Great article in Military Officer, the MOAA Magazine and web page about Hunter Killer with a video interview:
Great article in Military Officer, the MOAA Magazine and web page about Hunter Killer with a video interview:
Great news! We finally have a release date from the studio for Hunter Killer, the movie based on our novel Firing Point. Put 26 October on your calendar! I expect more news to follow.
SUBMARINE REVIEW The official magazine of the Naval Submarine League
This is an article that the Naval Submarine League asked me to write for the SUBMARINE REVIEW. It appears in the Spring 2012 edition.
When I first retired from the Navy, my wife and I moved from San Diego to Durango, Colorado. Being over 7,000 feet up in the San Juan Mountains is just about as far from the ocean as you can get and still be in the US. Normally not even the water from the Animas River makes it to the ocean. People living there had very little concept of the Navy or the Submarine Service. I was actually asked by a co-worker, in all seriousness, if the Sub Force was part of the Coast Guard. I, of course, had to explain that we normally operated in water too deep for the Coast Guard.
Durangotans were enthralled by tales of life under the sea, or at least that was my read of their reactions to my sea stories. I was repeatedly urged to write down the stories to share them more widely. Again, this was my interpretation of their motives. They could have merely understood that while I was busy writing, I wouldn’t be pestering them with tall tales of people who mysteriously disappeared for months at a time, and made their own air and drinking water. It’s my article, so it’s my interpretation.
After mulling this over for a considerable period, I came to realize that writing a book was in order. For a number of reasons, I chose a novel as the format. Chief among these reasons was the classification of the work we do. Although VADM Richardson has lobbied for several years to have the modern submarine story actually told, realistically much of that story will stay classified well into the future. Any attempt at writing a Cold War version of SILENT VICTORY will have a readership limited to submariners with active clearances. I wanted to familiarize a larger general audience with the men who manned their submarines and the jobs they did. That meant fiction, but with the descriptions as close to accurate as possible within the strictures of security.
At this point, I need to say that all characters in our novels are purely fictional. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Although actual events may be the impetus for some parts of our novels, except for mentions of Navy legends like Admiral Rickover, none of our characters portray anyone real, living or dead. However, after reading our first book, multiple people have each claimed to be the basis for the most of the characters. Amazing!
The other major reason to use fiction as our medium was that, quite frankly, our job as submariners, if done properly, is very boring. I know many of you will argue this point, remembering a few terrifying minutes on a SPEC OP where your heart rate was up on the limiter. But remember, that was a minute or two out of sixty days on station. The rest of the time, your definition of excitement was pizza for midrats. And the dangers of a xenon precluded start-up would be exciting only to a nuke (although we tried that plot line in FINAL BEARING ). A novel is, by definition, a story that is meant to be entertaining. If not, it fails in its mission.
I have used “our” several times up to this point. It is time that I explained. Don Keith and I co-write these stories. Don is a former communications executive and established novelist (he prefers “storyteller”), living outside Birmingham, Alabama. He has no military background, but since we started working together he has become one of the most prolific submarine historians currently writing. When I was first starting out, I submitted to a literary agent (Robbie Robinson, formerly a torpedo-man on ARCHERFISH SS311) what I thought was a finished manuscript for a book, but in retrospect, probably read too much like a tech manual. Writing fiction is a skill set not well-developed in military circles, except for the occasional fit-rep. Robbie suggested that Don and I work together. We decided to give it a try. Don is really, really good at character development. I shelved that first novel for later. Starting over with a skilled and seasoned writing partner would be simpler if we just started with a completely blank page. I guess you can say that the rest is history.
Although we did not physically meet until after FINAL BEARING was published and was already a best seller, through the wonders of the internet we developed a unique collaboration technique that has worked very well for us.
Essentially, we start with a short, three to four page, synopsis of where we think the story line will take us. Ideas for the storyline come from many sources. For FINAL BEARING, I wanted to tell about the challenges of life on an older submarine and the attachment that men build for those old ships. Those of you who sailed on any boat with a hull number less than 688 will remember what a challenge it was to maintain those boats, especially as they neared the end of useful life. Every underway was an adventure.
A chance news article in the late 90’s about a mini-sub that one of the drug cartels was building high in the Andes brought on that part of the story. Since FINAL BEARING was released the drug lords have resorted to mini-subs on a routine basis. Did they read FINAL BEARING?
When on a surface run down to the old Carr Inlet sound range (it wasn’t old back then) I looked at the charts and realized that a submerged transit was doable. Remembering that trip was the foundation for our fictional SPADEFISH’s action in chasing the mini-sub down Puget Sound.
For FIRING POINT, we wanted to show the life of going North and playing with the Bear, except in a modern context. Here was our chance to tell about life on a 688I and how capable those boats are. We did play a little loose with reality here. We kept both the DSRV and the ASDV alive to keep the plot moving, and frankly because they are both capabilities that we as a Submarine Force still need.
It normally takes several iterations of rewriting, emailing the synopsis back and forth to reach something that we are happy with. Then we start the serious writing. Normally I will write a chapter and zap it to Don. He will make changes and pass it back to me. A chapter may take five or six re-writes just to get the basic story down. While writing, we will frequently riff on the story line. Some action one of the characters takes will open up a new vista to explore a bit before we return to the central theme. You might compare this to writing an incident report and investigating all the causes and effects, although this is a lot more fun.
We are frequently asked which of us wrote which parts. I don’t think either of could honestly answer that question. It is truly a collaborative effort. Except that any factual mistake is mine.
Authenticity is more than a byword with us. It is at the heart of our story telling. We have had many rather warm discussions with our editors, and even warmer ones with the movie screen writers, about what they considered trivial, and therefore unnoticeable details of submarine life. The boat in the story has to look, sound, and smell like the one really going to sea. If I can’t use words to paint a picture of the control room when you are coming to periscope depth on a stormy night that has you looking for a green poly bag, then I’m not doing my job.
There are a couple of central themes in all our works. Don and I try to tell a story that paints a true picture of the people who man our submarines; the challenges and dangers they face on a day-to-day basis, the level of dedication and integrity that it takes, and the sacrifices they all make. We try not to make anyone ten feet tall, but to portray the mental pressure and the physical exhaustion realistically. We want old shipmates to pick up one of our books and smell the amine while a new reader feels that she really understands what’s happening and why.
Telling the technology tale is a bit of a challenge. It’s a balancing act. The technology is vital to the plot and writing about the incredible capabilities of today’s boats is almost like writing science fiction. To the uninitiated, the technology is the neat stuff, but it’s only a part of the real story. It is not the story, it only enhances the story.
Even in our fiction, the laws of physics still apply. The limitations are integral to the story. Why can’t Joe Glass just shoot the bad guy as soon as he picks him up on the towed array? That takes some explanation. But a four page dissertation on bearing ambiguity or the mechanics of an ADCAP launch breaks the tension we tried very hard to build to a peak as the TOLEDO is evading incoming weapons and counter-firing a self-defense weapon.
One trick that we employ is to run an exercise or two early in the story. There we will spend some time with a technical explanation. In FIRING POINT we meet Joe Glass and the TOLEDO as they are getting their butt handed to them by a Brit sub in a TORPEX. We spend some time explaining what is going on. Later, when Glass is evading a Russian torpedo up under the ice, we can keep the tension high and the details in the background. The reader can see that the TOLEDO crew learned their lessons back in the Irish Sea.
Here is an excerpt from FIRING POINT that should illustrate a little of what we have been discussing (and frankly to whet your interest):
Master Chief Tommy Zillich was listening to the towed array sonar hydrophones, well aware that there could be a stalker out there somewhere in those dark, icy waters. His mouth still dropped open when he heard the launch transients from Volk.
There was no mistaking the sound. Torpedoes inbound!
He grabbed the 7MC microphone and yelled the words all submariners fear.
“Launch transients! Torpedoes in the water! In the baffles. Best bearing zero-nine-zero and they’re close!”
Without hesitation, Perez yelled, “Ahead flank! Launch the evasion devices! Right full rudder! Steady course south.”
Toledo leaped ahead as the throttle man poured steam into the boat’s big turbines. Fifteen knots. Twenty. Twenty-five. The sub’s speed climbed. But it was no race because of the velocity of the Russian torpedoes. There was one hope, to get outside the acquisition cone on the two incoming fish so they would lose the scent.
The deck rolled violently as the sub banked through the high-speed turn. Maybe, just maybe, the evasion devices would confuse the torpedoes long enough to allow them to escape.
Glass ran out of his stateroom into the control room. He took in what was happening and realized at once how close they were to death. “Make your depth a thousand feet, forty-down angle! Keep me just off the bottom! Snapshot tube one on the bearing of the incoming weapon!”
He grabbed the metal stanchion by the periscope stand and held on. This was going to be close.
Or maybe not. Maybe they were dead already.
They had to get out of the acquisition cones somehow. Or else they would be little more than another skeleton on the floor, lying dead right next to Miami.
The deck slanted down steeply as Toledo clawed for the safety of the depths.
“Torpedoes bear zero-nine-zero,” Zillich reported, his voice calm and workmanlike. “I have them on the sphere now. They’re active.”
“Weapon ready!” Weps yelled.
“Shoot tube one,” Glass ordered, doing his best to match Zillich’s all-business tone.
Thank God they had the torpedo loaded, the door already open.
He watched the weapons officer throw the brass handle to “Standby” and then to the “Fire” position. At least they would get a chance to shoot back. Glass knew that it would do little more than scare the bastard who had ambushed them. He was probably hiding in the noisy ice near the surface and it would be next to impossible for a normal weapon to ferret him out.
Toledo lurched as the torpedo ejection pump forced three-thousand-psi water up around the back end of the ADCAP torpedo and flushed it out of the tube. Sensors in the torpedo detected motion down the tube so that the Otto-fuel engine started as soon as the weapon cleared the enclosure and was outside. Its steering vanes pushed the four-thousand-pound weapon around until it pointed at a course of zero-nine-zero. All the while, the engine accelerated until the torpedo was traveling at better than sixty knots. It was already busy, searching for its target.
This was no ordinary torpedo. The special under-ice algorithms built into its software easily picked out the Volk from the surrounding ice. Still, just as it was programmed to do, the weapon looked away and then back, verifying that what it had found was a real submarine target. Its logic now satisfied, the ADCAP drove at maximum speed toward the target, its arming mechanism activated to sense any large metal object nearby, both by sonar and with an interferometer.
The weapon passed underneath the Russian submarine once, without the arming mechanism being triggered.
Serebnitskiv could hear the pinging of the onrushing ADCAP through the hull, even without the aid of sonar. There was nothing to worry about. It couldn’t find them up here in the midst of all this ice. It would soon fly harmlessly by and eventually explode into the bottom when it ran out of fuel.
The ADCAP circled around and came back again, but shallower this time. The arming mechanism still saw the Volk plainly.
It sent an electric pulse to the firing mechanism, which detonated the firing squid.
The firing squid set off the six-hundred-fifty-pound PBNX warhead just as the ADCAP was beneath the sub’s operations compartment.
The vicious shock wave tore through the double hull as if it were little more than tissue paper. Most of the superheated gas bubble vented through the rent in the sub’s bottom, incinerating most anything it touched as it ripped and tore through bulkheads.
The crew members on the Volk had less than a millisecond to realize what had happened. Igor Serebnitskiv was thrown violently upward and across the control room. He had no chance to grab anything. He was brutally impaled on a protruding valve stem, high up on the outboard bulkhead.
Admiral Alexander Durov’s nephew died instantly.
Even if the catastrophic explosion had not been enough, the expanding gas bubble it set off lifted the Volk upward like some child’s toy and crushed it against the ice pack above.
Smashed and mortally violated, the mangled, lifeless hulk sank to the bottom of the cold, cruel sea.
“Torpedoes passed astern!” Tommy Zillich yelled as he listened to the headset, his hands pressing the earpieces closer to his ears so he could hear everything going on out there. “We may be clear!”
Toledo was still angling sharply downward, toward the bottom, racing to get clear of the Russian weapons. They had all heard the deep rumble of the other submarine as it exploded. Now the control room was silent, everyone listening for the high-pitched scream of the incoming weapons.
That sound, as all the men aboard knew, would signal their immediate death.
A few of them breathed a sigh of relief when they heard Zillich’s report. Glass knew better. They weren’t free yet. Those two torpedoes were still out there, still searching doggedly for them.
The sonar man confirmed his worst fears.
“Torpedoes! Both coming out of the baffles!” Zillich yelled over the 7MC. Now he had lost his calm demeanor. His voice was high and strained. “They’re closing!”
The Russian weapons had crossed astern of them and then turned back, looking once again for Toledo. They were both still relentlessly coming after them.
“COB, get me thirty feet off the bottom!” Glass ordered Sam Wallich. “Do it now!”
Wallich nodded and turned to his helmsman and his planesman. “Okay, guys. It’s up to us. Keep the forty-down angle until I tell you. Then pull out with everything you got.”
Wallich stared hard at the depth meter as it reeled off the numbers. It was too late to pray that the gauge was calibrated, that the chart was accurate, but he did anyway.
Hitting the bottom at this speed would be like driving a 747 into a granite mountain. There wouldn’t be much left of a fine American submarine and its crew.
It seemed they had been diving forever before Wallich screamed, “Pull up now!”
Somehow, the Toledo managed to stop her sharp descent and pull out of the dive a few precious feet before her nose would have burrowed into the muddy bottom of the Barents Sea. With her momentum still at a maximum, she raced blindly across the sea floor, the screw kicking up a thick cloud of mud in its wake. No one wanted to ponder the possibility of a rocky crag or sudden undersea hillock popping up in their path.
Edwards could hold it no longer. “Skipper, suggest we come up to—”
“Hold her where she is! Stay on the bottom!” Glass ordered.”
Don and I hope that the explanation of how and why we write like we do and the excerpts from FIRING POINT that we included in this article have piqued your interest. We look forward to hearing your comments and critiques.
FIRING POINT will be published 3 July by Penguin/Signet and available wherever books are sold. A major motion picture based on the book is now in pre-production. FINAL BEARING is available in hardback, paperback, and as a Kindle ebook at Amazon.com.
Reviewed by Elliott Grollman
For Homeland Defense Journal Online
“Final Bearing” is a modern day thriller involving military special operations, naval submarine warfare, organized crime and narcoterrorism. The cast of characters could come right out of today’s headlines.
Narcoterrorists in South America, not satisfied with their efforts in their homeland, decide to target the United States for its counterdrug efforts with a new deadly designer drug.
When U.S. intelligence gains wind of the plan, the Navy launches a secret military operation with one of it crack SEAL teams and the attack sub Spadefish, which is on its final mission. Its mission: Enter the war on drugs and take out the source.
At the same time, a DEA agent with connections to Colombia and a personal score to settle wages his own counter-drug operation against the group in the United States. Casualties mount as each side races to out maneuver the other. Leaks from both sides set deadly traps for the other. Both sides speed forward in their campaign with the lives of many in the balance.
The story is fast paced, exciting and one you don’t want to put down until the end. A classic modern day story of man and technology in the battle of good vs. evil.
Elliott Grollman is a retired U.S. Army Reserve major and adjunct professor of criminal justice.
Novelist Keith and retired submariner Wallace agreeably join forces in
this thriller of submarines versus drug lord Juan de Santiago, whose ambitions
seem to run to being a Colombian Saddam Hussein. Facing him are a DEA agent who
has been fighting Santiago for years, and Bill Beaman, the leader of a team of
Navy SEALs operating off the aging attack submarine Spadefish, commanded by
Jonathan Ward. The action proceeds and in some places wanders from Colombia to
Seattle, Washington, and across the land and under the sea, too, realizing a
full quota of vivid combat scenes and a comparatively high body count along the
way. Disbelief that drug-lord dictators could find high-tech subs handy must be
suspended, but once it is, heck, relax and enjoy. And if you’re aware of what
sailors feel when a beloved ship reaches the end of her career, the book
eventually achieves real power. Above average for its salty breed.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
The movie rights to this complex submarine thriller have already been sold–no surprise; the plot unfolds like a summer blockbuster. Initially, though, Wallace and Keith (the duo behind Final Bearing) take their time immersing readers in a not-so-distant future balanced precariously between the Cold War and World War III. Rogue Russian Admiral Alexander Durov conspires to restore Russia to its Soviet Union-era ranking as the world’s most potent military force. His mission: detonate explosives secretly placed onboard one of the country’s submarines while it cruises deep beneath the ice-covered Barents Sea, and then blame the aggression on the United States. Meanwhile on land, the Russian mafia seeks to disrupt and destroy the U.S. stock market so as to divert attention from Durov’s attempted coup. By the book’s halfway point, scenes alternate quickly between above and below sea level, as the financial cabal unravels and an untested American submarine crew led by Joe Glass (one of the book’s few truly likeable characters) battles the rogue Russians. Following a frigid showdown in the Arctic Circle, Wallace (a former U.S. Navy commander with 22 years of experience on nuclear subs) and Keith quickly tie up loose ends, but the book’s length and an overabundance of characters–many with complicated Russian names–may frustrate readers. (July)
Commander George Wallace, USN (Retired) spent twenty-two years aboard
nuclear submarines. Wallace served on two of Admiral Rickover’s “Forty One for
Freedom”, the USS John Adams (SSBN 620) and the USS Woodrow Wilson (SSBN 624),
making nine 100-day deterrent patrols through the height of the Cold War. The
Sturgeon-class nuclear submarine Spadefish (SSN 668), on which Wallace served
as Executive Officer, served as the inspiration for his debut novel, Final
Bearing, which he co-authored with Don Keith. As skipper of the 668 attack
submarine USS Houston, Wallace invented the swimmer lock-out procedure for
668-class submarines used by Navy SEALs, and worked extensively with the SEAL
community to develop SEAL/submarine tactics. Wallace responded to Bowsprit’s
questions from his home near Los Angeles, where he writes and lives with his
Have you always been interested in the sea?
Yes. That probably sounds a little funny considering that I grew up on a
farm in Ohio. But if you check the rosters of most of the Navy ships, you’ll
find a large percentage of the crews are farm boys from the Midwest.
How did you decide on a naval career?
Probably not until after I had served my first tour on a sub. I joined
Navy ROTC in college at Ohio State with the intention of serving what I felt,
and still feel, was my military obligation as a citizen. Then the plan was then
work as an engineer in the civilian world. I found out that I really love
driving ships at sea, and more important, working with the great guys on the
boats. You won’t find a tighter team or closer family than a sub crew out on a
When did you set your goal to serve in and later
command in the nuclear submarine service?
This was really a two-step decision. I decided to try for submarines
when I was first commissioned. Later, when I found out that subs were the life
for me was when I really set my sights on command.
What moved you to write nautical
I have spent a lot of time telling sea stories and explaining what it’s
like to serve on a sub. What sailor doesn’t tell sea stories? I wanted to tell
what it is like to serve on modern nuke boats and to give the reader an idea of
what really goes on. The missions were much too highly classified to ever tell,
so that left fiction. Along the same lines, I spent a great deal of the early
90s working with the SEAL teams in San Diego to develop SEAL-sub tactics. It
was natural to make this a major element in our stories.
How did you select the US Navy role in South
American drug interdiction for Final Bearing?
There were a number of events that led to this selection. Don, Robbie,
and I were looking for a topical story where we could tell a good, exciting
tale while describing some of the submarine and SEAL operations and
capabilities that I was familiar with. We wanted it to be relevant, believable,
and timely. When we started almost three years ago, we didn’t have any idea
just how timely this story would be. A quick review of the news over the last
several weeks reads almost like Juan de Santiago at work.
When I was in command of Houston, one of my fellow Commanding Officers
was sent down to patrol off of South America for anti-drug operations. Can’t
really tell you what or who. SUBPAC totally forgot he was out there. He had to
send a message to remind them to order him home. That got me started down the
path. A news story a few years ago about the Colombian Army finding a mini-sub
in a warehouse eight thousand feet up in the Andes added the extra touch we
needed. What would happen if the drug lords really got the boat in the water
and tried to use it?
About the same time, the last Sturgeon class sub was decommissioned as
a result of Clinton’s slashing of the submarine fleet. These were great, highly
capable boats that would do pretty much anything you asked them to do. Making
the story a tribute to the last patrol for one of them just seemed natural.
How do you research Final Bearing?
Well, the submarining doesn’t take a whole lot of research. I was the
Executive Officer on Spadefish, the sub in Final Bearing, back in the 80s. The
biggest problems there are what am I allowed to tell the reader without telling
classified information and how do I tell the details of the operations, the
how’s and why’s, without boring the reader in an overwhelming flood of
information. A four-page dissertation explaining the operation of a Mark 48
ADCAP torpedo just doesn’t flow well when the characters are trying to sink a
ship. It’s a fine balance between giving the reader enough information to keep
the story engaging and overdoing it.
A lot of the location details, particularly regarding the Columbian and
Peruvian Andes, were obtained using web searches. There is an amazing amount of
information there. For instance, in the scene where the Spetsnaz swimmers try
to steal plans from the Karlskrona Naval Base, information on Spetsnaz swimmer
gear, Swedish patrol boat weapons, even a detailed chart of Karlskrona were all
on the web.
The plot took a good bit of research, too. This was more along the
lines of, we had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to story to go, but was
it possible? For instance, getting De Fuka from Columbia to Hong Kong. It turns
out from web searches that the only flights are either through the US or
London. That information led to adding some interesting (I hope) details for
the story that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
How did you and Don Keith connect as
Actually we share an agent, Robbie Robison. Robbie is an old diesel
boat sailor who seems to have a soft spot for other old submariners. He came up
with the idea of Don and I teaming on a book. He introduced the two of us over
the telephone. We actually didn’t meet face-to-face until after we had finished
Final Bearing and were almost finished with the sequel. Email and the Internet
make it all possible.
The three of us seems to make a very good team. The connection is
natural. On the writing, either Don or I would be very hard pressed to tell you
who wrote what.
The typical flow is that we agree on a basic plot line, usually a two-
to three-page synopsis of where we think the story is going. I’ll write a
chapter. Don will then fill in color and character development. We will go
through a couple of iterations before we are happy with the chapter. Then on to
the next. We have surprisingly little re-writing when the manuscript is
finished. Every- thing is done on line. The first time the story sees paper is
when we send it off to our publisher, TOR.
What can you tell us about Final Bearing without
spoiling it for readers?
Well, I’ve kind of dropped several hints about the story already.
If you have read the news from Colombia over the last few months, you’d
swear that Juan de Santiago was alive and back in business. Juan is the
demented, brilliant revolutionary leader and narco-terrorist who is fighting to
free his people and make himself wildly rich at the same time. His secret
weapons are a highly addictive form of coke and a mini-sub to smuggle the stuff
into the US.
Arrayed against him are a discredited DEA agent, an aging nuclear sub
on her last mission before the scrap yard and a never-say-die SEAL team.
The plot stretches from the steamy mountain jungles of Colombia to
Puget Sound and most of the water in between. I think I can safely say that if
you ever rode the boats, you’ll feel at home on Spadefish and SEAL friends have
told me that they felt like they were diving through the clouds when they read
the HALO jump scene.
What can you tell us about your next
I’m really excited about it.
We go up north, to the Barents and the Kola. The Russian Navy is
staging a resurgence and attempting a coup against the ineffectual elected
At the same time we fold in a major computer attack on the stock
market. After retiring from the Navy, I spent a great deal of time working on
stock market technology. This is a “what-if” based on that experience.
Is there anything else you would like to share with
If you like submarine stories, techno-thrillers, or just a good story,
read Final Bearing. And, as my agent says, you’ll do your part to keep an old
submariner off welfare. I’m not sure if he is talking about me or him.
By Brian McGee
News Herald Staff Writer
Recently, Wallace co-authored a fictional novel called “Final Bearing” that describes what could happen based upon what his experiences in the Navy.
“I thought about it for a very long time,” he said. “People seem to enjoy talking about their life experiences through writing.”
Because much of what Wallace experienced is classified information, he believed it would be best to write a fictional novel.
“It would have been very difficult to write a real-life story,” he said. “You can’t talk about missions or ship capabilities.”
The process of finding an agent did not exactly start out smoothly. Finding representation for the first manuscript took six months and several hundred letters to different agents. Having accomplished that hurdle, Wallace still had to find a publisher.
“We were very lucky on that,” he said. “The typical statistics are that 95 percent of first-time authors never find an agent and the 5 percent that do, but 95 percent of those do not find a publisher.”
The agent that he eventually found, Robby Robison, rejected his first proposal.
“He is a former submarine from the 1950s,” Wallace said. “He declined on my first manuscript, but on my other one he suggested I team up with Don Keith.
“It was remarkably easy. I had never met Don, and he had no military experience but had written a couple of novels. I had a four- or five-page story that we agreed on. I wrote a chapter and sent it to Don. He would (edit) it and send it back. We reiterated that two or three times for about nine months. The working relationship was very smooth.”
Keith, a broadcaster and novelist, wrote “The Forever Season,” which was named the 1997 Fiction Award Winner by the Alabama Library Association.
“I’m guessing (the agent) thought we would be a good match to work together,” Wallace said. “Don’s very good at putting color into scenes and characters, particularly putting conversations together.”
In the book, Wallace draws on his many experiences from his Navy career and part of the plot deals with the Colombian drug wars. He served on two of Admiral Rickover’s famous “Forty-one for Freedom,” the USS John Adams SSBN 620 and the USS Woodrow Wilson SSBN 624, where he made nine 100-day deterrent patrols through the height of the Cold War.
Wallace served as executive officer on the Sturgeon Class nuclear submarine, Spadefish. The Spadefish and her sisters were decommissioned during the downsizing of the 1990s. The passing of the ship served as the inspiration for “Final Bearing.”
He also commanded the Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine, USS Houston SSN 713, from February 1990 to August 1992. During his tour of duty, he worked extensively with the SEAL community developing SEAL/submarine tactics. Under Wallace’s command, the Houston was awarded the CIA Meritorious Unit Citation.
Another highlight of his career included meeting author Tom Clancy. The movie “Hunt for Red October,” based upon Clancy’s novel, was filmed on the USS Houston. Wallace took command after the movie was completed.
“Final Bearing” is a portion of a three-part series. The second book is completed in manuscript form with a tentative release date set for sometime next year. Meanwhile, the third manuscript is half-finished.
He currently resides in Granada Hills, Calif., with his wife Penny. Wallace will be returning to Harrison County this month for a family reunion and will participate in a book signing at the Puskarich Library in Cadiz. No date has been announced.
Book information is available at www.finalbearing.com. Copies of the novel can be purchased through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.