A recent article by Charles Runnells of the News-Press:
Randy Wayne White has been saying it for years in his books: “Thanks to my sons for helping me finish another novel.”
And he’s not speaking euphemistically, either. His sons, Lee and Rogan, really “do” help him finish every single Doc Ford and Hannah Smith thriller.
The family tradition started way back in 1990 with White’s first Doc Ford novel, “Sanibel Flats,” and it’s continued all the way through his brand-new “Deep Blue.” White will take part in signings for the book throughout Southwest Florida starting next week.
In the beginning, the best-selling Sanibel Island author would call his young sons into the room and have them type the last two words of each novel on his old Underwood typewriter. Now that his sons are in their 30s and everybody has cellphones and computers, he does things a little differently.
“I text the last two words to my sons,” White says, “and they text me back. And then I paste them.”
White reveals that longtime family tradition in his author’s note at the beginning of “Deep Blue,” which comes out nationwide on Tuesday. He says he gets his sons to type the last two words partly for luck, and partly as a way to include them in the process.
“I think they enjoy it,” he says. “We’re very close and always have been.”
Son Rogan White, 32, of Fort Myers said it started out as a joke. He and his brother could get away with saying that they’d “finished a book and had it published.” But then it turned into something more.
“It’s just one of those cool things, the little things that mean a lot, really,” Rogan White says. “You get to be a part of the book. You get to be involved.”
Lee and Rogan may have helped finish “Deep Blue,” but White did the brunt of the work, of course. He usually cranks out two Doc Ford or Hannah Smith novels every year. “Deep Blue” is his 23rd Doc Ford book — and White says it’s one of his favorites.
“I think it’s one of the cleanest, fastest books, in terms of movement,” he says. “I tried to make the writing more spare.”
In the new book, adventuring marine biologist Marion “Doc” Ford — still recovering from his injuries in the novel “Cuba Straits” — gets involved in a secret operation to track down an ISIS sympathizer in Mexico. In the process, he uncovers an insidious plot that reaches all the way back to the United States.
The novel also delves deeper into the lives of Ford’s neighbors in the fictional Dinkin’s Bay marina on Sanibel Island. “I really, really had a good time with that,” White says.
White got inspiration for “Deep Blue” partly from his own adventures in Cuba, Mexico and South America. He still remembers what it was like finding ancient ruins in the Yucatan.
“In the middle of the jungle, you can stumble upon these wonderful remnants of Mayan structures,” he says. “We found places where they’d quarried limestone. It was just beautiful.”
The book also touches on our over-reliance on technology — and what would happen if all that technology failed. If the Internet went down for just a few days, White says, it could spell disaster.
“There will be widespread panic,” he says. “There will be. And nobody has addressed that issue.”
White says he’s been busy working on more books, including the next Hannah Smith novel.
“I just try to write books and not act stupid,” he jokes.
Learn more about Randy Wayne White at randywaynewhite.com.