Belhaven resident publishes first novel

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 16, 2024

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Twenty years in the making, “Belhaven Blue,” a book of adventure, romance, and magic on the high seas, is the first novel by Belhaven resident Jason Caplan. As an accomplished marine biologist, avid fly fisherman, entrepreneur, and teacher, Caplan always thought that one day he would write a book. “My mom is the real writer in the family,” said Caplan. “She wrote stories for Alfred Hitchcock, the Saturday Evening Post, and has always served as an inspiration for me and would always encourage me to write.”

Caplan said although the idea of writing the book has been years in the making, he really didn’t get serious about it until two years ago while teaching at North Carolina State University. As a scientist, he has written countless scientific articles, owned and operated Biotech businesses where they used positive microorganisms to degrade hazardous waste on both land and sea and was a teacher.

“I’m really proud of the work I have accomplished as a marine biologist, and the countless research articles I have written over the years, but I had this yearning for a path in writing where there were no limits,” said Caplan. “With fiction there are no boundaries or limitations. So I decided to take the shackles off and just go with the flow of things and just let the story go where it wanted. It really has been a very fun and exciting ride.”

When Caplan and his wife Stephanie first visited Belhaven in 2004 after winning a free weekend at a local Airbnb, they knew it was calling their names. “We simply fell in love with the people and the environment here on that trip and purchased an old fishing camp then and there, knowing that someday we would call Belhaven home. I also love fly fishing and what a better place to fulfill that passion than here. It is such a cool thing to tie your own fly, cast it out, and catch a fish. With fly fishing you are totally in touch with that fish.”

Caplan’s love of Belhaven and his passion for fly fishing are conveyed throughout the book.

It is a fast-paced adventure of sport and romance set in Belhaven. Hard-luck professional bass fisherman Sonny Blue is the only pro to use a fly rod instead of conventional fishing gear, an equipment choice that has not paid off for the 32-year-old. After yet another dismal failure in a bass tournament, Sonny meets a strange man at a local tackle shop who gifts him a magic fly called Percival. Sonny’s luck dramatically changes, both professionally and romantically, as beautiful reporter Ava Tyson convinces him to enter the world-famous Big Rock Tournament in Morehead City, North Carolina. There’s a big problem: Sonny must now boat a blue marlin over 400 pounds just to meet the minimum requirements for a legal catch, a feat never achieved with a fly rod.

“I tell everyone it is a book of friendship, love, passion, and David and Goliath,” said Caplan.

However, as Caplan pointed out, the book is not just a love story between Sonny and Ava, but his own personal love story with Belhaven. “My goal was to never make money but to honor the wonders of this area and my love for it, which I tried to convey throughout the book” said Caplan. “But, I also have children and I wanted to have some sort of legacy for them to be proud of. That, was a big part of what drove me. My mother also passed away at the age of 93 from COVID and part of this is to honor her memory.”

On Friday, Mar. 22, RiverBend Cultural Arts Center in Belhaven will be hosting a book signing for Caplan from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.