Adventure Writer Jim Clash Communes With Icons of the ’70s and ’80s In “The Right Stuff”by Logical Lizard on Sep. 23, 2013, under Astronomy & Space Program, Cinema & TV, Technology, Writers and Writing
Every now and then we meet someone, by chance, and know immediately, instinctively, and without a shadow of a doubt that we are going to be friends and end up working on exciting projects together at some point in the future. Such was the case when I first spoke with Jim Clash.
Of course, I knew Jim by reputation (in my line of work it would be difficult not to), adventurer and adventure writer extraordinaire, mover and shaker with the Explorers Club, author of several books and a popular column for Forbes magazine. I was, therefore, somewhat in awe when he contacted me during the spring of 2009. With a boyish enthusiasm he vigorously related how much he had enjoyed watching the pilot episode of my (at the time, brand new) television series Meteorite Men and could he please accompany us on a future expedition with the aim of writing a piece about us for the Explorers Club Journal. I was amazed and delighted! I immediately said yes, and then later found out that such decisions were not actually up to me.
Production companies are, by and large, more than a little uncomfortable allowing writers on location and there are many reasons for this (liability, the chance of one or more host/actors having a meltdown in front of the press, and so forth), but I gently assured our TV colleagues that Jim was a world-class writer and that it would be an honor to have him join us during filming. I gently applied a little additional pressure by stating: “Do you realize that Jim’s two most recent interviews were with Chuck Yeager and Neil Armstrong? And now he wants to do a piece about us!” After much discussion it was all given a green light and Jim accompanied the Meteorite Men on our Season One expedition to the Odessa Crater in Texas, at which time Jim found his own first space rock. People like Jim who have, for example, been to the South Pole, and to the North Pole (twice!), driven a Bugatti Veyron at 253 miles per hour, climbed the Matterhorn, or flown a Mig-25 fighter jet just for fun, do not get to enjoy enthralling new experiences every day, so I was rather pleased that I was able to assist Jim with crossing one item of his (now, rather short) bucket list.
Later, Jim proposed me for membership in the Explorers Club and I was accepted (an “enthralling new experience” for me, it was). And then, late last year, Jim asked if I would consider writing the Foreword for his latest book, The Right Stuff: Interviews with Icons of the 1970s and 1980s. I was flattered, and jumped at the chance.
I say all of this in the interests of disclosure, so the reader will know that Jim is a personal friend but that is not why I like his work. If you read your friend’s new book and do not much care for it, you might reluctantly say something along the lines of: “Umm, it was very interesting.”
If you read your friend’s new book and love it, you write the Foreword:
“It is a testament to Jim’s abilities as an interviewer that — even though I have little interest in sports — I found the discussions with Formula 1 driver Sir Jackie Stewart and boxer Joe Frazier every bit as fascinating as the ones with personal heroes such as Apollo Flight Director Gene Krantz and astronaut/artist Alan Bean. The interviews presented here give a unique and personal insight into the lives of the some of the most extraordinary achievers and personalities of our era. The diversity of experience shared in this book, together with the thoughtful and informed questions posed by Jim, demonstrate that much as the subjects of these engrossing conversations have the right stuff, so does the interviewer.”
The Right Stuff is an exciting read and an enlightening one too, in that it reminds the reader — in the shadow of a savage civil war in Syria and seemingly non-stop mass shootings in the United States — that the human race does sometimes produce great people who do great things. It is a candid behind-the-scenes look at the lives of doers — those who left the ordinary world far behind in search of adventure, fame, knowledge, or just good old high speed vehicles. The Right Stuff is also unusual, perhaps unique, because it consists of not just interviews conducted by an accomplished writer, but rather a series of personal conversations between one adventurer and another. You can feel the mutual respect within the words.
And, evidently, the adventure will continue: On October 21, I shall be Jim Clash’s guest on “Exploring Legends,” an interview series live from the Explorers Club in New York City. I’ll be re-reading The Right Stuff: Interviews with Icons of the 1970s and 1980s on the plane flight out, just to get myself in the right frame of mind for a conversation with someone who has seen, and done, pretty much everything.
The Right Stuff: Interviews with Icons of the 1970s and 1980s is available on Kindle via Amazon. The hard copy is published by AskMen of Montreal and is 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 and 124 pages. ISBN 978-1-927718-02-5
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