Clive Cussler grew up in Alhambra, California. He later attended Pasadena City College for two years, but then enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War where he served as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer in the Military Air Transport Service. Upon his discharge, he became a copywriter and later creative director for two leading ad agencies. At that time, he wrote and produced radio and television commercials that won numerous international awards one at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. He began writing in 1965 and published his first novel featuring Dirk Pitt in 1973.
Clive is the founder of the National Underwater & Marine Agency, (NUMA) a non-profit organisation that dedicates itself to American maritime and naval history, and a fellow in both the Explorers Club of New York and the Royal Geographic Society in London. He also collects classic automobiles. Clive divides his time between the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of Arizona.