Q&A with Randy Wayne White

The best-selling author discusses his new book, his artistic contributions to the area, and more

Randy Wayne White
Photo by Brian Tietz

Best-selling author Randy Wayne White is a man of many accomplishments. Whether he is writing one of his trademark Doc Ford books, spearheading baseball trips to Cuba, opening restaurants, or developing conservation initiatives, he carries on with a dedicated, collaborative, and infectious energy. White lives on Sanibel Island with his talented wife, Wendy Webb, a well-known singer and songwriter. He’s very close with his two grown sons, Lee Wayne and Rogan, and three “delicious” grandchildren, who all live nearby. NI recently caught up with White to discuss his artistic contributions to the area and more. 

NI: What’s your newest book and what drives your writing success?

White: Stingers, part of my middle grade series, will be out soon. I’m working on the twenty-seventh Doc Ford novel right now. I write seven days a week no matter what. Writing a book is like carving marble. It’s not easy. It’s one terrifying day after another. If there is a secret to writing successfully, you go in a room, alone, close the door, turn off your phone, and do your work at least five days a week, preferably seven.

What’s happening with baseball in Cuba?

Up until the recent pandemic, we would do one, sometimes two Doc Ford Cuba baseball trips per year, all legally licensed by the U.S. and Cuban governments. We bring equipment and play games with a team started by Ernest Hemingway. My friends in Cuba are actually making money for the first time in their lives from these trips. About 10 years ago, we helped realign the Freemasons of Cuba and Florida in a formal ceremony in Havana. It was quite moving. There’s some mysterious force or equitability in giving without expectation. I’m trying to live my life that way.

How’d you get involved with solving citrus greening?

My 2016 book, Seduced, tells this story of the Archaic Citrus Tree Initiative. The root stock, which we found on a remote island where it couldn’t have cross-pollinated locally with another citrus tree, is now at a registered nursery. Hundreds of trees are budding from this mother tree and thus far, none of them have developed the citrus greening disease, which is quite unusual.

Do you have a lot of local artist friends?

I really don’t. I write for a living, and the last thing I care to do is talk about writing, particularly with another writer. My closest, dearest friend and confidante, the late Peter Matthiessen, a brilliant writer, spent a lot of time in Collier County researching and writing the Killing Mr. Watson trilogy. He and I spent a lot of time together. We would occasionally joke that the one thing we did not talk about was writing, although we did once in a while. Tim Dorsey is a great friend of mine. I essentially go to restaurants and hang out with my baseball buddies. I don’t have to pretend I’m smart with them. They already know I’m not.

How do you spend recreational time in the Naples area?

I love exploring the Ten Thousand Islands area by power boat these days, sometimes by sea plane. Chatham River and the old Ed Watson homestead are wonderful. I’ve canoed through there and never tire of that. Copeland is a fascinating village in Collier County. When the Mackle Brothers started developing Marco, they bought entire households and moved them to Copeland. Monroe Station has a road called Pine Crest Loop, and it winds down into the Everglades about 15 to 20 miles. It’s all great.

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