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:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Death of a Master Navigator

At sea with Manny Sikau, Master Navigator
Manny Sikau, a master navigator from Polowat atoll, died last month. He was my friend and mentor and without him, my novel, Brothers of the Fire Star could never have been written. He died unexpectedly after suffering a brain hemorrhage while sleeping. He was only fifty-four.
I learned of his passing just before I left to return to Guam to be the keynote speaker at a meeting of the International Reading Association and teach the writing process to students in the Guam schools. I was excited about seeing him again, about talking story, about sharing with him how thankful I am that he taught me about traditional navigation during my years living and sailing in the islands.
Yesterday I visited the utt, the canoe house where we met and talked and where I learned. They are still making canoes there, still talking story, but Manny is gone and the very heart of our organization, dedicated to keeping alive the secrets of the ancient navigators, has left us.
Building a canoe on Guam: Because logs of the correct size are difficult to find, they use a different method of construction now.

A detail of the complex lashing that hold an outrigger canoe or proa together.

The utt, or canoe house on Guam with newly built proas.

Note: I am now writing a monthly piece for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal. You can read them at

Thursday, March 21, 2013

After my Keynote Presentation at a Meeting of the International Reading Association on Guam
It was a homecoming of the finest sort. A writer returns to the distant island of Guam where he lived and sailed and explored for eleven years. He has written a book about that island and other islands that is striking a chord with the wonderful people of that tropical paradise and now he is there to teach kids about the wonders of writing. He wants to share his wonder at it all: the sea, the sky, the mysteries of the ancient navigators and the magic of weaving daydreams into words.
 I spoke before an audience of a hundred people at  meeting of the International Reading Association and now I'm the "visiting author," traveling around to middle schools and high schools connecting with kids about writing, about their  culture, their heritage, the sky, and the sea. The reception has been in the true Guam tradition: food and warm smiles. There truly is a different karma here among the Pacific islanders than in the hubbub and hurly-burly of the East Coast of the U.S. where I now call home.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Return to Guam: Great Friends in a Tropical Paradise

My home away from home: House/pet sitting can be sweet. And I can drive either truck.
Another view of the house: Side yard
The backyard: breadfruit, bananas, coconuts, taro, and things tropical I have never heard of.
The road along the beach where we walk the dogs.
The Guam Coastline
Inside an old Japanese coastal defense bunker
My friend Roger's dog, Frizzie. Not the one I'm dog sitting, but I couldn't resist. I mean, look at that face.
As a visiting author, I was greeted at the airport. I was pretty dopey with jet lag but note the lei around my neck. Cool.
I'm here and getting over jet lag and an intestinal thing that knocked me out for a day or so. Now I can finally appreciate the friends and the paradise of this island. When not speaking, teaching, and sailing, I'll be spending a lot of time hanging out and this is a great place to do that. Long walks with the dog along the coastline on a very nice trail with great views of the blue Pacific
Saturday morning I'm the keynote speaker at a meeting of the International Reading Association, next week I teach the writing process to middle school students in the Guam schools, and three weeks later, I leave on a 1,300-mile voyage to the Philippines with five other old men. We've nicknamed the boat "The ARRP Ark." Motto: "Seniors to Cebu."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Writing, Traveling, Sailing: The Ego of This Fine Adventure

As a 35-Year Old News Reporter in Key West

I don't look like this anymore. Put on a bit of weight, gotten old, gray--and I'm much less sure of myself. That's the big difference, I think. When this picture was taken, in the Florida Keys, I was so damned sure I had a key to something big. Imagine shooting a four-foot barracuda with a spear gun. Killed him instantly with a shot to the head.

Thing is, there was no reason to kill him. You really shouldn't eat a barracuda this big--ciguatera poisoning is a nasty business--and he was not interested in doing me any harm. It was like Hemingway killing lions and elephants. There is no reason to do it other than to feed your own ego. I suppose, metaphorically, there is a poison in that kind of eating, too. Ego feasting gives you gas--turns you into a gas bag.

In any event, I shot him and was proud of it. A moment later, I threw him into the shallow water of the canal that's there, off to my right. It took a couple of weeks for him to rot away, in full view of anyone passing by.

A Fuzzy Photo of the Motorcycle Newsman in Key West, 1982-83

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I'm Going to Sea: Here's to Love

 The Kiss: In Thirty-Two Years, Nothing Has Changed

It seems I'm going to be at sea for our anniversary this year. Sailing from Guam to the Philippines with five other guys and missing sharing the memories of this day with her, my wife. T'is a pity, of course, but life must be lived as it comes at you and this is how it's coming.

A long time ago we, she and I, agreed that we would never stop each other from doing what ever it was we really wanted to do. So away I go, flying to the other half of the world to push my novel, teach kids, and sail 1,300 miles of open ocean while she stays behind to mind the store and the Federal Education Association, both of which need minding.

As the departure approaches, the reality of a long separation settles in. Moods change, swing about, flutter, luff up like a sailboat in irons. Where to go, what to do, how to think? Never mind. We'll manage, somehow, without each other for a while.

We were too damned cute.