Author Randy Wayne White may not be a fishing guide any longer, but he has the deep, coppery tan of one all over his bald head. About two hundred fans of White and his Doc Ford novels showed up Saturday afternoon at Sunshine Booksellers southern location on Collier Blvd., to hear the author speak, and purchase autographed copies of his latest novel.
“Midnight Calling” is the 19th in the series that began with “Sanibel Flats,” and was just published, so the cartons of books flying into purchasers’ hands were literally hot off the press. The crowd filled every available square foot inside the store, and spilled out into the bright sunshine out in the parking lot.
Some of those waiting with their books wore “Doc Ford’s” tee shirts and caps, like Brad Gottschalk, or carried memorabilia such as Sue Franz’ Doc Ford’s coffee cup. The books were tagged with color-coded sticky notes on them to indicate each patron’s place in the signing queue, and with over 150 books sold, it was a long queue.
Before the signing began, White gave a talk and took questions from the audience.
“Is there a real Doc Ford?” he was asked.
“I knew several men like him,” he said, and told how he had compiled detailed backstories for several of his main characters before he began the first novel, even though “I had no idea if anyone would read it, if there would ever be a second book, let alone a 19th.” He literally could not give the book away when it was first published, he said. “I’m a 20-year overnight sensation.”
He works at his craft seven days a week, said White, and does copious research.
“I love research, and I love caviar,” and the roe of the Gulf sturgeon, as contraband, features prominently in “Chasing Midnight,” so the two passions happily intertwined. Research is important, he said, but can be invidious. “It’s the best excuse to keep you from writing.”
He encouraged aspiring writers, although he said jokingly, “I speak for Carl Hiaasen and myself when I say we hope you don’t publish – there’s too much competition out there already.” White told of holding writing workshops on the porch of his home in Pineland, Florida, and said four of those students had become published authors.
Signing a book for Connie Gaertner, who had just completed “Wake-up Call,” her first book, he advised her to get started on the second book right away. He shared that on his website, docford.com, he has writing exercises, complete with deadlines. “Deadlines are very important,” said White.
Asked whether, as a longtime outdoorsman, he had seen the fabled green flash, he said, yes, twice. From the audience, Cheryl Bubp spoke up, and offered that with a few gin and tonics, he could probably see a lot more.
Sunshine Booksellers is having their next book signing, with author and Naples resident Robin Cook, on March 20.