Having just won over $900 million after taxes in the Powerball, an obscure accountant named Howard Rosen develops a plan to hold onto his celebrity status longer than just 15 minutes, in Fame Island, a satirical novel about our obsession with celebrity. Howard’s Plan? Step One: disappear. Step Two: finance the overthrow of a corrupt Caribbean island dictator. Step Three: reemerge a hero, buy an island, and throw parties for celebrities. Enter guinea pig Jude Johnstone–a tabloid writer for Celeb-Ration Magazine, and the first person narrator of the story. Middle aged, fat, luckless, and broke, Jude has a huge incentive to take a risk on Howard’s scheme, and he has his own plan, too, to get inside the governor’s graces by posing as a reality show producer for “The Celebrity Factor.” Hiring his old traveling buddy Grover, Jude is soon off on an island adventure that could either net them a million bucks, tax free, or get them eaten by sharks. What Jude is counting on is a turn in the weather, a turn in his luck, and a return favor from George Clooney or Jimmy Buffett, in exchange for donations to their favorite charities. First an audiobook narrated by Emmy winning actor Kristoffer Tabori, the novel is now in ebook and trade paperback formats. “Very enjoyable, lots of twist and turns…it would make a great film,”—Kevin Reem, indy film producer, formerly with Disney.
The novel was inspired by the true story of John Caldwell, who developed Palm Island in the Grenadines after sailing his own boat around the world with his family from Los Angeles, where he was a social worker. They ended up in the Grenadines, where John approached the government of St. Vincent with an audacious plan: to develop the island called Prune, and hire natives on neighboring Union Island to do it. They spent the next 20 years developing the place “from a mosquito infested hellhole,” as he told me, “into a paradise.” I was there on assignment from a travel magazine, after seeing an ad for the Palm Island Beach Club in a magazine in Barbados. His story of fighting off renegades who had taken Union, and came for Palm, (together with sailing tales told in his book Desperate Voyage, plus experiences in the Grenada invasion) sparked my idea of telling the story of “Coconut Johnny” in fiction. (He planted over 8000 palm trees by hand.) John always wanted a movie to be made on his story, but several attempts at getting a good producer failed. This audio movie novel wasn’t published before his death, but his ambition and hard-working attitude continue to be appreciated by those who visit Palm Island today, as an upscale resort.