Back to Top


Local author, Jim McCulloch, will be visiting Jan's Paperbacks this Saturday 2/7 from 1-4pm, but today he is our guest blogger.  Enjoy...



The most frequent question I’m asked about Fracture Gradient involves the energy industry culture I portrayed in the book. Usually something like, “You describe the energy industry as a very aggressive, male dominated place that is full of military veterans who are okay with resorting to violence to solve problems. They swear, drink, smoke, and behave in a fashion not really acceptable in most industries. Is it really like that?”

Having worked there through most of the 1980’s, I can only reply that is was like that, and I’m not sure how much it has changed in the intervening years. It was full of risk-takers, adventurers, and adrenaline junkies that enjoyed a robust lifestyle. My company employed a lot of military veterans who couldn’t imagine being tied to a desk in a suit and tie. Like the military, those closest to the action were a little rougher but even the regional and corporate office employees who had field experience chaffed at their buttoned collars and retained a certain robustness of character that set them apart from the rest of the office staff. Leadership positions at all levels were filled with talented, results-oriented, Type A personalities with an unmistakable physical presence and record of accomplishment.   

As in Fracture Gradient, we had a corporate security department headed by a recently retired FBI agent and manned by a mix of former law enforcement people hailing from various federal, state, and local agencies. The executive protection detail was headed by a former Secret Service agent who made many an employee a little nervous to be around. Our offshore drilling subsidiary had a number of former Navy Underwater Demolition Team members and a SEAL working on the offshore drilling rigs. On a broader scale, the company also actively recruited military vets at all levels which resulted in a competitive, sometimes harsh, and always results-driven workforce that embraced the dangerous environment that existed around the clock every day of the year. It was full of hard chargers who worked hard, played harder, and didn’t take much guff from anyone.

If anything, I diluted the language and general behavior to better suit the story to a general audience of more enlightened souls. If you valued political correctness, gentility, and sensitivity, you would not have fared well in the 1980’s oil business. In fact, you would have likely viewed it as a world dominated by accomplished jocks and playground bullies where quick minds and quicker fists were often the best defense.   

So yes, it was pretty much as described.


Duluth, Minnesota, is my home town. I lived and worked there until graduating from the University of Minnesota with double majors in Business Administration and Accounting. My wife and I now make our home in Oregon. Like many of my generation, and as millions before and since, I served in the military. Serving our country changed the way I view life, and was a significant learning experience that has never quite left me. One of my favorite hobbies is radio communication technology, and my wife and I both hold Extra class amateur radio licenses.

My business career has spanned a variety of industries including oil & gas, and roles ranging from financial management, to operations management, to senior corporate executive. All were interesting and some were a real kick. Each job and industry brought new challenges and positive change to my life. My wife and I have been assigned, moved, and transferred many times through the years, and have benefited from the regional and cultural diversity we’ve encountered.

Since childhood, I’ve been a voracious reader. While my tastes have shifted and broadened over the years, getting lost in a good action adventure story is one of my favorite distractions. I suppose there is some Walter Mitty phenomenon causing this . . . and that’s not all bad. My personal favorites generally feature protagonists who are regular people rather than Special Forces super-soldiers, Navy SEALS, hot-shot fighter pilots, or ninjas of any ilk. Pulling for the resolute and courageous common man is somehow more fun and engaging, at least for me. That’s what you’ll find in Fracture Gradient.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the story.

About the author