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:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Caught Between Two Worlds: Writing About Paradise in the Murder Capitol of the U.S.

This is one of the street signs I encountered today in our Nation's capitol. One never knows what to expect in exotic places. I was an innocent in the lion's den, an aged angel in a den of iniquity, 62-year-old man-child alone in hard-scrabble world of inner-city Washington D.C. How does one cope? How is the day lived, hour to hour?

Up at the crack of 8:00. Lay about a bit. 9:00--shower. Lay about a bit more. No need to rush into things. Breakfast. Back to the hotel room. Get this laptop set up, lay back on the bed, laptop on top of lap. Check email. Check Facebook. Check Twitter. Try to figure what Twitter is all about. This is important, cutting-edge stuff: What are you doing now?

Open file: The Spirit of the Voyage, my next novel. 104 pages of first draft done. Re-read the last few pages to remind myself of where I am. Write a few sentences. They're okay, but need to think about where I'm going with this. The boys are sailing on the Pacific Ocean in an outrigger canoe. What would that be like? I've spent many hours/days sailing the Pacific, so I have a good idea what they see, but they're kids.....

....time to lie back and do what John Updike said was the heart and soul of writing: daydreaming. I do this. Daydreaming is something I've always done well but now I can do it legally. I set the laptop on the bed next to me, lay back on the pillows and close my eyes. I picture the boys on the canoe surrounded by blue, blue ocean--endless blue ocean. I imagine the passage of time the way time passes when you're at sea, nights and days blending together until you don't know how many hours or even days have passed.

Then, there it is, land--or what you hope is land. A low, gray smudge on the horizon. Then the smudge becomes the tops of coconut trees and everyone in the canoe is happy. Hours later you sail through the narrow passage into the lagoon and are greeted by excited men and boys in canoes. You've made it. But where are you and what happens next?

12:30--I'm done daydreaming. I close up the laptop, put my shoes on, and go out onto the mean streets toting my Nikon. I'll take some pictures. I'll switch from the story of the islands to the story of the city. Later when Terry is done with her meetings, we'll go out for drinks and dinner to a nice Mediterranean restaurant and we'll talk about all the places we've traveled and sailed to over the past 29 years. We'll also talk about where we want to go next because we're not anywhere near done with this very fine adventure. Then I will come home and put my laptop on my lap and write these words. When I'm done with this, it will be enough for the day.

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