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Randy Wayne White’s latest Ford mystery makes debut this week

By Staff | Mar 11, 2009

Following the success of last summer’s “Black Widow,” Sanibel resident and best-selling author Randy Wayne White has summoned his popular Doc Ford character back into action this week with the release of “Dead Silence,” the 16th plot-twisting mystery novel featuring the sleuthing marine biologist.

In his latest thriller, Ford and a friend, a former – or perhaps current – British agent are in New York attending a reunion while awaiting the arrival of a U.S. Senator. As the senator is about to step out of her car, Ford witnesses an abduction attempt, which he successfully thwarts. However, a 14-year-old visiting New York for writing a prize-winning essay is kidnapped in the process. Ford has just 36 hours not only to find the teenager, who has been buried alive by his captors, but to also figure out whose secret from the past may be behind this heinous plot.

White, who first introduced readers to Doc Ford in 1990’s “Sanibel Flats,” and continuing with “The Heat Islands” (1992), “The Man Who Invented Florida (1993), “Captiva” (1996) and 12 others in the years since, sat down with the Island Reporter last week prior to embarking on a 19-city, coast-to-coast booksigning tour to promote the novel, which arrived in bookstores on Tuesday.

Island Reporter (IR): This is your 16th Doc Ford adventure. How do you keep the character fresh?

Randy Wayne White (RWW): When I wrote the first book, “Sanibel Flats,” I wrote a very detailed bio of the four main characters. So from very early on, they had a very intertwined history if I had the chance to write another book. The characters evolved on their own, sort of living their own lives, so I have to trot just to keep up.

IR: When did you start writing “Dead Silence?”

RWW: About a year ago. I was down in Cuba around the same time that people thought Fidel Castro had died. There are no newspapers down there – even the best hotels have no magazines, no newspapers, so there’s no communication whatsoever. And it struck me that when Fidel dies, there’s going to be all of this information that will become available. So that’s where I got the idea (for “Dead Silence”).

IR: Do you have a writing discipline?

RWW: I don’t go by hours. I try to write seven days a week. The hardest thing is finding time to write. I just have to go into a room, close the door and get to work.

IR: Does living here on Sanibel play a part in the writing of your novels, and have you created any characters from the people you’ve known from here?

RWW: Sure it does. All of my books take place in or start out in Florida, and a lot of the action takes part in Florida. I was a fishing guide at Tarpon Bay for 13 years. The man who owned and ran the company, his name was Matt. In my books, the guy who owns the marina is named Matt. This wonderful guy I knew named Nick Clemens, who worked with me, spoke with a slight stutter. There’s a character in my book named Jeff who has a slight stutter. Yeah, there are some friends I’ve put into my books just for fun.

IR: Where do you see Doc Ford going next?

RWW: Well, I already know where he’s going next. He’s going to go back to Cuba for a little bit. I’m already working on that book now. He’s going to be involved with a search for something that lies in an underground lake, not unlike a warm mineral spring.

IR: Where do you come up with the unique ideas for your stories?

RWW: I start with one event. It has to be something that strikes me intellectually or emotionally – or both. And from there, the characters really do take over. They have their own lives and they will not behave other than how I originally created the character. There’s also usually an environmental sub-plot going on, which is sort of intellectual. I try to write books that I would find entertaining and hopefully it will turn out entertaining to others, too.

On Thursday, March 12, Randy Wayne White will appear at the Sanibel Island Bookshop (1571 Periwinkle Way) to autograph copies of “Dead Silence” starting at 6:30 p.m. For additional information, call 472-5223.

For more information about White and his Doc Ford novels, visit www.randywaynewhite.com.