Subject: Clancy Speaks Again, Briefly
From: email@example.com (Tom Clancy)
To the kid doing a paper on me, well, there's lots of stuff out there. The hard
part is discriminating between factual reporting and journalistic fiction.
(Last year at the National Press Club I said out loud and in public [C-SPAN was
there] that the difference between me and a lot of reporters is that I do good
fiction. Some were polite enough to chuckle.) If you have trouble, consult the
librarian. You might as well learn how to find things without their being
handed to you. Serves you better in the long run.
You might also (along with other members of this NG) learn correct grammar
(sorry to the innocent), but my wife and I visited a city school in Baltimore,
and English class to be precise, and on telling the kids to ask their teacher
who Samuel Johnson was, I saw a totally blank look on her face. An English
teacher who doesn't know who Dr. Johnson is? It was, need I say, a public
school. but shocking even so. So, for those of you who don't know proper
grammar (as opposed to typos, which anyone can commit, especially me), you may
be innocent. You didn't choose your teachers. Neither did I, but mom and dad
insisted on Catholic schools, where they teach you and/or break all your
fingers one at a time.
How did I find out all that arcane stuff in Red October and the other books?
People, I am actually fairly smart. Why has this not occurred to anyone? The
information is all out there, if you go looking for it, and the classified
stuff just comes from analyzing the unclassified stuff and connecting the dots
(that is, if "A" is true and "C" is true, there must be an intermediary "B"
which is also true; if "B" is classified, so what? It still sits between "A"
and "C," doesn't it?). In short, THINK! You can solve a lot of problems that
way, especially if you learn also from your mistakes, avoid jumping to
conclusions, and asking yourself one question: "Does this make sense?" before
you jump too far. I call that the Idiot Test.
My talent. Do I have talent? It honestly doesn't seem so from the inside. From
here it's brutally hard spadework to do a novel, but I suppose I have developed
some skills through all the repetition. The writers I admire, like Freddy
Forsyth, are those who use language with elegance, an ability I lack, at least
in my own eyes, but maybe I'm being overly self-critical. I'd like to think I
have the occasional decent turn of phrase. ("Practice." "It's only murder when
innocent people die.")
I'm plugging away at #11, "The Bear and the Dragon." Even my editor (yes, I do
have one) hasn't seen any pages yet except for the prologue, something I need
to correct after I get home from U.K.
I'd much rather go back to Italy. Wife and I went there in August, and it was
just swell. The people there treat everyone like a family member. The food is
divine (the most average restaurant in Italy is as good as the best such eatery
in Baltimore). The wine is breathtaking (Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, wow, what
a superb white wine!). And the shopping, as my wife demonstrated, is quite
stunning. (She bought Italy. Packing it up was a sonuvagun.) But in a week or
so I have to fly to London for the annual dinner of the Yeomen of Her Majesty's
Palace and Fortress, The Tower of London. You see, I *am* a Beefeater. Six
years ago the lads appointed me a "Supernumerary" Yeoman, kind of an honorary
guy there. (I honestly don't know why they chose to adopt me, but it is a
signal honor to associate with such a body of men.) I have ID designating me as
such, and that allows me to have a beer in the Yeomen Warders Club, in the
Tower walls, down-river side by the Salt Tower I think. The Club, which opens
every nigth at 20:00 hrs is, in my opinion, the best place in all the world to
have a beer. You could scarcely ask for better company. The Beefeaters ("the
lads") are all retired command sergeants-major, and a CSM isn't just your
average chap. As fine a body of men as anyone could wish to find. All great
storytellers, and every one of them an academic-class, if self-taught
historian. Short version, I don't go to London without stopping at the Tower
for a pint or two at the Club, and also to see the Ceremony of the Keys. That
is perhaps the oldest continuously operated ceremony in the world, as it
happens every night at 21:40, and has done since the reign of Henry II. It's
described in Patriot Games, but the real thing is far better than my poor
words. (In other words, being there with a pint or two of Tennant's in you does
make a difference.)
But vacation or not, I have a [deleted] book to write. My publisher is funny
that way. They give me an advance and actually expect me to write a book in
return. The rat-finks! After that I can play some more golf and be a free man
again. There's another Ryan behind this one, and that book will be a radical
departure from the usual ones. I'm looking forward to the challenge of it,
though executing may be a little tough. The working title is...
Oh, my challenge to the NG was won, and very quickly won, by one of your number
whom I now owe a bottle of Midleton Irish Whiskey. You will get it, sir or
madam. Clancy is a man of his word. Comes from my time in the insurance