George Galdorisi, Background
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, military author George Galdorisi had zero plans of ever becoming a writer. But, in the immortal words included in the late John Lennon’s song Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”
Galdorisi, a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, a public high school that specializes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, always had a thirst for adventure, which led him to the United States Naval Academy. When he graduated from the Academy in 1970, he had no intentions of making the military a career, but, once again John Lennon’s prophetic lyrics applied. He says of his decision to stay in after his initial commitment was over, “I was having so much fun, and it went by so fast that I just kept doing it,” he says.
After serving as a naval officer for thirty years, Captain Galdorisi retired in 2000, ready for his next adventure. During his distinguished tenure as a naval aviator, Galdorisi furthered his education, earning a masters of oceanography degree from the Naval Postgraduate School as well as a masters of international affairs degree from the University of San Diego. Both advanced degrees, along with years of experience flying helicopters in the Navy, no doubt helped Galdorisi as he began to pursue the “hobby” of becoming a bestselling author.
During his first tour, where he flew search and rescue aboard the Pensacola-based USS LEXINGTON, Galdorisi met his wife Becky, a school teacher. There’s an expression, “Home is where the Navy sends you,” and from there, the couple, joined by their children Brian and Laura, moved to Monterey, CA, Norfolk, VA, Newport, RI, and Washington, D.C. When the Navy relocated the Galdorisi family to Coronado in 1983, they had no idea that the Crown City would become their forever home.
For the last 17 years of Galdorisi’s naval career, he and his family were stationed in Coronado. “We were very lucky. What’s not to like?” he says of the opportunity to be stationed here for such an extended period of time. Brian and Laura, who were in elementary school when the family arrived in Coronado, were both able to graduate from Coronado High School, and Becky, who taught at Village Elementary from 1992-2007, loved her job.
As his naval career came to end, Galdorisi contemplated employment prospects elsewhere, but ultimately he and his wife decided that they couldn’t bring themselves to leave the place they had grown to love, where the majority of their children’s formative years were spent building memories. “There were job opportunities other places, but, on balance, staying here and embarking on a second career made a lot of sense,” he reflects.
As a civilian, Galdorisi began working for the Navy’s C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Center of Excellence in San Diego, and is presently the Director of Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures. “It’s kind of a hoot of a job,” he laughs, clearly passionate about the second career he began 17 years ago.
While the job is undoubtedly complex, Galdorisi, in a nutshell, explains, “We basically do strategic, long-range foresight in terms of: What kind of technology should we be working on? What kind of people should we be hiring to work on those technologies? We do a lot of work with unmanned systems.”
A Penchant for Writing
Galdorisi admits that attending the Naval Academy during the Cold War era left little room in his imagination in terms of writing for fun. With the Soviet threat looming, his education was focused on math and science rather than what they referred to at the Academy at the time as “bull courses.” He says, “Writing was something that was just very foreign, like why would you want to do that?”
As a young naval aviator, Galdorisi became an avid reader of professional journals. He recalls, “I came to the conclusion that if I wanted the chance to have something to say about my profession, then I needed to write for those journals.” In 1978, while still in the Navy, Galdorisi became a published author with an article in Proceedings magazine, the flagship of the U.S. Naval Institute. He has subsequently gone on to publish over 300 articles, earning prestigious writing awards for several, and continues writing for professional journals today.
The same man who never considered himself to be a writer, wound up publishing five nonfiction books pertaining to a variety of genres, including law, history, and military science. Many of Galdorisi’s nonfiction works were collaborations written with other authors. (For a list of Galdorisi’s nonfiction works, see additional information at the conclusion of article.)
Taking the Leap from Nonfiction to Fiction
Galdorisi had grown accustomed to writing nonfiction, but never considered writing fiction. That changed after his best friend from his Brooklyn days, Bill Bleich, a screenwriter also living in California, came to visit the Galdorisi family in Coronado one weekend.
Galdorisi and Bleich wound up watching what Galdorisi calls “a terribly, wretched Steven Seagal movie.” As Galdorisi ripped the plot apart, he asked Bleich, “Why don’t you write a screenplay for a better movie?” According to Galdorisi, Bleich replied, “Well, why don’t you write a novel?” As Galdorisi explained that he didn’t write novels, his friend began planting the seed that Galdorisi might want to consider stepping outside his comfort zone to write works of fiction. He reflects, “I had never had the aspiration to write a novel. It just kind of happened accidentally.”
With support from Bleich, Galdorisi got to work on his first novel, The Coronado Conspiracy, sending queries out to scores of agents and publishers. When one publisher responded, asking Galdorisi to send him the first three chapters, he was elated. After reviewing those chapters, Galdorisi got the call with the six words he’d been hoping to hear, “We want to buy your book!” Of course, Galdorisi couldn’t wait to share the news with his best friend Bleich, who reveled in his friend’s success.
The Coronado Conspiracy (Take Two)
Believe it or not, Galdorisi’s first novel is also his newest! The original version of The Coronado Conspiracy, an Avon mass paperback, was published in 1998. The sequel, For Duty and Honor, was then published in 2000. Due to a publishing term known as reversion of rights, where the publisher no longer owns the rights to the book, Galdorisi was recently able to revamp his first two novels, updating the stories in terms of technology, military equipment, and international relations. Essentially, it’s tantamount to when a movie is remade to reflect a more modern setting than that of the original film.
“You can imagine, with a book I wrote almost 20 years ago, all the things I had to change. It’s the same high-concept and same characters, but much more contemporary,” Galdorisi says.
The Coronado Conspiracy was just released by Braveship Books earlier this summer, and a revamped version of For Duty and Honor will be published sometime in 2018. Galdorisi says a military background is definitely not a prerequisite for reading his novel. The main character of both The Coronado Conspiracy and For Duty and Honor, Rick Holden, is a former CIA operative who is now undercover as a US Navy SEAL. Of his book, Galdorisi likens it to a combination of movies, saying, “It’s like Clear and Present Danger meets No Way Out. It’s drug cartel focused, and the people trying to uncover the crime become suspects themselves.”
Galdorisi chose the title The Coronado Conspiracy not only because he already lived here when he wrote it, but also because the USS CORONADO, which was stationed here when he originally wrote the novel, was the flagship for the U.S. Third Fleet at the time. In his book, the name of the ship is the USS CORONADO.
Is Galdorisi considering writing a third Rick Holden story? Yes! “I don’t have a high-concept yet, but I have lots of ideas,” he shares. “That’s probably a 2018 project I’ll work on,” he adds.
While there are no specific book signings planned for The Coronado Conspiracy yet, Galdorisi, who has done book signings at Bay Books before, is always eager to talk with his readers, and would gladly consider a book signing in the future. “I always like interacting with my readers,” he says, laughing as he adds, “especially when they say, ‘I loved everything about your book except . . . ‘” In good humor, Galdorisi says, “If you write 80,000 words and it’s perfect, then you’re luckier than you have any right to be.”
Galdorisi Authoring Tom Clancy’s Op-Center Series
Fans of Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series will recognize George Galdorisi’s name as one of the writers of the popular novel series, but few people actually know how Galdorisi became involved with it. Even before bestselling author Tom Clancy, who wrote thrillers such as The Hunt for Red October as well as Clear and Present Danger, passed away in 2013, he created two spin-off series, where his name, synonymous with espionage and military-science thrillers, would be boldly featured while the names of the authors who penned the series would not be featured as prominently.
When Galdorisi and fellow Naval Academy alum Dick Couch (class of 1967) were invited to preview the movie Act of Valor before it was released, they were so inspired by it that they felt compelled to inquire who would be doing the novelization of the screenplay. Calling the movie about Navy SEALs “the most riveting movie I’ve ever seen,” Galdorisi was eager to collaborate with Couch. A former Navy SEAL and former CIA operative, Couch, like Galdorisi had become a writer, and just so happened to be Galdorisi’s favorite author. The pair’s collaboration, Tom Clancy Presents Act of Valor, became a bestselling novel, released six weeks before the film’s official debut in 2012.
The first 12 books of the Op-Center series were written by Jeff Rovin between 1995 and 2005. Although wildly successful, the series eventually faded away. When discussions came up about rebooting the series, Galdorisi and Couch were interviewed, and because of the success of their Tom Clancy Presents Act of Valor collaboration, were chosen to continue writing the Op-Center series.
The Tom Clancy series books Galdorisi has written have all been highly acclaimed by The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly, and with a combination of humility and jest, Galdorisi says, “That’s in large part due to Tom Clancy’s name being so large on the covers and our names appearing smaller.” The first two Op-Center books he wrote were written with Couch, and the third one, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth, published in 2016, was written exclusively by Galdorisi. For the fourth book, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Dark Zone, due to be released in 2017, Galdorisi paired up with the original Op-Center author, Jeff Rovin.
Galdorisi says that he feels blessed to have had the opportunity to write for this series. “The whole D.O.D. (Department of Defense) view of the world has changed tremendously in the last two years,” Galdorisi says, noting how the threat baseline of four-plus-one (China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia plus ISIS) is so much more complicated than when he started out in the Navy during the Cold War. He explains, “The Op-Center series was prescient in embracing this new paradigm,” noting that the series has continued to evolve as international relations and tensions continue to grow more tenuous. Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth is about ISIS, and Galdorisi comments, “I think ISIS is the most complex threat that we as a nation have ever been faced with.”
Whether Galdorisi will write future stories for the Op-Center series remains to be seen. Galdorisi, with lots of ideas already, says he is willing to keep the series going if invited to do so.
Galdorisi’s Advice for Aspiring Writers
For the past three years, through Coronado Adult Education classes, Galdorisi has shared his writing wisdom with locals with his Get Published Now! presentations, saying, “I enjoy giving back.” After living in the community for over 30 years, Galdorisi explains he started his seminars because, as he would bump into friends throughout town, people would frequently ask him for his opinions regarding what they had already written or were contemplating writing. He shares, “I thought if I could package my writing tips together in a meaningful way, it would resonate more with people.”
The most important advice he gives to aspiring writers is, “Decide why you want to write, and then from there decide what you want to write. Write for the right reasons. If you’re not passionate about a topic, then don’t write about it. There’s an old saying, ‘No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.’ If you’re just coloring in the lines, you’re probably not going to engage your readers.”
Galdorisi continues, touching on the age-old wisdom imparted on young writers in school, “Have fun with it, and write what you know. If you fake too many details, that’s the fastest way to lose your readership.” As a novelist who writes about such technical aspects of the military, Galdorisi knows people pay close attention, and put their trust in him to be honest about the equipment and technology he describes.
Galdorisi’s blog, a community resource featured on his website, is where his readers as well as budding writers and those interested in learning more about national security affairs can go to read Galdorisi’s thoughts on current events, national security, book news, writing tips, wired technology, and devastating innovation. “There are subjects that I’m interested in that I put in my blog that are archived so they don’t disappear or get lost like emails do,” he shares. “I find a lot of people go to my blog because they’re interested in one or more of those subjects. I love when people reach out, and comment on my posts, or follow up with questions they may have about particular subjects,” he says.
What’s Next for Author George Galdorisi?
“I’m writing a book with a former Ranger sniper, Paul Martinez. It’s akin to American Sniper by the late Chris Kyle. St. Martin’s Press is publishing it this spring, and it will be titled When the Killer Man Comes,” Galdorisi shares. “Rangers have a very different mission from any other special operations forces. They do direct action. If there’s a terrorist, they go and capture or kill him. The book was written with Paul, who saw some really hairy action as a Ranger sniper in Afghanistan in 2011.”
In the meanwhile, Galdorisi will continue working at the Navy’s C4ISR Center of Excellence in San Diego, keep up with his “hobby” of writing acclaimed bestsellers, and, most importantly, enjoy spending time with his family, especially his grandsons, Jack, Larkin, and Davis. With the O’Sullivan boys living only five blocks away from Galdorisi’s home, he refers to Coronado as “grandparent heaven.”
Nonfiction Works Written by George Galdorisi
- 1994 (Law): The United States and the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention: The Cases Pro & Con (Law of the Sea Institute: Occasional Paper, No 38)
- 1997 (History): Beyond the Law of the Sea: New Directions for U.S. Oceans Policy
- 2008 (Military Science): Networking the Global Maritime Partnership: Sea Power Series
- 2009 (History): Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue
- 2012 (History): The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind