Title: On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publisher: Penguin/Michael Joseph
Publication date: August 16th 2012
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a summer job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's holiday home in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation: a tropical island trumps the library any day.
T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having had cancer wasn't bad enough, he now has to spend his first summer in remission with his family -- and a stack of overdue essays -- instead of his friends.
Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. There, Anna and T.J. must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter, but even once their basic needs are met, they encounter plenty of other obstacles -- including the possibility, as the days turn to weeks and then months, that T.J.'s cancer could return. And, as T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man...
I loved On the Island! The story had me riveted from page one, and so I’m beyond thrilled to be part of this blog tour. We have Tracey here with us today to answer some questions about On the Island and it's stellar rise to success:
Q: I remember reading On The Island as a self-published title. Soon after it was like a fire spread on Goodreads and everyone was reading your story and loving it. Can you tell me how that felt and what kind of impact that had on a book deal?
It was a wonderful feeling. I actually had readers e-mailing me to let me know that On the Island was being discussed in various Goodreads groups; I didn't know! It was quite surreal to discover that people were talking about my book. To this day, I still receive reader feedback that is so heartfelt and lovely it brings tears to my eyes. And the willingness of readers to share such positive word-of-mouth recommendations definitely helped me attain publisher interest.
Q: I've recommended your story all over the place and every time I do the main concern is the age difference between T.J. and Anna. What inspired you to write a love story with such a wide age gap?
It was the challenge, actually. I knew that I needed a compelling pairing to make the story unique, and I also knew that if I could get the reader to fall in love with the characters, they'd be more likely to root for them to fall in love with each other. I remember watching the movie Castaway and wishing there had been another person on that island with Tom Hanks. If they could sell the idea that a man could have a meaningful relationship with a volleyball, why couldn't I convince readers that true love conquers all and age is just a number?
Q: In this story, just surviving and obtaining every day needs was a struggle for T.J.and Anna. What kind of research did you have to do about surviving in such circumstances?
I did a lot of research on dehydration, including finding out how long a person can stay alive without fresh water. I watched YouTube videos on how to make a fire using the bow and drill method (which is what T.J. used) and I remember feeling ecstatic when I discovered that breadfruit is high in Vitamin C (otherwise, T.J. and Anna really could have died of scurvy or some other illness caused by vitamin deficiency). I also read about malnutrition and how long it would take for it to cause problems even if you did technically have enough to eat.
Q: First of I'd like to say congratulations on the film deal, I was so excited to hear of it! How do you feel about your story being turned into a movie?
Thank you! I'm extremely excited about the possibility of seeing On the Island played out on the big screen. It will definitely be another surreal moment; I'm not sure I can wrap my mind around it (but I'm willing to try!).
Q: Will you have input in the film-making decisions?
Sadly, no. But there is a clause in the contract that states I can protest if they try to introduce an element which is clearly not a fit for the story (I've interpreted that to mean the addition of aliens or something equally as silly!).
Q: Who would you pick for your dream cast?
Jamie Campbell Bower is my new favorite for T.J. I used to want Taylor Kitsch - and it pains me to say this - but I think he's just a bit too old. Minka Kelly would make a wonderful Anna; I think she's beautiful and classy. John Goodman - from the T.V. show Roseanne - would be great as seaplane pilot Mick.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your upcoming book, Covet, and any other future projects in the works?
On the Island is contemporary romance (or romantic adventure as I sometimes refer to it). Covet is women's fiction so I'm changing genre a bit, but I think there's a fair amount of reader overlap between the two. Covet is the story of a couple whose marriage is tested when the husband loses his job during the recession. I think it's an issue many female readers can relate to. Covet is a heartwrenching yet ultimately hopeful love story (if that makes sense).
Thank you, Tracey for answering our questions and giving us some background on this amazing story! If you haven't had the chance to read this 5 star story (you can read my review here) you must pick it up!! I promise this does not disappoint.
About the author: Tracey Garvis Graves lives in a surburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband and two children. On the Island was Tracey's first novel and was self-published in the US, spent eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, was a Wall Street Journal top ten and USA today top fifteen.
On the Island Giveaway:
Penguin/Michael Joseph have graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of On the Island. The giveaway is limited to U.K. residents only. The only requirement is that you follow the blog via GFC. The giveaway will run for two weeks, so make sure you get your entry in soon. Good luck!
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