My Trump Connection

trumpInteresting story. Found this in an article online from 1993 in Caribbean Beat magazine. Caldwell was owner of Palm Island in the Grenadines, West Indies when I arrived around the same time to interview for another magazine, Cruising World (a yacht mag.) He told me about Streisand, but not Trump. Several celebs wanted to buy the place. When I later wrote a novel based on John’s story, I called it FAME ISLAND, detailing a Powerball winner’s battle to save the island from development (and using a Survivor type reality show as cover to fight a corrupt governor on neighboring Union Island.) !  Well, Mark Burnett happened to be producer of Survivor and The Apprentice, so I included a quote by Trump: “People are impressed by fame. Think big and live large.” Imagine my surprise to see the other day Trump liked Palm too! Caldwell died, and his sons sold the island to a private company. The audiobook version is narrated by Emmy winner (and Star Wars gaming voiceover and TV actor/director) Kris Tabori; the ebook version is titled “The Instant Celebrity.” Caldwell had sailed around the world with his family to discover the place, then spent 20 years with a wheelbarrow transforming it into paradise. He always hoped a movie would be made there, so I wrote a fictional version that includes his account of fighting off an attack from renegades. The audiobook was directed by a Grammy winning dramatist, and got accolades from a Disney producer, who said, “it would make a great movie, lots of twists and turns.” Alas, it was an indy press and not in hardcover first, and so didn’t get much press.


Also interviewed pianist Lola Astanova, who Trump admired (and who played in Palm Beach.) The photo below shows her with Trump and Julie Andrews in 2012 at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Astanova reposted it from my Instagram feed. Andrews starred with one of my fav actors, James Garner, in the anti-war classic “The Americanization of Emily,” and read the intro to Garner’s biography. Garner’s daughter liked my review of the biography, AND Tabori (narrator of Fame Island above) was once in The Rockford Files as a guest star! So that’s my Kevin Bacon “6 degrees” moment. (Oh, and I also penned a Kindle ebook “TrumpWorld: Post Election Daymares.” It’s a fantasy on reading in honor of my mentor, Ray Bradbury.)




Audiobooks 101

Kindle books

Imagine a book that, much as you want, you just can’t drop what you’re doing to read right now. Maybe it’s a mystery or suspense by an author whose movie version intrigued you enough to crave a deeper look. Maybe there’s a whole list of books you’ve been meaning to read. But with so many projects and errands jostling for your attention, you anticipate barking at least one “Happy Holidaze!” before, at last, you can finally flop into that comfy lounge chair.

Why wait, though? Audiobooks to the rescue! These audio movies play anywhere, from car to kitchen to laundry room, enabling you to immerse yourself in magical, romantic worlds beyond the cook stove or coffee table (where you’re either wrapping presents or puzzle-fitting ones described as “easy assembly.”) How fun is this multi-tasking diversion? More fun. (Funner is not a word…although it should be.) More people should give audiobooks a try, too, because it’s the “funnest” way to read.

Narrators should know. They read aloud for a living, and give life to characters on the page via inflection, dialect, and tone. Many are professional stage or screen actors. Their job is to create such believability that they can disappear into the moment, and conjure scenes within the listener’s mind. Before I became a reviewer, I would listen to them while sorting mail at the post office. I got through literally thousands of books that way, while doing repetitive work with my hands. You can too.

Audiobooks come in CD format for your portable, stereo, or car player. This includes authors from Tom Clancy and John Grisham to Janet Evanovich and Ken Follett. I asked actress and narrator Rosalyn Landor about Maeve Binchy’s A Week in Winter: “Binchy was masterful in describing the inhabitants of her stories, so as I picture each one, they take on a life of their own as I speak for them. This one takes you to Ireland, so I hope that if you choose to travel there with Maeve Binchy and myself, you’ll enjoy the experience!”

(©2015 by Jonathan Lowe in COSTCO CONNECTION magazine)


Fame Island

The Instant Celebrity

Review from Audible: “Picking a veteran Hollywood screen and Star Wars voiceover actor for this was genius. This is an audio movie possessing wit, charm and intrigue in spades.”


Radio Grenadines aired a clip of the novel, as narrated by actor Kristoffer Tabori. The station is on Union Island, one mile from Palm Island, and is heard in St. Vincent and Grenada. The novel is set on Union and Palm, and postulates a coup attempt against a corrupt governor there. (The island was once taken over by renegade invaders in real life.) Today the place is bustling and friendly, a tourist destination. Palm Island was originally known as Prune island and, despite the allure of its sandy beaches, was uninhabited and contained quite a lot of swampland in its low-lying interior. In 1966 the island was leased by John and Mary Caldwell from the St. Vincent & the Grenadines government. They reclaimed much of the sodden interior by planting coconut palms, a habit John had developed on many of his previous voyages, earning him the nickname “Johnny Coconuts.” Fittingly, Prune Island became Palm Island, and the couple began constructing a 10-room hotel called the Palm Island Beach Club which they ran for the next 35 years. (I visited John to interview him for various travel magazines like Adventure Travel and Cruising World, and was inspired by his true story in writing my own.) Their hotel business was eventually sold and redeveloped after John died. 

Kristoffer Tabori

Fame Island

In CD or MP3-CD format or download from Audible or or Downpour or iTunes. Also ebook.