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Michener has no plans for Florida saga

The only Florida in James A. Michener's life will be in his address, not in his typewriter. The 83-year-old author said he doesn't want to tackle another of the huge geographical novels that have helped make him one of America's most popular writers. His books include Texas, Hawaii, Poland and Caribbean.

"The Florida writers are doing fine. They don't need my help," Michener said.

Those books take months of research, Michener said. "I have to be absolutely immersed. I think that unless your head is under water, you're not baptized....That's too onerous at this time."

Michener, the newest resident of Eckerd College's College Harbor condominiums, met the media Wednesday afternoon to talk about himself and why he and his wife, Mari, decided to spend their winters here.

They were looking for a winter home that offered mental stimulation along with a pleasant setting, Michener said.

"I know that mere quiescent retirement is quite often fatal," he said. "I take long walks every day. I watch my health, but I also try to keep my mind active.

"Mari and I have lived in an area, a rather favorable one, where all (the residents) were interested in was golf and the Wall Street reports and that was pretty bleak. We both felt we were a little better than that."

Michener will assist in creative writing courses during the fall term. The couple will move to Austin, Texas, for the spring term, where he will continue to be a visiting professor. They will spend summers in Maine.

"I will help the younger professors teach their courses. I don't want to be responsible for the grading of students," he said. "I am a resource. I have learned something about books in years past and could be helpful to them."

At Eckerd, he said, "I really expect to listen. I am one of the great listeners in this world."

Just because he doesn't plan another Alaska or Texas doesn't mean Michener is giving up writing.

As is his routine, Michener plans to rise early each day, eat a simple breakfast and write from 7:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m.

"I'm not just a big novelist," he said. "I've done a broad spectrum of things."

Though he has been publishing books for more than 40 years, Michener said he isn't yet satisfied with his works.

"None of them came easy," he said.

His favorite?

"Always the next one because you hope you'll get it right the next time."