Twenty-five years ago, Marblehead author David Roper was sailing along the coast of Maine when he became lost in a thick fog.
“I ended up in a tiny harbor on an island and met a 14-year-old boy who had been raised on the island,” said Roper. “He lived there alone with his parents.”
Roper combined that real-life experience with a newfound interest in archaeology and the Red Paint People, who lived 4,000 years ago in Maine, to write his latest book, “The Ghosts of Gadus Island.”
It is his fifth book. Roper also owns A-Script, a career advisory and resume writing company in Marblehead. (His first book, written in 1994, is “Getting the Job You Want… Now!”)
Roper, 73, grew up in Hingham and moved to Marbehead as a teenager. He captained a 60-foot schooner, Tradewind, here in the 1970s.
When he was 27, he captained a 135-foot paddlewheel cruise ship on the Mississippi River. That experience led to his book, “Rounding the Bend… The Life and Times of Big Red” about the redemption of a washed-up Mississippi River pilot and Vietnam vet. It also inspired several short stories, including those in his best-seller, “Watching for Mermaids,” published in 2011.
‘Sailing and family’
Roper says his writing focuses on “sailing and family.” He has always loved stories.
Growing up in Hingham, he used to row a boat out to nearby islands. “My imagination would just run wild,” he said.
Explaining his writing process, Roper said, “I’ll see something that I can’t get out of my head, and then I back into it. I get all my inspiration from walking in Waterside Cemetery. Walking enhances your thinking. It’s quiet. I can record my thoughts on my cell phone.” He also writes in his home office and on his sailboat.
“The Ghosts of Gadus Island” features Marblehead. [Gadus is the genus name for cod fish.] The story, set in 1967, focuses on a famous archaeologist and his granddaughter, who live in Marblehead and sail to Gadus Island looking for artifacts.
“They run into a boy whose parents disappeared out fishing. He’s been alone there for eight months. The story is about the interaction between these two teenagers, young love and loss.”
Roper is already thinking about his next book, which will focus on a grandfather who is planning a road trip. His teenage granddaughter doesn’t want him to go alone, so she joins in.
“I like the idea of a bright, progressive teenage girl and an octogenarian grandfather,” he said. Roper himself has a four-year-old granddaughter and one-year-old grandson.
Roper’s books are available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and at RoperBooks.com.