‘NCIS’ Actor David McCallum’s Path to Writing His 2016 Novel Started with His Childhood Home’s Bookcase

by Shelby Scott

“NCIS” actor David McCallum has made himself into a jack-of-all-trades throughout his long life. One of his 2016 worldly contributions saw the publication of his novel, Once A Crooked Man. Previously, the actor and now-writer has said that the book was a culmination of years of inspiration and procrastination. However, his overall desire to write began as his childhood home bookcase.

During a 2016 interview SHOTSMAG Confidential, McCallum stated that growing up, he had an intense love for reading.

“When I was growing up, there was an extensive library in our living room and I read all the books I could lay my hands on.”

Additionally, the actor grew to be a major fan of thrillers and mysteries. He said that the bookcase’s collection held many detective novels. And to no surprise, the collection included the Strand magazine which contained the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Much like McCallum’s role on “NCIS,” the actor and author has developed a unique style and voice. During the interview, he shared that he additionally “developed a personal style of writing,” as do many writers. In reference to finding his own voice and style, McCallum said, “This [was] quite a surprise to me and I only hope that in attempting to write a second book I can rediscover this again.”

Conclusively, McCallum took a relatively interesting approach to writing Once A Crooked Man. Following the manuscript’s trip in and out of drawers over the years, he finally decided that the story deserved to be told. From there, he determined to finish it.

The Beloved “NCIS” Star Put a Load of Research Into His Novel

True to both David McCallum and “NCIS” character Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard personality, the actor put tons of effort into research belying Once A Crooked Man. Just as the actor pursued research and experience in pathology and autopsies for his role in “NCIS,” he spent just as much time working with both the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and the State’s Attorney for upstate New York.

While the novel took root with an idea surrounding an actor that was handed $1 million in a suitcase, the plot took off from there. According to McCallum, he did more research than his novel truly required, however, every part was enjoyable.

And for those interested in reading McCallum’s premiere story, it contains a collection of subjects, themes, and characters. Those include investigators, criminal families, romance, security-related issues, and more.

David McCallum, Like All Writers, Frequently Acts as His Own Worst Critic

While David McCallum’s premiere novel has seen noteworthy success since its publication, it comes as no surprise that the “NCIS” actor serves as Once A Crooked Man‘s worst critic. Years ago, the actor and writer was inspired by author Jack Higgins, who also published numerous crime-based projects. McCallum said that, following his first attempts at beginning the novel, the work he initially began with was “pathetic.”

Further, one may assume that the actor’s long experience on the military crime show he currently works on would help to make his feat easier. However, McCallum claimed it was quite the opposite.

Additionally, it can be hard to separate yourself from a subject you know so well, making your story or any other written work complex for lay readers.