Steve and I would like to thank you for the support you’ve shown for our stories. We’ve got another just about to be released called Backwater Pass.
In past posts, I’ve taken you through the land features and some of the history of the park. I thought this would be an opportunity to touch on the other 95%: the water. Containing both inshore and offshore waters, the park extends out to about the 45’ contour line in the Atlantic. The bay is mostly shallow and grassy where the ocean has scattered patch reefs and just offshore hosts the start of the Florida Keys reef system.
One of the main attractions of the park are the artificial Reefs. These have been around as long as man has taken to the seas. First in the form of sunken ships and now created by dumping construction debris. Regardless of their origin, the man-made reefs are natural fish attractors and when prepared properly are natural hosts for coral and marine life.
One of Biscayne National Park biggest draws is the Maritime Heritage trail featuring six wrecks. These popular dive and snorkel spots attract thousands of people every year. The book starts with Kurt, Allie, and Justine diving on one of these wrecks. A major element of the story is the disposal of a bridge to make a reef, although you’ll have to read the story to see how complicated that became.
Steve tells me there is one more story coming up called Backwater Tide which should be released in September. Mac Travis also makes an appearance in the story. Many of you may remember it was in one of Mac’s stories: Wood’s Betrayal where I first met both him and Justine. I owe him a lot and hope to pay it back with something I’ve left for him at the end which will be continue the story in Wood’s Tempest, which Steve tells me is scheduled to be released in November.
I have visited the Big Island of Hawaii twice and spent the night in the town of Volcano on one trip. Before sunrise that morning we went to the caldera by the park headquarters and watched the sun rise beyond the steaming pit. Touring the park and the rest of the island you can see evidence of the previous eruptions of Kiluea and Mauna Loa everywhere. Lava, now cooled, looks like rivers or fields of rock on the barren landscape. Even diving we saw formations created when the red-hot flowing lava was stopped by the sea.
Several years ago, a minor eruption almost erased the town and changed the coastline. The new black sand beach is the result of the wave action on the fres lava. At the end of the road where the flowing lava erased a small town, there is a farmers market held every Wednesday called Uncle Roberts. It’s like a Grateful Dead concert without the Dead and was featured in Storm Force.
The premise for Storm Force was derived from a major eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1790. It had been only ten years since Captain Cook had discovered the island. Known for his accurate charts, finding one of the coast would be the only way to confirm the changes made by the eruption— and what they could have concealed. Without the charts, only second and third hand accounts of the event have survived.
Now, for the first time in years, the volcano has erupted again, in much the same way. Fortunately there are enough early warning systems in place that the only damage to date has been to structures. There have been no serious injuries or fatalities.
DOWNLOAD STORM RISING & STORM FORCE FOR $1.99 EACH
OFFER ENDS JUNE 22
Steve and I have a new story called Backwater Key. He tells me there is going to be one more book in my series and then in October, there will be another Mac Travis Adventure. Backwater Key is a story about how things can go off the rails in the park during a government shutdown.
Biscayne Bay National Park has plenty of history. The island that I live on with Ray, Becky, Jamie, and of course Zero is called Adams Key now, but was originally Cocolobo Key. Developed in 1922, the island was visited by four presidents” Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon as well as then Senator John F. Kennedy. The only thing remaining is the large lawn where the two houses are located. The original club burned down in 1974 and the rest of the structures were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Another cool location from the book is Boca Chita Key. Located on the northern end of the park It is one of the two islands in the park that allows camping. There is a nice harbor, a beach, and a lighthouse. The sixty-five foot ornamental lighthouse was built in the 1930s by the Honeywell family when they developed the island as a family retreat.
There are two ways in and out of the keys by car. Card Sound Road was the original route with a wooden swing-style drawbridge over the bay. After WW II, US 1 was rerouted to its present course. On the approach to the Card Sound Bridge you can find Alabama Jacks. The famous bar has been around for fifty years and is known for its Conch Fritters and bikers (you might find some of them in the story).
If you want to follow along with the locations, I have updated the Google Map – CLICK HERE.
A friend of Steve’s, Wayne Stinnett has released a new book that I am enjoying right now called Enduring Charity. You can check it out by clicking here.
When National Parks Service special agent Kurt Hunter finds a woman washed up on his remote island in Biscayne National Park the case leads him to the world of high rolling boosters and the young players who will do anything to make their mark.
With millions on the line in the world of college football, recruiting the top players is crucial. Money and women are often used to lure the top high school prospects to schools. With big penalties for getting caught, boosters will do anything—even kill—to cover their tracks and keep their alma maters on top.
The launch price of $2.99 will be held for one week only. After that it will increase.
Available on Kindle and paperback.
Read the complete Kurt Hunter Mystery series:
I want to thank you all again for making Steve’s books such a success. He ran a promo of Backwater Bay a few weeks ago and it reached #29 in the entire Kindle Store.
It looks like my stories have turned into a series. Steve and I would like to announce the release of the third book: Backwater Cove which will be available on April 3. The fourth book, Backwater Key is available to preorder now and will be released May 21st. I’ve been bugging Steve to write the next Mac Travis Adventure. He says he’s on it and you can look for that release sometime in August.
Backwater Cove has some cool locations. It’s got Adams Key, where I live as well as South Beach and Miami. Some of the main action happens in a place called Stiltsville.
Development of the outer islands in Biscayne Bay started in the 1920s and 1930s. A lot of it fell under the “get rich quick schemes” which South Florida is notorious for. There are deep water canals that go nowhere and cleared areas that may or may not have been built on. The eye of Hurricane Andrew passed over the bay in 1992 erasing a good deal of it.
Stiltsville was started in the 1920s. Located a mile offshore in the shallows of the bay, the purpose of the original structures was to avoid prohibition. After 1933, the area became better know for gambling as it was legal then then if you were one mile from shore. At its peak the community totaled thirty structures. A few of the older clubs were Crawfish Eddies, The Calvert Club, and The Quarterdeck Club. Later on Party Central, The Miami Springs Power Boat Club (which still remains), and The Bikini Club.
“Off Key Biscayne is a renegade village on stilts where weekend residents live by their own laws. Their town hall is a floating Bikini Club that swings both day and night.” – Ward Kennedy from a 1967 article Bikinis on Stilts.
Hurricane Betsy in 1965 was the beginning of the end for Stiltsville. Following the storm fees were charged, permits ceased, and any structure with over 50% damage was to be removed. Over the years the number of buildings have dwindled to seven, which are now in a trust.
If there were a bad neighborhood in the park, Stiltsville would be it and it lives up to its reputation in Backwater Cove. If you want to follow along with the locations, I have updated the Google Map – CLICK HERE.
If you want some more true-life Keys adventure, be sure to check out Michael Reisig’s latest: True Tails of the Road to Key West
I can’t thank you enough for reading the first of my adventures: Backwater Bay. Steve has written another one, called Backwater Channel, that can be pre-ordered today and is released on Feb 15th. This was an interesting case and has some great locations. Biscayne Bay National Park, or what I call my “office” is set just to the south of Miami. With a view of downtown, the chimneys of the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant and its miles of cooling canals to the west, and mangrove lined shores everywhere else, the park is so varied, Steve thought I should give you a tour.
Check out the Google Map I’ve made with some of the landmarks and key locations in the first two stories: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1APBzyefPpzoNrFNBCHzFYb85Coc&usp=sharing. Each location has a picture of the spot to give you a better idea of what I see everyday.
The red dots are some of the landmarks I see or visit in my daily travels: my home at Adams Key, the park service headquarters building, and the offices of the Miami-Dade medical examiner and forensics lab. There are also a few other key landmarks that dominate the landscape and play a part in the stories. Check out the Homestead-Miami Speedway and the cooling canals at the power plant.
The blue dots are from the stories. You can see where Herb and Holly lived, the Miami Marina, and the locations in the backwaters of the park where stuff just seems to happen.
Check out Backwater Channel for the latest on Justine, Sid, Martinez, Susan McLeash, and the rest of your favorites.
Greetings from Adams Key in Biscayne National Park. My name is Kurt Hunter and I am a special agent for the National Park Service. It was through Mac Travis that Steve first met me. I always thought of myself as an ordinary guy, though once in a while I stumble onto some interesting things, but I never thought them story worthy. Steve insisted that there was some good stuff here and I thought I should say a few words and introduce myself before the release of my first book: Backwater Bay.
My posting here in Biscayne Bay is a whole lot different from Northern California where I was assigned for the last six years. I wasn’t after a change, but while fishing one of the streams in the forest there, I uncovered an intake pipe for the irrigation system which led me to the discover the largest pot grow ever found on government land. That didn’t go so well with the cartel running the operation-or my now ex-wife. Now, I’m out here on an island in what I call the park services version of the witness protection program.
My house is one of two residences on Adams Key. The small island is part of the chain of barrier islands separating Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Located about seven miles from the park service headquarters building in Homestead my park service issued center-console is my car.
I’ve met some interesting people since I’ve been here. Mac and his friends of course, as well as my new girlfriend, Justine, who works for Miami-Dade’s crime lab. Sid, the night shift medical examiner, and Chico, one of the local fishing guides have helped me learn the ropes out here. My neighbors on the island are Becky, Roy, and their two year old son Jamie. And of course there’s Zero, the islands security system.
I’ve been learning the park and picked up some boating skills, though I still have a lot to learn. The best way to learn new waters for me is to fish, and I’ve been working my way around the bay with some success. It was a pretty good existence until I found the body of a woman in the mangroves. Then everything changed.
How much would it take for you to kill someone close?
When a body is found floating in the mangroves of Biscayne National Park, Special Agent Kurt Hunter has his first real case. He’s not looking for the spotlight or notoriety—he’s had both with disastrous results. But that seems unavoidable as the trail leads him to South Beach and his introduction to the culture there is anything but comfortable.
In the National Parks Service’s version of the witness protection program, Kurt quickly finds out that the pristine waters surrounding Miami are very different from the National Forest he transferred from. Follow Kurt through this new world as he unearths a crooked families greed to solve the case.
Available on Kindle and paperback.
Hope you all had a happy holiday season. It’s been a busy few months for us relocating to Tampa. It’s great to be back in Florida. I lived here from 1985-2000. I’ve been fishing and paddling out in the bay and gulf whenever I can get a pass from home improvements. The good news is that the list is getting smaller.
I plan on taking a trip down to the Keys during January. It will be the first time back since we were there a week after Irma blew through. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress. On the way, I’ll be making a stop at Biscayne Bay National Park to do some research on the second Kurt Hunter Mystery. Just being in the Keys gives me great ideas and I’m going to check out some spots for the next Mac Travis Adventure.
Backwater Bay is available now to pre order and will be released January 9th. It is the first book in the Kurt Hunter Mystery series. As the name implies, it’s more of a mystery, police procedural than the Mac Travis books, but there’s still plenty of adventure. Kurt made his debut in Wood’s Betrayal as a newly relocated park service agent. Now he has his own mystery to solve. Placed in the Park Services version of the witness protection program after finding a huge pot grow out in California, Kurt now lives out on Adams Key, one of the barrier islands between the bay and ocean. Boating and saltwater fishing are new to him and it’s been fun writing about both from a novices perspective and how much trouble learning each can get you in.
My release schedule for 2018 should have something for everyone. Kurt Hunter Mysteries: Backwater Bay and Backwater Channel will be released January 9th and February 15th. After that I’ll be working on the next Mac Travis Adventure, which I hope to be out in early April. I also have plans for another Tides of Fortune book. I’m excited to use some of the locations and culture I learned in Rome and Sicily last fall in the next Storm book.
All for now and my best wishes for a prosperous 2018.
We should complete our move to Tampa by the end of the month. I’m very excited about getting back to Florida after being in California for the last 17 years. I was based out of Tampa from 1985-2000 and still have some good friends there.
Many thanks to all of you who sent suggestions for boat names. I have decided on Reef Runner for Mac’s center console and my Parker 21. Mac’s Trawler will be named Ghost Runner. There will be a scene where one of the recurring characters names them in the next Mac Travis Adventure. Any guesses who that might be? There will also be an appearance by the winners of the contest: Rusty Faulkenberry and David Culbreath in the book. I hope to be down in the Keys in January and will get the name on my Parker.
The Keys are recovering from Hurricane Irma but still need your help. Please check out this fundraiser set up by fellow author John Cunningham. Wayne Stinnett and several other familiar authors including myself are all part of this: https://www.gofundme.com/Writers-for-Keys-Hurricane-Relief. Many of you have written and messaged me in the last few weeks about either how Mac and the other characters in the series would have fared in and after the storm and if I would write a book about their experience.
This is the second hurricane that has affected me. I went through Andrew in 1992 and we have a vacation rental in Marathon. About ten days after the storm, we went down to check on it and found we were very fortunate. The house is new construction and came through well.
Several readers have emailed me asking if I have a book in mind about the storm. I have both experienced myself and seen firsthand the emotional toll these storms can take on people. I would never want anyone reading my work to have to experience this rollercoaster of emotions again. With this in mind, I have decided not to write about this storm directly. I will, probably in the next Mac Travis Adventure, use a fictitious storm to work in some of the ideas I got from our visit and watching The Weather Channel and my Facebook feed non-stop for a week.
I would guess that Mac and Mel’s house on the island would have survived the storm. It was rebuilt by Mac on concrete pilings. The island would most certainly have been under several feet of water from the storm surge, but the water would not have reached the main floor. Everything else on the island would be gone. We can only hope that Mac and Mel got out in time.
Remember Kurt Hunter, the ranger from Biscayne National Park from Wood’s Betrayal? He will be the lead character in Backwater Bay. Look for it in early January.
I’m proud to tell you all that I’ve teamed up with lots of other writers whose books are based in Florida to form the “Writers for Keys” Hurricane Relief.
Please visit our gofundme project and donate what you can – we have.
We write books and songs that take place in Florida and the Florida Keys because like our readers, we love it there. We love the tropical islands, the water and the unique people. Hurricane Irma hit the Keys hard , a brutal blow that left many homeless. We want to help. We’re asking you to help too.
We partnered with the Navy League Key West Council because 100% of donations we raise will go directly to the victims that need our help. The Navy League Key West Council is based there and will be contributing to other non-profits with boots on the ground, who are actively making an impact. Organizations like Task Force Dagger and Star of the Sea (SOS) have been providing labor, supplies, shelter, food, water and other forms of relief to the people on the ground.