Brad Bertelli, Steward of Florida Keys History

I was 16 when I told my mother I wanted to live on an island, sip rum, and write. It took the better part of a decade before I followed through. With a backpack and a couple of hundred bucks in my pocket, the big idea was to go to Captiva Island in Southwest Florida. There was a resort on the island called South Seas Plantation offering employee housing. I bought a one-way ticket out of Southern California that landed at Miami International Airport. The first night I slept on the thinly-carpeted floor of a concourse. In the morning, I took the first Greyhound Bus rolling across the state and into Fort Myers, where I spent the night before hitchhiking out to Captiva the next morning.

Islamorada, Florida Keys, has been home since 2001. I’m still writing, though generally not the fiction I initially imagined. My history column appears weekly in the Keys Weekly, and I’ve published a few books about local history, snorkeling, and the Netflix series “Bloodline.”

After writing for the Southernmost Skunk Ape Society, “Florida Keys: the Skunk Ape Files” also came to fruition.

Life isn’t all writing. Since 2013, my full-time gig has been working as the curator and historian at the Keys History & Discovery Center.