Novelist Tom Clancy, 66, died yesterday at the Johns Hopkins hospital after a brief illness, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Seventeen novels by the celebrated author rose to the top position of the New York Times best sellers list, and more than a few, including his first, were transformed into movies. In 1990, BBC News reported that he founded Red Storm Entertainment in order to develop video games based on his ideas; the company was later bought by Ubisoft, a French video game manufacturer.

Clancy sold The Hunt for Red October, his first published novel, to the Naval Institute Press in 1984 for $5,000, according to the New York Times. The lead character, Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst, would feature in some of Clancy’s later works, including Patriot Games and Red Rabbit. Many of his works are set during the Cold War and feature conflicts between the world’s super powers. Within four years, Wikipedia noted, Clancy’s first novel had earned him $1.3 million. Prior to its publication, he worked as an insurance broker.

Clancy was born in Baltimore, Md., in 1947, and was an English major at Loyola College, from which he graduated in 1969. Although he had no children, his current wife of 14 years, Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, survives him. Among his many honors, Clancy received the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement from the Navy League in 1990; the award "recognizes a Navy or Marine Corps officer, or a civilian, for a notable literary contribution that has advanced the cause of seapower." His forthcoming novel, Command Authority, is slated for publication on Dec. 3, Business Insider reported.