Paragliding prompts Issaquah author’s book to take flight

July 26, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Issaquah author Clark McCann readily admits that lowering his sights helped him reach his goal of getting his first novel into print.

Issaquah author Clark McCann said when he was younger he used to write poetry for ‘little magazines’ that nobody read. By Tom Corrigan

“I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to try to create art,’” said McCann, who added he likes thrillers, is an avid paraglider pilot and has spent time in Mexico.

So his novel “Black Air,” published this spring by Black Rose Writing, is a fictional thriller about Tom Shepard, a combat veteran and paraglider pilot who travels to Mexico for an international paragliding event and ends up crossing paths with a local drug dealer. After being framed for murder, Shepard spends the rest of the novel hunting for the man who set him up and, as any good hero would, winning the girl he meets along the way.

McCann said that even though he wasn’t out to write the Great American Novel with “Black Air,” he took the time to carefully plot out the book before he started writing. McCann added he had tried to write novels in his youth, but often “wrote himself into a corner” or just gave up.

A seemingly young 68, McCann spent the largest part of his professional life writing in one way or another. He served as director of communications for the University of Washington Business School and while at The Boeing Co., wrote speeches for the firm’s corporate leaders, as well as creating things like annual reports. He also worked as Boeing’s corporate director of advertising.

“When I retired, I knew I’d kind of go crazy if I didn’t do something with my time,” McCann said. “So I just decided to write a novel.”

After mapping out the plot, McCann spent about a year writing “Black Air.” He found he couldn’t work at home, that he was too used to a commute, to going out somewhere every day. So McCann would spend three or four hours every morning at the Bellevue Library using the facility’s computers to bang out his writing. He added he spent many an afternoon pursuing his other passions, namely hiking and paragliding.

Before he started his career in corporate communications, McCann said he hoped to be an airline pilot. For a time, he ended up in Australia working as a bush pilot. Following his retirement, he investigated renewing his pilot’s license. That prospect proved too expensive, so he instead hit upon the idea of paragliding.

As many know, Issaquah is a local center for paragliding activity, with gliders visible above Tiger Mountain on many a sunny day.

By the way, McCann was 63 when he first took to the skies with his glider.

“It just seemed like an adventurous thing to do, but not too costly,” he said.

As he worked on “Black Air,” McCann said he assumed he’d end up self-publishing the work. He said that thanks to the Internet and desktop publishing, self-published books don’t carry the stigma they did in the past. Still, McCann said he was very happy to find a small press willing to take on his novel.

“I can’t say sales have been spectacular,” he said. But he also added that he felt a great sense of accomplishment just by finishing the book and seeing it in print.

McCann isn’t sure if he has a second book in him or not. He said he is kind of tired of the thriller genre and admits he wants to adjust his aim again, this time toward something maybe a little more literary. McCann also admitted he’s having trouble getting started.

“I think I’ve got to get it going in the next month or two, or it might not happen,” he said.

What to know

‘Black Air’ is available online at and the Barnes & Noble website, It also can be found at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Co.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext 241, or Comment at

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