Lagunans find success as authors

Laguna is filled with artists, but one art form seems to fly a little more under the radar — writing.

Sure, "Savages" author Don Winslow is a household name now, thanks to the movie that hit theaters this past summer and his other books, but for other local authors such as Gil Thibault, a 72-year-old retiree, and Charles "Chuck" Martin, who runs an investment management firm, writing a book is a bit off the beaten path.

Thibault wrote "I Am The World's Oldest-Known Living Tree," a nonfiction book about the Methuselah tree, a bristlecone pine in California that he said is close to 5,000 years old.

He'll be discussing his book during a luncheon at the Laguna Beach Rotary Club meeting at the Aliso Creek Inn at noon Friday.

For Thibault, a Laguna Beach resident since 1976, writing the book wasn't something he thought about at first.

Thibault, who is well-traveled, got the idea during a trip with his daughter and niece in 1996 while he was taking pictures of the tree.

He felt the story about the Methuselah trees wasn't being told.

"At the time, I thought, 'Geez no one knows about these trees," Thibault said in a phone interview this past summer. "It's not publicized very much...If you ask, 9 out of 10 adults think it's a regular pine tree. They have no idea it's almost 5,000 years old. They're bona fide scientists who study these trees."

It took him two years to write the book, and he's been working on getting the book into various parks' visitor centers.

As for Martin, who wrote the erotic thriller "Provocateur," he's found relatively quick success. His book is sold at Barnes & Nobles and; it's also rated on

"Quite frankly, it was a recreation for me," Martin said over the phone over the summer. "I have done of lot of writing throughout my life, but it's never been fiction, it's always been business writing."

The book revolves around heroine, Nadia, a young Russian woman who comes to the U.S. as part of a mail-order bride exchange and becomes involved in an undercover CIA-like agency run by a woman named Olga who helps train Nadia to use her female powers to take wealthy men's money.

The idea came from a dinner outing Martin was having with his wife and friends and after stumbling upon an older, affluent man with a gorgeous twentysomething girl his wife commented something along the lines of: "You've got to be on your guard; they are trained predators."

Martin found amusement in the scenario and chewed on this for a bit. He later wrote some ideas down and discovered there was a story there. He submitted his first chapter to his wife, Trisha, who encouraged him to write more.

It was around this time that Martin read an obituary about a woman who was in the British OSS as an agent during WWII and had a way of extracting information.

"That formed the thesis behind the character Olga in my novel," he said. "The novel kind of evolved ... and almost every night a new idea kept coming."

It took him about eight weeks to write the whole story, and about five more months after that to edit and tweak it. A movie could be in the works. Martin hooked up with screenwriter David Ward through Chapman film school to adapt the book into a screenplay.

A sequel is also in the works.

"I love the process and it's so much fun," Martin said. "I live in a male's business world and to do something creative like this — that uses a whole different part of my emotions, observations and so on — is great fun."

For more information about Martin and "Provocateur," go to

"I Am The World's Oldest-Known Living Tree" is sold on and at Laguna Beach Books.

Thibault's talk at the Rotary meeting costs $20, and the event has limited guest seating. Email John Campbell, Rotary president, at to RSVP for the event.

Twitter: @agomezberman

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