David Morrell is the award-winning author of First Blood, the novel in which Rambo was created. He was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. In 1960, at the age of seventeen, he became a fan of the classic television series, Route 66, about two young men in a Corvette convertible traveling the United States in search of America and themselves. The scripts by Stirling Silliphant so impressed Morrell that he decided to become a writer. (Click here to read Morrell’s essay on the series.)
In 1966, the work of another writer (Hemingway scholar Philip Young) prompted Morrell to move to the United States, where he studied with Young at Penn State and received his M.A. and Ph. D. in American literature. There, he also met the esteemed science-fiction author William Tenn (real name Philip Klass), who taught Morrell the basics of fiction writing. The result was First Blood, a ground-breaking novel about a returned Vietnam veteran suffering from post-trauma stress disorder who comes into conflict with a small-town police chief and fights his own version of the Vietnam War.
That “father” of modern action novels was published in 1972 while Morrell was a professor in the English department at the University of Iowa. He taught American literature there from 1970 to 1986, simultaneously writing other novels, many of them international bestsellers, including the classic spy trilogy, The Brotherhood of the Rose (the basis for the only television mini-series to premier after a Super Bowl), The Fraternity of the Stone, and The League of Night and Fog.
Eventually wearying of two professions, Morrell gave up his academic tenure in order to write full time. Shortly afterward, his fifteen-year-old son Matthew was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer and died in 1987, a loss that haunts not only Morrell’s life but his work, as in his memoir about Matthew, Fireflies, and his novel Desperate Measures, whose main character lost a son.
“The mild-mannered professor with the bloody-minded visions,” as one reviewer called him, Morrell is the author of more than thirty books, including such high-action thrillers as The Naked Edge, Creepers, and The Spy Who Came for Christmas (set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives). Always interested in different ways to tell a story, he wrote the six-part comic-book series, Captain America: The Chosen. His writing book, The Successful Novelist, analyzes what he has learned during his four decades as an author.
Morrell is a co-founder of the International Thriller Writers organization. Noted for his research, he is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School for wilderness survival as well as the G. Gordon Liddy Academy of Corporate Security. He is also an honorary lifetime member of the Special Operations Association and the Association of Intelligence Officers. He has been trained in firearms, hostage negotiation, assuming identities, executive protection, and defensive/offensive driving, among numerous other action skills that he describes in his novels. To research the aerial sequences in The Shimmer, he became a private pilot, the training for which he describes here. In 2010, he was with the first group of authors to be sent on a USO tour to a war zone (Iraq). Click here to view a short video of the tour.
Morrell is an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a three-time recipient of the distinguished Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association. The International Thriller Writers organization gave him its prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master Award. His short stories have appeared in numerous Year’s Best collections. With eighteen million copies in print, his work has been translated into twenty-six languages.