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:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 1 of Dolphin Watch: I Take a Nap, Take a Walk, and Keep the Dolphins Secure

The old Seven Mile bridge, built in 1912 for the railroad, is now great place to walk.

So, alright, I don't have much to do here. I sleep in until I hear the sea lion complain (loudly) and the rooster crowing (In raw nature, it's the males of the species that bellow and roar). And I'm not lonely yet. Yesterday I took a long walk (4 miles) on this old bridge that the railroad tycoon named Flager built back at the beginning of the last century to bring civilization to the keys (It never caught on). There were lots of rain squalls all about, but slow moving and none got me. I went out to Pigeon Key, a fine little island under the bridge formerly the work camp for the construction crews and now used as a park and tourist destination.

Thirty years ago, soon after we got married and moved to Key West, we crossed this bridge at midnight in my 59 Chevy pickup towing a U-haul trailer packed with our stuff. The steering wheel on the old truck had lots of play in it and, with on-coming traffic, it was pretty hairy keeping things in the narrow lane. Lots drivers couldn't do it, in fact, and, BOOM! crashes and subsequent fires frequently blocked traffic for hours--days, in fact. Now there is a grand, wide system of bridges down the Keys and things are much improved.

The view from Pigeon Key: The old and the new Seven Mile bridges, in perspective.

I'm reading a new version of Peter Matthiessen's Killing Mr. Watson, a novelized history of south Florida and the Keys. It's called Shadow Country. It's fun to read it while I'm actually here. The grit and sweat of life here in what was, a hundred years ago, a wild, lawless backwater, still lingers despite the gross commercialization. You can go into the back country and lose yourself amongst the 'gators and ibisis, and sharks and mud and mangroves, and  'skitters and get a feeling for how miserable life must have been for many of the first white settlers (the native Americans, whose way of life was, of course, destroyed by the whites, had it figured out).

In any event, I'm not yet lonely. I've got a lot to do and it feels good doing it. As part of the re-write process, I decided to record the book aloud into my digital recorder. All the muck and snags and rocks and reefs in my prose expose themselves upon oral reading like a low lunar tide. Once all the problems are noted, I will begin the actual re-write, here on this machine.

So, now, to get back to it. Record, edit, re-write, repeat as necessary.


An osprey rests on the guard rails of the old bridge. I think these rails are the original railroad rails put to a second and good use.

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