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Arts Alive! podcast: Novelist Randy Wayne White

Bill DeYoung

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In September 2022, Hurricane Ian made landfall, as a Category 4, at Sanibel Island on Florida’s southwestern coast. Between the 120 miles-per-hour winds and the 12-foot storm surge, the tiny barrier island didn’t stand a chance. Homes and businesses were either destroyed or severely damaged, numerous people drowned, and a section of the causeway linking Sanibel to the mainland was literally blown away, making it difficult for first responders and law enforcement to assess and assist.

New York Times bestselling novelist Randy Wayne White, a resident of Sanibel, “rode out” the storm. On today’s Arts Alive! podcast, White says he did it, for the most part, to observe and take notes. He wanted to find out what it felt like in the middle of a tropical cyclone, a natural occurrence that he says only becomes a disaster when man is involved.

He also confesses he probably shouldn’t have done it.

Nearly two years later, the Sanibel home he shares with his wife isn’t completely rebuilt yet. They’ve been living a nomadic life, in various parts of the state, until they get the green light. Should be soon, he explains.

White has just published One Deadly Eye, the 27th book in his series about brilliant marine biologist (and global bad guy-buster) Marion “Doc” Ford.

This time, it’s personal.

The hurricane that pulverizes Dinkin’s Bay, Doc Ford’s longtime home base, is never given a name in One Deadly Eye. It simply exists, and it’s the book’s major character, even though Ford is, as always, the protagonist.

He, too, rides out the storm – and then must contend with a ruthless band of Russian mercenaries, whose plan is to descend on the island in the immediate wake of the storm, before any police can get out there safely. Once ensconced, they’ll rob the area’s more expensive homes, where there’s valuable artwork and other prizes for the plucking.

And if some innocents get hurt, well that’s just too bad.

On the podcast, White discusses Ian, Florida, the insurance business, hurricanes past … and how he skillfully crafted fiction from fact for One Deadly Eye.

He’ll sign books in St. Pete this weekend: Sunday (June 2), 12-3 p.m. at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, Jungle Terrace; Monday (June 3) 12-3 p.m. at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, St. Pete Pier; 7 p.m. Monday at Coastal Creative/Tombolo Books (info here).

This week’s episode was done via Zoom, as opposed to our regular podcast studio:

 

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