Author Tracey Garvis Grave’s first novel, On The Island, tells the tale of Anna, a 30-year-old teacher, and T.J., a 17-year-old boy, who become stranded on a deserted island in the Indian Ocean when their plane goes down in route to the Maldives. As Mallory W. so poignantly points out in her review of the book, Anna and T.J. quickly develop a strong bond and become each other’s reason to survive on the island leading to an against all odds style love story.
On the Island is racking up all sorts of praise making its way onto the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times bestseller lists and even being optioned by MGM for a possible movie. It seems people can’t get enough of this story of love and survival under the most difficult of circumstances and we’re incredibly honored Author Tracey Garvis Graves took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss the book and it’s appeal with us!
The Daily Quirk: Tell the readers a little about yourself…
Tracey Garvis Graves: I live in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with my husband and two children. I recently became a full-time writer and feel like I’m living a dream. On the Island is my debut novel and I’m hard at work on my second. It’s called Covet and it will be out sometime next summer.
TDQ: What do your like to do when you’re not busy writing?
TGG: I love to read and spend time with my family and friends. I’m also active on Facebook and Twitter.
TDQ: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
TGG: Probably junior high. I’ve always been a voracious reader and I knew that someday I’d want to see what it was like to be the one putting the words on the page.
TDQ: Do you have a favorite author or book?
TGG: I love Stephen King’s The Stand which is kind of strange because horror is not really a genre I normally read. I mostly read commercial fiction, women’s fiction, and contemporary romance.
TDQ: On The Island deals with some rather unique subject matter. What was your inspiration for telling this story?
TGG: 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?
TDQ: Did you know you wanted there to be a significant age difference between the characters from the start?
TGG: Yes, definitely. The premise rested on the challenge of taking two characters who really shouldn’t be together and creating a relationship that the reader would not only understand, but come to root for.
TDQ: It seems like it would be difficult to write from the perspective of a teenage boy – did you do any specific preparation to help you get inside T.J.’s head?
TGG: Well, I hope it’s not indicative of my maturity level, but I found it pretty easy to write from T.J.’s perspective.
TDQ: Your portrayal of survival on the island seemed very authentic. How much research was involved in your representation of life on a deserted island in The Maldives?
TGG: 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 Vitamam 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.
TDQ: What is it about a forbidden romance that you think appeals to readers?
TGG: I think for romance readers it provides an extra layer of conflict and challenge that the main characters will have to overcome which makes their inevitable happily-ever-after that much more satisfying.
TDQ: You recently announced on your blog that the book has been optioned by MGM. If you could choose any two actors to play the leads, who would they be?
TGG: Jamie Campbell-Bower for T.J. and Minka Kelly for Anna. I also think John Goodman, from the T.V. show Roseanne, would be wonderful as seaplane pilot Mick.
TDQ: Do you have an upcoming projects you would like the share with our readers?
TGG: I’m working on my second novel now. It’s called Covet and it’s women’s fiction.
TDQ: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
TGG: Write the book you want to read. Don’t try to write to a trend and don’t be afraid to write a little ‘out of the box’.
TDQ: Anything else you would like our readers to know?
TGG: I want the readers to know just how instrumental they were in the success of On the Island. Their positive word-of-mouth recommendations were wholly responsible for the book reaching the number of readers it did. I’m eternally grateful.