Love letter to the sea

Brothers of the Fire Star author returns to Guam

Former Guam resident Doug Arvidson returned in October for a book signing for Brothers of the Fire Star at the Guam Museum.

Arvidson and his wife lived on a sailboat on Guam for 11 years. He would even sail from Saipan to Pagan and back. “I keep returning to Guam because I love the island and the Chamorro people,” said the author. “I feel a connection here and its home for me. The Marianas is where I’ve had some of the most incredible adventures of my life. Now that I’m 72, I need to be with my grandchildren in the states, so I’m not here. But my wife and I love returning every year since I’ve retired 10 years ago. I enjoy doing writing and reading workshops for kids at Guam’s schools.”

For 35 years, Arvidson has found great euphoria in sailing. Brothers of the Fire Star can be considered Arvidson’s love letter to the sea. For his novel, he drew from his friendships formed from sailing. “I was so interested in studying traditional sailing, so I met Larry Cunningham, one of the founders of Tasi and Master Navigator Manny Sikau,” said Arvidson. “I studied navigation for about five years under Manny. I also helped build canoes as part of Tasi here at the canoe house in Paseo.”

While it may seem awkward for a non-native to write about a Micronesian tradition, Arvidson is sure not to overstep his boundaries by making the protagonist, Joseph, an American boy lost in WWII Marianas. Joseph is saved by a Chamorro boy Napu, who guides him to a life of seafaring. “I found the voice of this book and this story just came out of me,” Arvidson said. “If you find your voice and you have good characters, the writing comes very easily. I’m not saying writing is easy, but sometimes it’s easier than other times.”

Arvidson did extensive research on Chamorro life during