Bestselling author Randy Wayne White may be one of the most prolific thriller-writers on the market today, of course, inspiration isn't hard to find when a writer's office overlooks a tropical paradise.
The sheer volume of White's work isn't the result of long days on the beach. He writes seven-days-a-week, either at his home office on Pine Island, one of the three Doc Ford's restaurants in Southwest Florida, and at an undisclosed location on Captiva Island. Typical days range from four to sixteen hours of writing with the occasional break to get active and socialize.
"I've got plenty of inspiration," he said. "I need to get out and socialize, somewhat."
Randy Wayne White. Photo by Wendy Webb.
Last week, for example, he started writing at 9 a.m., took a break to go paddle boarding, and went to work again at 2 a.m. after sharing a conversation with a Lee County Sheriff's deputy on patrol in the middle of the night.
And, readers may ask how he maintains this hectic schedule? With nothing more than iced tea and diet soda.
White's newest novel, Deceived, features fishing boat captain and part-time private eye Hannah Smith, and is a follow-up to last year's Gone. The book tour for Deceived opens on Sept. 1 at Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille, the restaurant inspired by his most popular character.
Interestingly, he notices that more women attend his book signings than men.
"It's certainly not because I'm good looking," he said. "I hope it's because I portray women respectfully and with a sense of humor. I love women."
Neil Nyren, White's publisher from G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin, asked him to write a stand-alone novel two years ago and both of them were intrigued by the idea of a strong female protagonist. One of the main concerns was whether White could effectively write from a woman's perspective, but after the success of Gone he was offered a four book contract to continue with Hannah Smith's story.
"I love Hannah," said White. "She is a delight."
Hannah's character is based on two Florida women who broke the conventional mold. The Smith sisters, Hannah and Sarah Smith, lived in the early 1900's and are ancestors of White's fictional character. The real Sarah Smith was known as "The Ox Woman" because she navigated through the Everglades behind an ox cart. Her sister, Hannah, was murdered at a plantation in the Ten Thousand Islands after she was hired to chop wood.
Besides the Smith sisters, he was also inspired by his own mother and seven aunts from Rockingham, N.C., one of the poorest counties in the state.
"Growing up, I was so charmed and directed by that wonderful female southern voice," he said. "The moral standards and platforms on which they base their lives. The funniest women I've ever met in my life are my late mother and aunts."
Esperanza Woodring, an original homesteader and one of Sanibel Island's first female boat captains, also helped White to develop Hannah's unique character. White earned his captain's license in 1974 and often worked alongside Woodring before writing Sanibel Flats in 1990.
"Esperanza Woodring was a wonderful and brilliant woman, who was also a superb fishing guide," he said. "I admired Captain Woodring."
The island's ecosystem plays an integral part in White's personal life and novels. Many of his literary descriptions come from personal observations he's made as a 13-year boat captain and native of Southwest Florida. These days he doesn't have as much free time to get out on the water, because of his busy writing schedule, but he still manages to get out once or twice a year to keep his captain's license up-to-date.
The Doc Ford character makes an appearance in Deceived, but the novel's point-of-view is through the eyes of Hannah Smith. A new book in the Doc Ford series is due out in April. White stressed that he has many other Doc Ford stories to tell.
The book officially goes on sale Sept. 3 and he will travel across Florida and the United States for the book tour. For more information on Randy Wayne White and his upcoming books, visit randywaynewhite.com.
Here are the book tour dates in Florida:
-Sunday, Sept. 1 at the Sanibel Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille from 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.
-Monday, Sept. 2 at the Sanibel Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille from 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.
-Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Sunshine Books on Marco Island starting at 3 p.m.
-Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Barnes & Noble in Fort Myers starting at 7 p.m.
-Thursday, Sept. 5 at the Sanibel Island Bookshop starting at 6:30 p.m.
-Friday, Sept. 6 at the Barnes & Noble in Orlando starting at noon.
-Friday, Sept. 6 at the Barrel of Books & Games in Mt. Dora, Fla., starting at 3 p.m.
-Friday, Sept. 6 at The Bookmark in Jacksonville starting at 7 p.m.
-Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Cocoa Beach Public Library starting at 1 p.m.
-Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Vero Beach Book Center starting at 4 p.m.
-Sunday, Sept. 8 at Costco Palm Beach starting at noon.
-Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the Fort Myers Beach Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille from 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.