In 1990, Jimmy Olsen sold his dive shop, Florida scuba charter service and his dive wear manufacturing company and began writing mysteries. His first, Things In Ditches became a Number One regional bestseller and was selected by The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles as book-of-the-month for August, 2001. His second mystery, Poison Makers, didn’t appear until 2011, winning “Foreword Reviews” Book of the Year Silver Award, and a starred review in “Library Journal.” It remains in print in hardcover. Olsen took a break from mysteries the following year, 2012, and released the short story collection The Hero of Blind Pig Island and Other Island Stories. Since then he’s written three still unpublished mysteries: Thief River Falls, Sandamar Landing and a mystery/thriller, Seasons Of The Sun. He is writing sequels to Ditches and Poison Makers.
Jimmy Olsen’s interest in mysteries came at a young age. An avid reader, he subscribed to so many mystery book clubs that when he turned 17 and left home to “see the world” his parents were left with a mountain of books – more arriving daily – and an equally high mountain of bills, which they paid without complaint. He came from a family of readers.
Jimmy Olsen has been a scuba instructor with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) since 1973. Became a District Course Director in the 1980s before beginning to write fiction more seriously in the 90s. Olsen traveled to most of the world’s primary dive sites and in 1973 discovered the 1806 wreck of the Imperial, the largest warship in the world in that era, sunk by the British in battle February 6, 1806, not far from the city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Olsen kept the shipwreck site secret for years but eventually a salvage company discovered it and destroyed the wreck to extract $250-thousand in gold, which proved to be less than the cost of salvage. The wreck today is mostly destroyed and scattered. (The photo of Olsen on the Imperial’s huge anchor ring is a reminder of what was lost.)
Writing about these dives and other adventures has produced Scuba, a soon to be published adventure novel that includes the discovery of the Imperial wreck and other underwater events in the United States and the Caribbean.
People often think of an “adventurer” as someone seeking thrills, but a true adventurer is someone seeking discovery and learning. Educating yourself to the world you live in. One of those Americans who excelled at that was Louis L’Amour, whose adventure stories sold millions worldwide and still do. He wished to be remembered as a storyteller, he said, the man in the shadows of the campfire spinning a good tale. Jimmy Olsen wasn’t copying L’Amour, but he did leave home at seventeen and traveled for several years across oceans and to the other side of the world. He fought in Vietnam 1965 – 1967, diving in the South China Sea, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. After the war he settled with his family in his native Minnesota, then Santo Domingo, from there to Alabama, back to Minnesota, down to Florida and back again to the Caribbean. In Santo Domingo he began writing of the things he’d seen and places he’d traveled. He worked as a journalist, where he encountered the KKK, corrupt politicians, and once a very large, poisonous snake. A friend asked him why he seemed to have so many exciting stories. Jimmy said he never intended to, they just seemed to fall upon him. So, it made sense he thought, to write them down. And he’s still at it.