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Becoming Tom Clancy: My letters from Tom – Part 2 of 4

(See Part 1)

Tom Clancy in 1995. (Image: Paul Morse / Los Angeles Times)

Tom Clancy in 1995. (Image: Paul Morse / Los Angeles Times)

Following up as promised, here is the second of the letters I received from Tom Clancy during his 1984-85 transition from insurance agent to best-selling celebrity author.

I had finished reading The Hunt for Red October and wrote to him with lots of comments and questions. (Sure would be interesting to see that letter again.) The letter below was his reply. I loved getting an inside look at what a writer thought about his work, the things he had to consider, what sort of things went through his mind. Almost as much fun was his delight with his new computer/word processor and printer. A word processor and a state-of-the-art dot matrix printer with continuous feed paper — and fonts! It didn’t get any better for writers in those days.

“You needn’t apologize for reading slowly,” he wrote, “since that’s the way most people write, and frankly I feel that if I write every damned word, I want you readers to read every damned word!” [emphasis his]

My son Rich (Tom called him Rick) is mentioned in this letter. He was 16 at the time, and already a computer whiz. He and Tom had different ideas about which computers would be the way of the future. Tom was touting Apple, and Rich Atari. We all know how that turned out.

Sunset was the working title for Red Storm Rising.

By the way, notice Tom mentions on page 3 that he’d be happy to autograph a book for me. He did. A beautiful, crisp, first edition of Hunt, published by the Naval Institute Press … which I managed to discard later while preparing for one of my many moves.


Tom Clancy letter, 1 Nov 1984, p 1

Tom Clancy letter, 1 Nov 1984, p 2

Tom Clancy letter, 1 Nov 1984, p 3

Tom Clancy letter, 1 Nov 1984, p 4

Tom Clancy letter, 1 Nov 1984, p 5



NEXT: Becoming Tom Clancy – Part 3


  1. Such a “normal” letter- a treasure for sure. Please don’t let them get away as your signed copy of Hunt/Red Oct! Wow, realizing our phones today have so much more than those early ‘super’ machines. And remembering when dotmatrix printers were wonderful 🙂 Again, thank you for sharing your letters with us! …now where are my Clancy books….

    • Guarding the letters with my life and still kicking myself over the book. I even remember thinking as I tossed it, along with many many others — “I can always get another copy.” D’oh! Totally forgot it was signed.

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