If interested, please contact me at Editornado (at) gmail (dot) com, or 602-386-8083.

    Christy K. Robinson