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, November 21, 2012

A Fox in the Yard, Thanksgiving, Sailboats, 10,0000 and 66

This guy got in and couldn't get out.

I looked out the backdoor window the other day and saw this: a rather skanky looking fox. He'd jumped across the fence to get into the backyard and then lost his way out. We watched, Terry and I, full of sympathetic dread: was he sick (Rabies! Poor thing! poor us!); was he hungry (the poor neighbor's cat huddling at our door must look tempting). At one point, unaware of us, he sat down and scratched himself, dog-like, and looked around. Ten minutes later, he found his way out and was gone. The cat relaxed, we went about our business.

And my business was taking a long walk. The autumn air was crisp, the breeze filled with the perfume of falling leaves and whatever else it is that give fall it's special smells. I set out, down through the quiet streets to the harbor.

Autumn comes here later than New England: This is the middle of November

 The harbor in Onancock never fails to pluck at my heart strings.

I walked four miles with my GPS app satellite lady talking to me every five minutes describing my progress: "Time--5 minutes; distance--.027 miles; pace: 18 minutes, 27 seconds per mile"

Other important numbers for me this day: my novel Brothers of the Fire Star climbed--a temporary spike, I'm sure--to 10,000th ranking on Amazon and on Sunday I'll be 66. My wife pointed out that if you put another 6 on that, you've got me pegged but there's a little devil in all of us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Photo Shoots, Feature Articles, and Waiting for That Review

At a photo shoot on a beach on Guam: I try hard to look casual, seaworthy, and profound at the same time.

Unless you are a pro at this--say a movie star or a model--photo shoots are a trial and a tribulation. You're extremely pleased to be there on one hand and extremely worried about what camera with its huge, invasive lens is going to find in your face on the other hand.

I'm as vain and anyone, of course, and while the photographer had his bazooka directed at me point blank, I suspected he was saying to himself, "Well, I guess I'll just have to do the best I can with this old guy."

 I worried about the wind in my hair blowing it off the places where I no longer have any hair; comb overs and topical trade winds don't mix well. I worried that I would not be able to suck things in just above my belt for as long as it was taking him to decide which pose I should assume. I worried that the senior citizen discounts I love to ask for would not include a discount on Rogaine and diet bars.

Nonetheless, I got through it, for better or for worse. 

Here is the link to the article:|newswell|text|Frontpage|p

Or, here it is below, copied and pasted:

'Brothers of the Fire Star': Former resident's book a tale of Guam in World War II

In the dense, dark and mysterious jungle, 13-year-old Joseph hears planes and thundering bombs in the distance. Caught in the thick of World War II on Guam, the fearful boy flees into the darkness and encounters a spirit in a banyan tree, urging him to survive.
"You must not die yet," the spirit says. "You must escape to the sea."
Joseph is a young boy from Massachusetts living on Guam during the war -- born from the imagination of former Guam resident and author Douglas Arvidson.
Arvidson was in Guam just a couple of weeks ago to promote his latest book, "Brothers of the Fire Star." The fictional tale of two boys sailing for their survival is set against historical war scenes in Guam and the Pacific.
Arvidson is an avid adventurer who immersed himself in Pacific traditional seafaring navigation while living on island for 11 years.
Today, the retired Department of Defense Education Activity speech and language pathologist lives in Virginia yet still longs for home -- Guam -- where he's studied with traditional navigator Manny Sikau and has many friends.

Product of passion

The book is a product of his passion for the open ocean and traditions of ancient navigation that he learned while living on Guam.
In 2008, Arvidson retired and left Guam for the mainland. While writing his book, he had an epiphany.
"It was the emotion of nostalgia -- a longing to recapture a treasured past memory -- that made the difference," he says. "You see that in William Faulkner's writing -- a longing for the past. I missed my life and my friends on Guam, missed the great adventure of sailing, I missed the profound sense of both the sadness of the war and the magical past that exists in the islands."
In the story, Joseph is a young boy from Massachusetts. In a way, Arvidson is that boy.
"I would never pretend to be a boy from Guam -- there would be no authenticity in trying to be," he says. "How to solve this problem when developing the idea for the book? Be myself and draw upon my own experiences. As soon as I had figured this out, nostalgia for my youth on the farm in a small, rural town in the hills of New England dovetailed nicely with my nostalgia for my life on Guam and in the islands. After that, the book seemed to write itself and it became a deeply satisfying experience."
It took him nearly three years to write the historical fiction novel, which was released in October and is available in paperback on Aside from the characters, including Napu, the boy Joseph befriends on his journey of survival, Arvidson tried to include as many historical references from the War in the Pacific as he could, also drawing on his trips through the Pacific on his boat.

Traditional navigation

When Arvidson and his wife moved here in the 1990s, he heard about the group Traditions About Seafaring Islands, or TASI, and became intrigued with the idea of possibly studying navigation under a master navigator. He attended meetings where he met Sikau, a seventh-generation Carolinian master navigator from Puluwat. He became deeply involved, attending classes on navigation in Hagåtña and at the University of Guam.
"I also had the opportunity to meet with Manny privately and to sail with him on the voyage back from Pagan," he says. "I asked a lot of questions, took a lot of notes, and although, of course, I could never have actually been a navigator, it gave me enough knowledge to write the novel. After I was finished with the first draft, I met with Manny and went over the manuscript with him. He and Larry Cunningham provided invaluable feedback."
It's a passion he continues to share with his book and with a lecture he gives that he calls "Secrets of the Navigators."
On Friday, he was in Massachusetts visiting his 93-year-old father and preparing for a presentation on the ancient navigators of the Pacific for the Boy Scouts.
"There are organizations dedicated to keeping the old skills alive and keeping that profound connection to the sea and the sky a part of the island culture is vitally important," he says. "Yes, GPS has largely replaced traditional navigation, but that is not the point. The point is the fundamental connection between man and nature must not be lost."
Arvidson and his wife, Terry, lived on Guam in a boat, where he wrote three other novels, two of which have already been published.
Terry Arvidson is a director of the federal education association for all of the military dependent schools in the United States, which brought the couple back to Guam last month.
"She has to go back usually once a year to talk to all of the constituents there," he says. "She goes back on business and I would go back with her. Now I'm going back on business for myself."

Urging of friends

Douglas Arvidson came at the urging of his friends Maureen Murphy and Shannon Murphy, sisters who loved the book, he says.
"They really went to bat for me," he says. "They set up things with the International Reading Association and I sold a lot of books there. I presented a lecture with (Professor) Evelyn Flores' class at the University of Guam."
Different libraries and other groups have asked him to return next year to make more presentations on writing and on "Brothers of the Fire Star."
"I have so many good friends (on Guam) and so many good memories," he says.
"We love going back and we'd want to move back here on an on-and-off basis.
"We were here for 11 years and got to know the island. We've developed very, very close relationships with the people there. It feels like home to me."