In addition to being the author of Falcon Seven, Marine One, Secret Justice, Shadows of Power, Fallout, Flash Point, The Price of Power and Balance of Power, I am a partner in the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster, and head of the Trial Practice Group, and a former Navy Flight Officer in F-14s.
I grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana, and attended the University of South Carolina on a Navy ROTC scholarship, majoring in history, with a minor in English. During my senior summer, I did an exchange cruise with the French Navy on a destroyer, the EE Kersaint out of Brest (which was a wonderful experience and reinforced my decision to go into the Navy), and then attended the University of Warwick in England, to study English Reformation history and English literature.
After college, I received my Navy wings as a Naval Flight Officer and after F-14 training in San Diego, was assigned to VF-84, the Jolly Rogers, on the USS Nimitz. While in VF-84, I participated in making the movie, The Final Countdown, starring Kirk Douglas, Katherine Ross, and Martin Sheen. The filming for the movie was done in several places, but most of the flying was done out of Naval Air Station Key West, Florida. The entire movie crew was in Key West, and we would review the dailies (yesterday’s filming) every night. I was asked to help direct a couple of scenes—the blowing up of the yacht by the Zeros, and the F-14 low-level flyby over Katherine Ross—as well as filming several other scenes with a Panavision camera in the back seat of the F-14. The DVD version of The Final Countdown was recently released. The producers pulled together the Jolly Rogers guys who did the flying, to create and “behind-the-scenes” bonus cut.
I did two Mediterranean cruises while in the Jolly Rogers, and other shorter cruises to the Caribbean and the North Atlantic. I was selected to attend TOPGUN and graduated before my second cruise.
After six years in the Navy, I left active duty in 1981 to attend the University of Virginia School of Law. After graduation, I joined the San Diego-based law firm, Gray Cary Ames & Frye, and began flying in the Navy Reserves. After a few years in the Reserves, I transferred from flying to Naval Intelligence. Naval intelligence was quite interesting and allowed me access to top secret information about world affairs and military developments. I was on active duty at JICPAC, the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Fleet, in Pearl Harbor, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, leading to Desert Storm. I got to see a lot about what happened behind the scenes in an event like that, and how much of importance never makes it to the press.My writing career started in the form of op-eds for the Escondido Times Advocate and the San Diego Union-Tribune, covering current affairs topics. After numerous editorials, I decided to try fiction. Neither my first novel nor my second were accepted for publication. I went through several hundred rejection letters, and labored almost every night for five years before I had any hope of getting published. I’ve gone back and looked at those books since, and I could make them publishable now, but they weren’t very good back then.
My third novel was different. It combined many areas of my personal experience into one story—military action, political intrigue, and Constitutional Law. I found a clause in the U.S. Constitution that hadn’t been used since 1812, and asked the simple question: “What if it was used today? What would happen?”
The first published novel, Balance of Power (William Morrow, 1998), was optioned by Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. The novel was adapted into a screenplay by Mark Baumbach, but was never made into a film.
Five more novels followed in the next five years—The Price of Power (William Morrow, 1999), Flash Point (William Morrow, 2000), Fallout (William Morrow, 2001), The Shadows of Power (William Morrow, 2002), and Secret Justice (William Morrow, 2003). They built on the same themes as Balance of Power—politics, law, and military action.
While working on Secret Justice, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, and had a couple of very difficult years until I received a bone marrow transplant from my sister. This experience led me to do two things. One, write a book on parenting (I’ve not tried to get it published), and to co-write (with me having a minor role) the book 100 Questions and Answers about Myeloma (Jones & Bartlett, 2008). It was quite different from writing fiction, but I got a lot of satisfaction out of both of those projects.
After returning to writing fiction, with three other writers, I wrote and sold a television pilot script and concept to CBS based on the NTSB, and investigating aviation accidents (sort of like Marine One). Alas, the pilot was never made, and CBS still owns the rights.
My seventh novel, Marine One (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), in many ways describes what I currently do as an attorney. It revolves around a wrongful death case against a helicopter manufacturer, filed by the First Lady, after the president’s helicopter crashes into a ravine on the way to Camp David.
Falcon Seven (May 2010), the most recent release, revolves around two Americans being charged with war crimes, by the International Criminal Court in Holland. The main character, an American attorney and former SEAL, tries to get them off, while also looking for a way to get them out.
My law practice today is comprised in a great part by aviation litigation, representing aircraft manufacturers in accident cases, and I’ve tried numerous cases in state and federal court.
I’m also a father of five, three girls and two boys. My wife and I live in San Diego, California. When I’m not practicing law or writing, I am in a band that plays rock, covering songs from several decades. I also run almost every day with my two labs, down by a large lake near my house.