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Author Stephen Paul Coonts, born July 19, 1946, in Morgantown, became a best-selling action and adventure novelist with the 1986 publication of Flight of the Intruder, introducing the fictional naval aviator, Jake Grafton.

Coonts grew up in Buckhannon and earned a B.A. in political science from West Virginia University in 1968. He was commissioned an ensign in the navy upon graduating, and made two combat cruises aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise during the Vietnam War. He left active duty in 1977 and moved to Colorado, where after a brief time as a taxi driver and police officer he earned a law degree from the University of Colorado in 1979. Coonts then returned to Buckhannon, where he briefly practiced law at the firm of Hymes and Coonts. From 1981 until 1986, he was in-house counsel for Petro-Lewis Corporation, a Denver oil and gas company.

A full-time writer since 1986, Coonts was inducted into the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 1992. From 1990 to 1998, he was a trustee of West Virginia Wesleyan College. Coonts has created popular heroes who feature in two series. The first was Jake Grafton, of Flight of the Intruder, who also appeared in Final Flight (1988), The Minotaur (1989), Under Siege (1990), The Red Horseman (1993), The Intruders (1994), Cuba (1999), Hong Kong (2000), America (2001), and Liberty (2003). Grafton was followed by CIA agent Tommy Carmellini in Liars and Thieves (2004), The Traitor (2006), The Assassin (2008), and The Disciple (2009), Pirate Alley (2013), The Art of War (2016), Liberty’s Last Stand (2016), The Armageddon File (2017), and The Russia Account (2019). He co-wrote the Deep Black series (2003-2011) with William H. Keith. Coonts’s novels have been translated and republished in at least 20 other countries. Coonts has published more than 20 books and at least 16 have been New York Times bestsellers.

This Article was written by Larry Sonis

Last Revised on June 26, 2023

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Sonis, Larry "Stephen Coonts." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 26 June 2023. Web. 03 March 2024.

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