A Span of Moments by Robert Beech
A profound story of coming home to an old Florida island and struggling to save its way of life and native beauty: Midsummer 1994,a disillusioned Jake Crawford quits a prominent scientific career and retreats to the island home of his youth, longing for its old Florida way of life. Within hours of his arrival, he becomes entangled in a deadly series of events involving a billionaire real estate developer and a reclusive bridgetender with a long-hidden past. Jake’s struggle to navigate those events will determine whether Marcosta Island preserves its culture and native beauty or succumbs to the same overpopulation and environmental harm that has befallen the rest of southwest Florida.
Targeted Age Group:: All
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The book is dedicated to my father and the beauty of Old Florida. Both have key influences on the storyline. My father died over fifty years ago, when I was 18 years old. At the time, I was too young to fully understand what he had experienced as a fighter pilot in Burma during WWII. As for Old Florida, it was my blessing to grow up in that culture and native beauty, but I also had to witness it be transformed and destroyed by greedy politicians and real estate developers. Writing this novel enabled me to properly acknowledge my father's WWII experience (and its lasting emotional impact) while also interweaving that acknowledgement with the struggle to save an Old Florida island from the clutches of a billionaire resort developer.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The protagonist, Jake Crawford, a top cancer researcher, is a composite character that I created from my experience in the biotech industry. Simon Bronson, the bridgetender, has a long hidden past that approximates the past of my father. Derek Nielsen, the multi-billionaire, is another composite character drawn from four decades of experience in both the biotech and technology industries. The other fictional characters came to me from growing up in Florida or my interactions with many character types and backgrounds during my lengthy career.
Even the pelicans weren’t flying, content instead to float motionless at the edge of Passage Channel, long bills tucked against chest feathers, eyelids closed to the glaring light. Here and there, patches of brown seaweed dotted the calm surface, creating quilted patterns of tiny islands. Beyond the channel, the Gulf of Mexico was a wide mirror of water and sky. At the horizon, shimmering light waves spawned fleets of ships that didn’t exist. Normal sounds were absent. It was noon and dead-high tide. A painted moment when the senses starved for activity.
Simon sat at the edge of a wooden platform, leaning back against the roughness of his bridgetender’s shack. A tattered straw hat cast a dark shadow over the wrinkled features below. Only the white stubble of beard was apparent under the drooping brim. The July sun beat down hard. Sweat dripped from his chin.
He stared out at the stillness and tried to calm his mind. Fifty years had passed since 1944, but that didn’t matter. The uplifted faces were as vivid as ever—the final moment upon them, the chaos of realization. He continued staring across the water. The stillness only amplified what time would not erase.
Eventually he threw the ribboned medal as far as he could, watching it flutter through the air, the sunlight reflecting off its shiny sides. It landed with a small splash. He watched the tiny ripples as they disappeared into the stillness, hoping the offering would quiet the karmic beast. It was growling loudly in the shadows of his soul.
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