Some know me as an author. Some know me as a publisher. Some know me as a marketer. Some know me as a family man. Some know me as a neighbor.
But few know the secret, shadowy world of my dangerous life.
It’s true. If people only knew all the dangerous adventures I’ve experienced in my life, they would be impressed, amazed, somewhat frightened—and understandably skeptical. But I can prove it. It’s all documented in black and white.
As a child, my tribe was attacked by Aleuts and then forced to leave our harsh but idyllic island home—I was left behind and marooned when I tried to save my brother. After wild dogs killed my only companion, I survived alone for eighteen years on San Nicolas Island off the coast of California. (If you don’t believe me, read Island of the Blue Dolphins.)
Still in my youth, I was hired as a cabin boy to follow a map across the sea in search for buried treasure. I was wise beyond my years and had a keen eye. I knew from the start that the one-legged “sea-faring” man couldn’t be trusted. Sure enough, Long John Silver took me hostage during a bloody mutiny on Treasure Island. But I came home safely to tell my tale because that salty pirate had a wee bit of good in him and saved my life. I still wonder what happened to him when he made his escape with a bag of gold. (If you want to know how close to death I came, you’ll have to read the book.)
As a young man I had everything going for me. I was named captain of my own ship. My beautiful fiancé awaited my return from sea. I wasn’t born rich but I was finally poised to do well for my family and myself. But the night before my wedding, three men I trusted betrayed me. Due to their treachery, everything I held dear was wrenched from me. I was arrested and sent to the dreaded island prison, Chateau d’If, where I spent fourteen years plotting my revenge. My daring escape would take your breath away – it did mine – and was the stuff of legends. I can’t tell you how rich I became by following the map given to me by a fellow inmate. Did I achieve my revenge? (You have to read the Count of Monte Cristo to find out.)
I’ve escaped death and been chased by beautiful women, from Siberia to Afghanistan to Morocco to Jamaica, in service of the Queen. (Along with James Bond, I had a license to kill.) I’ve quietly maneuvered behind the scenes of the Cold War against a brutal, amoral (and suddenly human) KGB director named Karla. (Smiley and I knew how to play the long game and finally, ultimately reel him in.) I’ve hunted terrorists. I’ve climbed Mt. Everest. I’ve hunted a murderous whale. I’ve solved crimes. I’ve fought with and against the Romans.
My dangerous life started so early, I can barely remember a time in my life that wasn’t filled with danger, intrigue, and fighting—and winning—against all odds. I once killed a giant with a slingshot and smooth stone when reading a Bible Story book. I still remember my life as a priest when I built the breathtaking cathedral of Kingsbridge in Pillars of the Earth. I defended the Motherland when Napoleon brought his army to Moscow in War and Peace. (Though my life in court is a 2000-word blur.) After years of futility, I finally put Edinburgh’s most notorious criminal, Big Ger Cafferty in prison, only to see the son-of-a-gun get an early release. After he helped me solve a case, the old rumors that I was on his payroll the whole time resurfaced. (Only Ian Rankin knows if Rebus was a dirty cop or not.)
One of the most popular authors of our day, George R.R. Martin, was writing of me—I’m sure of it—when he said: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
Are you a reader? I’m guessing you could tell a thousand tales of betrayal and redemption as well.