Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Research for the Next Book: A Sacred Island Ceremony

I'm getting going now, rather tentatively, on the next book, The Spirit of the Voyage. On any voyage, casting off the lines is the most difficult thing to do--actually committing yourself to such a grand adventure. An entire manuscript has to dangle from, or grow from, an initial insight, sort of like how the crystals in a snow flake have to find a tiny particle of something in the atmosphere to grow around. No particle, no snow flake, no germ of an idea, no book.

Of course, the atmosphere is full of particles for snow flakes to grow around, just like life is full of ideas. Whether you live in suburban New Jersey or on an island in the Pacific Ocean, there are an infinite number of possibilities around which a work of art can coelesce. The old man in the picture above is me with my friend Manny Sikau. He's master navigator from the island of Puluwat in the Caroline Islands. We are standing in front of a canoe that his father built and Manny sailed from Puluwat to Guam, a distance of about 500 miles of open ocean. He navigated using only the stars and the waves, the wind and sea life--no compass, no sextant.

In these pictures, Manny, his uncle, and other people from Puluwat are performing a ceremony prior to launching a small sailing canoe that Manny and others carved by hand from a breadfruit log (an interesting note about this picture is that Manny's uncle lost the bottom part of his arm to a shark one night while spear fishing). The ceremony involved chanting over the canoe and offerings of food.

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