Friday's Harbor

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Diane, at a quiet moment


What Readers are Saying:

Killer whales are hardly cuddly, but Hammond’s sublime sensitivity and infectious empathy make these remarkable giants of the sea lovable. --Carol Haggas, Booklist



Look for the blue ball in "Friday's Harbor." Keiko had one just like it.



Friday's Harbor
a stand-alone sequel to Hannah's Dream)

As Friday's Harbor opens, it’s been three years since Asian elephant Hannah’s departure from the Max L. Biedelman Zoo, and the years have not been kind. Saddled with declining attendance, rising costs, and an empty porpoise pool, the zoo’s board has fired director Harriet Saul and recruited her replacement—none other than Truman Levy, the zoo’s former business manager and newly minted lawyer.

Truman’s aunt, eccentric heiress Ivy Levy, has traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, to assess a captive killer whale named Viernes (Friday). Appalled by his failing health and squalid living conditions, Ivy prevails upon Truman to bring Friday to the zoo for rehabilitation under the direction of marine mammal expert Gabriel Jump.

As Truman and Gabriel ready the zoo, the killer whale contacts Libertine Adagio, a gentle animal psychic and foe of whale captivity. At Friday's behest, she is present when the killer whale arrives at the zoo, and in the subsequent days becomes a fixture just outside the fenced pool’s perimeter. A proponent of holding one’s enemies close, Truman stuns Gabriel by offering the psychic a volunteer position with the whale rehabber and his staff.

Ivy and Libertine soon develop a close if unlikely friendship. They are joined at the whale pool by Hannah’s former keepers Sam and Neva, and many of the other characters introduced in Hannah’s Dream, to help Friday regain his health—at times, against seemingly overwhelming odds.

Listen to a radio interview I did on Community Forum, KNPT AM, in Newport, Oregon.

Listen to Bill Kenower and I talk about the writing process during an online interview on Author2Author, Author Magazine Online.

Read a feature article about Diane Hammond in the Pioneer Press, St. Paul's daily newspaper.

Behind Friday's Harbor

In January 1996, a killer whale was transported to a facility built exclusively for him at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Called Keiko, the wild-caught killer whale star of the hit movie Free Willy was in failing health after living for eighteen years in a small, hot pool at an amusement park in Mexico City.

From the minute Keiko arrived to the moment he left two years later, the international press reported almost daily on some achievement, antic, or controversy coming out of the project to rehabilitate and then release him back to the wild. He was a media sensation. Even now, most adults recognize his name and story.

As the killer whale’s full-time press secretary I witnessed his amazing recovery at the hands of a small group of men and women who spent hours each day swimming with him in a pool so cold that hypothermia was always a danger. Day in and day out, in all kinds of weather—most of it bad—these dedicated people kept him company for up to eighteen hours a day, inventing regimens, games and toys to challenge his mind and body. By the time he left Oregon for Iceland, Keiko was a masterpiece of buff muscle and horny vitality. He departed as he had arrived, in a cloud of controversy over the morality of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity.

Keiko would be my only killer whale, or at least my only real one—I took down my PR shingle for good a few months after his departure. Exhausted from the intensity of the previous two years, I tried to sort out the experience by doing what I always do: I wrote about it, creating scores of vignettes loosely based on the project’s defining moments, and especially on Keiko as I’d come to know him—sly, silly, charismatic, winsome, affectionate and, most of all, resilient.

Fast forward to Summer 2010, after the release of my fourth book, Seeing Stars, a novel about child actors in Hollywood. My editor and agent proposed that I next write a sequel to my third and most successful novel, Hannah's Dream. Always one for a challenge, I cast around for a meaningful story that would take me back to Bladenham, Washington, its tiny Max L. Biedelman Zoo, and the characters I and my readers had come to love.

After lots of false starts I decided to re-tool those rough vignettes I’d written so long ago, giving the fictional Max L. Biedelman Zoo and killer whale Friday some of Keiko’s real-world qualities and dilemmas. I also decided to enlarge the circle of characters I’d introduced in Hannah's Dream to include brand-new ones who would do much of this book’s heavy lifting: Ivy Levy, Truman Levy’s aunt and eccentric heiress; Julio Iglesias, Ivy’s passive-aggressive chihuahua; Libertine Adagio, a gentle little animal psychic; and Gabriel Jump, maverick and marine mammal rehabber.

As I once again started from scratch, I finally felt I was headed in the right direction.

As with Hannah’s Dream, it is my hope that while Friday's Harbor poses difficult questions about holding animals in captivity, readers will recognize that the book is, at its core, a love story.


Read an Excerpt from Friday's Harbor


          In Bogotá, Colombia a twenty-one-foot-long, nineteen-year-old, North Atlantic-caught killer whale swam around and around. His small, warm, cloudy pool was the main attraction of a theme park long past its glory days. Because he always swam in a counterclockwise direction, the centrifugal force may or may not have caused the fallen dorsal fin that curled tightly over his back. He was called Viernes—Friday—but he’d been given that name years and years ago and no one left knew why.
          Viernes hadn’t lived with or even seen another killer whale in eighteen years, which was how long he’d been in captivity. He wasn’t alone, though: he lived with a changing cast of bottlenose dolphins that hectored him mercilessly. He was delicately filigreed all over with rake-marks from their teeth: while they could move fast in this small pool, he barely fit, which made him slow and awkward. Whenever he dropped his tail flukes they rested on the bottom of the pool while his head stayed above water.
          It was all too obvious that the killer whale’s health was breaking down. Clusters of wart-like lesions encircled the base of both pectoral flippers and formed a black mass like bubbled tar above his tail flukes, and he was two thousand pounds underweight. But he still performed in shows twice a day on weekdays, three times a day on weekends and in summer, producing on command a series of lumbering bows that splashed the delighted children in the front rows around his pool. Sometimes there were birthday parties, too, which he enjoyed because the children were allowed to come closer, where he could watch them. They were allowed to pet his face and head, and he liked this most of all. When they went home they took with them cups and kites and stuffed plush toys in his likeness.
          In Colombia, he was a star.
From time to time people from other marine parks in other countries had come to assess his well-being; among the international marine mammal community he’d been considered at death’s door for years. They never stayed for long and nothing ever changed. But now, though he had no way of knowing it, a different kind of committee had arrived at the park’s invitation.
          The committee members included an older woman in a flowing, floor-length caftan and Nikes who held in her arms a tiny dog that interested Viernes very much. He’d never seen an animal like this before and he hoped she’d put it down so he could take a closer look, but although they stayed at his pool for an hour or more, she kept it in her arms.
          The woman reappeared off and on during the rest of the day, always with the dog and sometimes but not always with other people. At the end of the day she returned for the last time, accompanied by a man Viernes recognized from past visits. He and the woman talked and talked and talked, with their arms folded over their chests, considering him. This, too, had happened before.
          Viernes drifted to the far side of the pool and closed his eyes.

Chapter 1

          What would come to be known by the Levy family and friends as the Whale Business began that day in Bogotá. The woman in the flowing Egyptian caftan and cross-trainers was Ivy Levy, a longtime board member of the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington, who had traveled to Bogotá at the very last minute, filling in for another representative stricken with food poisoning.
          At sixty-two, by her own admission, Ivy was a boozy old gal with more time and money than she knew what to do with; broad in the shoulders and wide through the beam, canny and keen-eyed, plainspoken and possessed of unshakable convictions—that most people were stupider than they thought they were; that young people squandered their elders’ wisdom; that

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