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, January 19, 2010

This Writer's Journal: Doing Research, Working with a Writers' Group

Living gives you a better understanding of life. I would hope that my characters have become deeper and more rounded personalities. Wider travels have given me considerably greater insight into how cultural differences affect not only people, but politics and art....Alan Dean Foster
As I write this next novel, I'm deeply involved in researching a culture so foreign that I have great trepidation about getting it right. The people who live on the tiny atolls of the western Pacific often still live a hunter-gather existence, still suffer from a lack of readily available modern medicine, and are still at the mercy of the vagaries of providential nature for their survival. I did live on a sailboat on the island of Guam for eleven years and I did sail/travel to many other islands, and I did witness first hand the lives these people live. But of course, that's not at all the same thing is it? Still, writers must work hard at understanding at least in a small way, the lives of other cultures if one is to write about the world outside shopping malls and interstate highways.
To that end, I would love to take some of my more conservative, nativist, rigid acquaintances on a trip around the world. An extended trip, a voyage to exotic destinations where you couldn't stay in air conditioned hotels rooms and have an "all-inclusive" experience safe from the filthy, howling masses. We would travel light on this adventure, one bag each, say, and we'd take whatever means of transport is available: donkeys, ox carts, local trucks or buses teeming with chickens and pigs. We'd walk down dusty roads for hours, eat with the locals at their shops using our hands to get the food into our mouths.
And it would be a trip, as I said, extended in time. A year or two at least, to give us the opportunity to develop some of that priceless third-world patience you see in the faces of the Third World as they hunker down to wait days for buses they are not sure will come at all or haul water from a well two miles from their homes. We might pick up some parasites along the way, suffer from bouts of diarrhea, boils, plague--I don't know--whatever.
Before we left, each of us would write a longish essay about ourselves and publish it in blog form here on the Internet. It would include our political and religious beliefs, our view of moral and family values, and most importantly our, we would explore how we saw ourselves in this world--where we fit in, what our purpose is.
Then, after we got back from this extended world tour, we would do the same thing--another longish blog for everyone in the world to read, answering the same questions, addressing the same issues.
I'm just saying. It might be interesting.

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