Les Fields | I intend to use my book as a means to increase the conversation about ocean ecology!

As a retired underwater photographer and diving operator, I was enjoying life at my ranch in Mendocino (Northern California). Having spent a thirty-year career travelling the world toting tons of dive and camera gear I was eager to stay put and reconnect with old friends. An important part of my retirement was managing the land and gardens of the ranch in the same fashion I had managed reefs and animal life in the ocean. Having won several awards for my work in the ocean I was excited to transfer those skills to land management. I also plan to use my credible voice in ecological issues to raise awareness of environmental concerns critical to the survival of the seas.



One day, while having lunch in the wine country with some old college friends, I was sharing stories from my diving career. A stranger from a nearby table stopped by on her way out of the restaurant. She apologized for eavesdropping but flat out encouraged me to write these stories for others to read. This had happened on other occasions as well.



Though flattered I could not consider a book. I didn’t want to write about mere diving adventures when there was a much larger story to be told. The problem I faced was that the larger story was secret and covered by the protocols attendant to classified Naval intelligence. The political blowback could be enormous too.


In 2014 I suffered a near fatal health event. I was given “last rights”. After numerous surgeries and a three-year recovery, I became persuaded that I had to write this book before I died. This event was an instant of inspiration. One of those moments of great clarity that sometimes occur and decide your direction. I am fully recovered and expect to live a very long time.



Through the book, I found a means by which to tell both diving stories and the story of clandestine activities associated with Cold War contract diving. When I first opened the box of books sent by Olympia I could not stop thinking, “the work is now just beginning”. My enthusiasm surged. I intend to use the book as a means to increase the conversation about ocean ecology. Author royalties are being shared with various non-profit environmental organizations. Accordingly, marketing efforts will be multilevel and active.


The writing process was both an absolute delight and an emotional catharsis. Reliving the diving adventures and all the fun we had was heartwarming indeed. Writing the parts relative to clandestine activities was a difficult process which often turned out to be quite painful.


As an adventure writer, I appreciate the work of authors who have actually lived the adventures they write about (Hemingway, London etc). Writers who wrote from recollection rather than pure imagination.



I encourage anyone with a story to tell to not forsake it. Get it done! Make a specific date with a page and dedicate time each day to tell your story. When the story is published, apply that same passion and commitment to marketing the book and the causes you believe in. No-one can sell a book better than the author. You must be hands on.


It is important to learn something about the publishing business in general. Absent a reasonable understanding of the commercial aspects of publishing, marketing and social media you are limiting the reach of the book. A basic understanding of the industry will help the author find the best niche in which to settle.



My library of over 17,000 underwater and marine photos will be used as rotating art in the website/social media effort. The artwork was shot during the 1980s and 90s. The ocean was more pristine and virgin when my portfolio was created. These shots tell their own story. I will be using photos taken in locations found in my book.



Get a copy of Derek Dell – Flash Before Your Eyes by Les Fields, here! 

11 Jul 2019