If it’s the first weekend in October . . . this must be Cusslercon! The Clive Cussler Collector’s Society brought its 2008 annual get together back to Denver, where it all began back in 2005.
Old friends and new, nearly 150 in all, gathered once again to celebrate all things Cussler. Early arrivers had a reunion dinner Thursday evening at Cinzetti’s Italian restaurant not far from the Ramada Plaza Hotel, site of the convention. Friday found Debbie and Bruce Kenfield greeting arriving attendees in the society registration room. It’s the place to be on Friday as returning “Cussler Crazies” renew old friendships as they watch for arriving luminaries.
The afternoon passed as Paul and Kristy Kemprecos, and Jack Du Brul sat around chatting with those waiting for the evening festivities to begin. Just as at previous conventions nothing officially starts until the arrival of the grand master himself, Clive Cussler. As the seven o’clock hour approached eager fans gathered near the entrance of the hotel to await Clive’s grand entrance. Not to be disappointed a classic car came into view, the 1932 Auburn V-12, featured in the 20th Dirk Pitt adventure, Arctic Drift. Driven by Dirk Cussler the Auburn came to a stop in the breezeway greeted by cheers of excitement from the gathered throng. Just as Dirk and his sister Teri stepped from the car, another classic – this one a miniature – pulled in behind. Folded into the driver’s seat was none other than Cussler himself. After a short photo op, all moved inside to the opening night cocktail party.
Saturday morning started with the official kick-off by society president, Wayne Valero. After opening comments, short presentations and Q & A’s were given by Dirk Cussler (co-author of the Dirk Pitt novels), Roland Dahlquist (illustrator for Arctic Drift), Jack Du Brul (co-author of The Oregon Files novels), Paul Kemprecos (co-author of the Kurt Austin Numa series), and Grant Blackwood (co-author of a new series by Clive Cussler, yet to debut). After the presentations all climbed onto chartered buses to take the short ride to Arvada, Colorado to the Cussler Car Museum where over 80 classic cars, restored by Cussler mechanics, are on display. The museum was open only to Cusslercon attendees, who not only enjoyed a private showing with Cussler sharing stories about many of the classic cars, but were also treated to a catered barbeque lunch while being entertained by the unique musical styling of Roz Brown.
Saturday evening began with cocktails opening the way to the banquet. People took seats at their assigned tables and anticipation was in the air as the author’s and other special guests entered the room. Each table was joined by one or more of the VIPs.
As dinner was being finished, Wayne Valero took the stage as he announced the format for the evening. Virginia Lenneville and John Hutchinson of VJ Books drew dozens of winning numbers for door prizes, Norwood Press Cussler limited editions donated by VJ Books. As in previous years everyone held their breath before checking raffle tickets to see if Andy from DOXA had called their numbers to win the submariner watch.
After the giveaways, Wayne introduced the keynote speaker, the NY Times bestselling author, Steve Berry. Steve gave a delightful address, sharing reflections on his own writing career, highlighting the importance Clive Cussler played in Berry’s decision to become a writer. Berry concluded his remarks, and then introduced Cussler who entertained with a few of his classic stories.
The banquet concluded with Wayne explaining how the author signing would take place. After the tables were cleared each author retreated to a table where they signed everything put in front of them. In addition to books, they signed programs, photographs, t-shirts, posters, and other memorabilia.
As the signing lines collapsed and the crowds began to dwindle murmurs about next year’s convention began to dominate the conversation of those remaining. “I hear it’s gonna be in San Diego . . . see you there!”