Islomania: An Evolutionary Basis for Our Attraction to Islands

Islands hold a special place in our collective unconscious. They are places of mystery, discovery, isolation, adventure, and occasionally horror. The mainland is where ordinary life occurs, but islands are special. Gods live on islands; so do monsters.

Throughout literary history, islands have played roles in many of our most revered texts. They have been portrayed as places to confront the unknown (The Odyssey), to remake oneself (Robinson Crusoe), to start a new life (Swiss Family Robinson), to found an ideal society (Utopia), or to face our cruelest selves (Lord of the Flies).

And it’s not just literature: throughout the history of mankind itself, islands have been places where exceptional individuals go beyond themselves to change the world: inventing new styles of art (Gauguin in Tahiti), creating revolutionary theories about the world (Darwin in Galapagos), or developing new ways to destroy the world (atom bomb testing at Bikini Atoll).

The undeniable romance to the idea of living on an island, spanning so much history and so many cultures, leads me to think that it must have several deeply ingrained, and probably evolutionary, bases. I am currently thinking there are two primary ones: going to an island involves a treacherous JOURNEY, and an island is a complete WORLD unto itself. There’s probably much more to it than this, but these facts help lend a mythological quality to island living that goes far deeper than whatever slick marketing techniques can be mustered to entice people to a destination.

THE JOURNEY: Only a select few are born on an island; everyone else has to travel to it from the mainland. Getting to it involves getting on a boat and crossing a body of water, an environment greatly inhospitable to human life, and a place that we humans simply shouldn’t be. Even in a modern boat, with lifejackets, radios and multiple other safeguards, the journey is inherently dangerous, and one can feel it. (And while an airplane involves a similar defiance of physics, being in an open-air boat has an immediacy that just can’t be matched by a commercial airliner.) In a bobbing boat, with waves lapping against the hull, waters churning around, and an unfathomable deep below, one becomes highly cognizant of the primordial ritual of baptism, and takes part in the Campbellian “hero’s journey” into the unknown, and unknowable.

Even without going to an island, the voyage out to sea puts one in a position to gain a new, deeper, and more nuanced perspective on mainland reality and one’s life there. However, arriving at an island creates a whole new dimension to this journey, and one can enter an entirely new reality.

A COMPLETE WORLD: While it may be true that “no man is an island”, an island is indeed an island, and upon stepping onto one, this fact is deeply, if inexplicably, sensed. Islands are a “whole”, they are complete unto themselves. Birds and winds may carry new forms of life to an island every so often, of course; but by and large, (natural) islands are complete ecosystems resting in equilibrium. The coastline creates a definitive, undeniable edge, and everything inside must work as a singular system. This leads, in a short time, to a realization among an island inhabitant: even though the interior may be a frighteningly dense forest and not obviously comprehensible, the boundaries of the island are clear and unarguable. One knows that the land is finite, and that with enough time, it can all be understood. An island is not just a world unto itself, but a world that a mere mortal can come to make sense of. It is a place where one can gain an existential foothold in the cosmos, and know everything there is to know – at least about this one world. This godlike understanding creates a sense of tranquility that simply can’t be matched on the mainland, where one can never really, truly, know where one is.

Not all islands are “Islands,” in the sense I am describing. A true “Island”, in the sense I mean (and in the way I think we all intuitively feel it), has no or very few people, and is not too big: otherwise it takes on too many characteristics of the mainland, and loses its “island-ness”. If there are too many people on the island and a society too connected to the rest of the world, then it starts to feel like the mainland: an Island is an isolated escape, a place to find one’s true self, not a place where one remains tied to customary life. Likewise, if an island is so big that it can’t be readily and easily comprehended by a single person, then it again starts to feel like the mainland: a big mass of land which one can only know in bits and pieces.

Cuba, for example, thus fails as an Island, on both counts. The highly developed islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas (and many other Caribbean islands), while small, are too highly developed and too tied to mainland culture to be a true escape. And places like New Zealand and Madagascar, while largely raw and uninhabited, are too large to be exponentially understood as an island. And don’t even consider the Florida Keys or Long Island: as soon as one can walk or drive there, the land is no longer an island. These places may happen to be islands by geographical definition, but they aren’t “Islands.”

Amble Resorts’ mission, paraphrased, is to develop places that express their true spirit, or genius loci. Thus the above understanding of the Platonic Island is one of the main driving forces behind the vision for Isla Palenque, and our development will embody the kind of tranquility that can be gained by island living.

Let’s begin by considering the island itself: both its size (400 acres) and its natural features (highly varied topography, lots of distinct, untouched ecosystems) make it eminently, but not easily, knowable. Isla Palenque is small enough to be understood, at a very superficial level, in one to two days of very hard hiking (it would taker closer to a week at the leisurely pace of a vacationing tourist). But it’s also large enough and has enough diverse topography and distinct ecosystems that it takes at least a month to fully explore, and a few solid years to understand the natural rhythms that affect and give life to the island year to year. So Isla Palenque is not easily knowable – that would be boring – but comprehensible in a few days, and largely understandable with a few months of concerted effort; at the same time, its jungles and lagoons also contain a level of subtle mystery that reward years of living there, if one so desires.

Next, look at how our development respects these facts and creates an environment where Palenque’s Island-ness can shine through. The island is being very lightly developed. Less than 5% of the area is being built upon, leaving over 95% as either undisturbed preserve (most of it), or as delicately enhanced landscape: gardens dedicated to local flora and fauna, manicured jungle, an organic farm, and the like. This means that most buildings will be obscured by jungle or gardens, and unseen by guests.

There’s no way to reach Isla Palenque but by boat. It’s difficult to come here, and one must make the legendary journey I’ve described. As you approach the island, you will see little more than the occasional roof peeking through the jungle until reaching the arrival dock, when some of the larger elements of the hotel will become visible, built in our signature raw, exotic style that indicates the “otherworldliness” of our island development. And while it won’t feel completely uninhabited, homes and rooms will feel so secluded that you could be forgiven for forgetting that there were others on the island.

From this secluded vantage, you can see your mainland life anew – you can have a new, unencumbered life on the island; and when it’s time to return to mainland, it can be done with new vigor, new insights, and a sense of (dare I say it?) spiritual renewal.

Romance Novelist Gives Readers Recipes Used in Gripping Story

Interview conducted by Irene Watson Managing Editor of Reader Views with Jane Marie Malcolm, author of “The Goodbye Lie.”

Irene: “The Goodbye Lie” is your first installment of a historical series set on Florida’s Amelia Island. Please give us an overview of this romance novel.

Jane Marie: Eighteen-year-old Breelan Dunnigan and her cousin decide they need one last adventure before they marry husbands they have yet to meet. Under the watchful eye of an attractive ship’s captain, they sail to New York City to visit family. With her cousin’s innocent encouragement, Breelan makes some serious choices, which follow her home to Amelia Island. The consequences are dramatic and very deadly.

Irene: What inspired you to write “The Goodbye Lie”?

Jane Marie: I never had any intention of becoming a writer until I found out my husband was going to be transferred from Amelia Island. I knew I’d be desperately homesick, so I began thinking how writing a book about the island would be a great way to remember the place.

Irene: Please tell our reading audience how you came up with the characters, and did you model them after any particular people that you know?

Jane Marie: Before I could put pencil to paper, a fisherman selling his catch walked into the store where I was working. He was wearing a yellow slicker, had craggy skin, auburn curls any woman would envy, and powder blue eyes, the color of a husky dog. When he left, I realized I had the first character for “The Goodbye Lie.” I named him Catfish.

I can tell you that the matriarch in “The Goodbye Lie,” Miss Ella, is based on my wonderful mother. She prizes her family above all else. She’s a strong woman, able to endure when those around her shatter.

Irene: Does your mother know that you based one of the characters after her? If she does, what is her reaction?

Jane Marie: No. My mother passed away long before I ever thought about writing “The Goodbye Lie.” The book is dedicated to my father, so he knows, and is very pleased and proud. He sees shades of his wife in Miss Ella.

Irene: Quite often a writer will put some of their own personality into the character. Is there one in particular that alludes to your own experiences?

Jane Marie: Breelan plays hand bells, has a cat, and writes like I do. I can be impetuous at times as is she, but Bree’s recklessness mars her life, whereas I’ve been much more fortunate.

Irene: Readers can browse your website and find jewelry as well as recipes that relate to the story. Tell us more about the experience readers can have besides just reading your book.

Jane Marie: I am proud to have over 50 articles on our website, http://www.graciousjanemarie.com/ (my sister / partner gave me the title of gracious because I love times past when romance was disguised with a stolen glance or a brush of a hand on an arm), that tie into “The Goodbye Lie.” If you’re reading the book and Grammy is serving her Coffee-Roasted Beef for Sunday dinner, the recipe is on site for you. Instructions for making a braided rug, church pew hankie doll, potato stamps, a tussie mussie, plus the history of joggling boards (also called courting boards), the Amelia Light (lighthouse), and Victorian theatre etiquette are just a few of the fun articles available for readers to continue the “Goodbye Lie” experience. I’m doing the same thing with the second book in the series, “Velvet Undertow,” which will be available in the late summer of 2006. Martha Bear(TM), the mascot and spokesbear for our site, makes a cameo appearance in each of the novels in the series. At RascallyReaders.com, Martha Bear and her critter friends star in my silly short stories designed to encourage family reading. As children listen to / read Martha’s adventures, they learn simple lessons about the core values of home, family and friends.

“The Goodbye Lie” Jewelry Collection is designed and handmade by my sister, Nancy Kamp, to honor the women in the story from Breelan and cousin Nora to sister Carolena, Aunt Noreen, Aunt Coe, Miss Ella, and even Grammy and Peeper, the friendly-fussing grandmothers.

Irene: Are the recipes your own creation or some of your favorites?

Jane Marie: Deviled Eggs are from my mother, Roasted Chestnuts from my father, Ham & Bean Soup from my husband, the Coffee-Roasted Beef is a cowboy recipe from his aunt in New Mexico. I’ve culled recipes from all over and worked them into the story. I wanted everyday home cooking that people like me could and did prepare. The recipes bring life to the story because readers can actually make, eat and enjoy some of the same foods the characters do.

Irene: Gerri Smith, a reviewer for Reader Views commented, “You are saddened, thrilled, surprised and angered,” as she read the book. Obviously these emotions come up for most readers. Please tell us how you combine all the emotions into one plot in order to keep the readers turning pages.

Jane Marie: After the tornado in the opening scene, I introduce the large Dunnigan family as they go about their every day lives, squabbling, and laughing. My intention is to lull the reader into the easy living setting of a seaside town in 1882. The real adventure begins the first moment Breelan leaves the security of her little city. I want the reader to get angry at the foolish choices made, be saddened by the unexpected, be thrilled by the danger, and surprised by the conclusion.

Irene: How much and what research did you have to do for the story to happen in the late 1800s?

Jane Marie: I’ve always loved history, but I particularly enjoy the later 1800s. I took the classes offered at the Amelia Island Museum of History that focused on the town of Fernandina on Amelia Island. I learned, among other things, to look up at the interesting architectural elements of the still standing buildings down our Centre Street and around town. I incorporated some of actual people from the past into the story to add “fictional authenticity.” I’ve spend countless hours doing what I love- discovering details of times gone by, to fill notebooks with lists of period social customs, activities, clothing, weather, politics of the time, food, etc. After the basic book was written, I went back and punched it up to add detail that turns a reader’s black and white mental image to one bursting with textures and colors and the feeling that you’re in the very parlor, the preverbal fly on the character’s wall.

Irene: What is the difference between a historical romance novel and any other romance novel?

Jane Marie: In historical romance I have so much more to work with in regard to background material. Instead of the present day heroine going with a date to the hamburger stand and a movie where they might “make out,” my historic heroine must prepare for the ball. This would include writing her r.s.v.p., choosing the perfect gown, tying her hair in rags to curl it, bathing not showering, a dusting of powder, all the proper layers of undergarments, donning her gown, gloves, and cape, being accompanied by a chaperone, filling out her dance card. All this, and she may only be touched by the gloved hand of her dance partner. The idea is to transport readers back in time so they, too, are fascinated by the lost glories of the past.

Irene: Do you have a particular romance novelist’s writing that you admire and why?

Jane Marie: I saw the movie, “Gone with the Wind,” when I was nine-years-old. That’s when I fell in love with period romance, clothing and customs. I’ve been a “Windie” ever since and have a “Gone with the Wind” section on our website dedicated to Margaret Mitchell’s masterpiece. You can read about my unforgettable experiences of attending the 50th anniversary costume balls in Atlanta, Georgia to honor the release of the book in 1936 and the film in 1939.

Irene: Did writing “The Goodbye Lie” have a broader mission than just being a good romance novel? If so, what was your mission in writing it?

Jane Marie: I wanted to say that no matter your misdeeds, the love of family is forever.

Irene: This is the first of a series of historical novels. Are you planning to use the same characters throughout the series?

Jane Marie: Yes. I purposely gave the Dunnigan family four children, a mother, father, two grandmothers, and a pesky aunt and her family next door so I would have plenty of folks with which to work. Remember, there are generations, past and present, I haven’t mentioned in the story so far. My series can go on indefinitely! All the novels in the series stand alone. You will be able to read them out of order if you want to.

Irene: When will your next novel be published?

Jane Marie. The target date is early August 2006.

Irene: Thank you Jane Marie. Is there anything else that you would like your reading audience to know about you or your book?

Jane Marie: Thank you, Irene. Frankly, I just wish I could meet all potential readers out there because I’ve been told my enthusiasm and sincere love for my imaginary characters gets most folks I talk to all fired up and anxious to enter the “Goodbye Lie” world. So, here is a warm welcome to all.

Phuket – An Island Paradise

Phuket and Patong are the main tourist destinations on the island, with the latter being for the party crowd rather than for people who just want to relax. It is up there with Ibiza and Tenby in West Wales and the Greek island of Corfu as an international party spot so if you want nightlife and hangovers for the whole of your holiday, this is the ideal place for you. Phuket is less hectic, and has more to offer the holiday-maker who wants to enjoy the cheaper prices in Thailand and do some shopping.

Both places are full of hotels and guest houses and a view from a boat at night will show the multi-storey hotels and the lights on the shoreline. You can take a cruise to the little islands which are in the Andaman Sea and see how the islanders live; some are the sea- gypsies who earn their living by collecting shells and other marine life that is washed up on the beaches and which can be turned into decorative items for tourists.

The Andaman Sea is inviting and you will enjoy swimming in its blue waters, although take heed of the warnings if you are on the beach during the monsoon season which runs from May until October. You can hire a sun bed for a day on one of the long stretches of sand, which are kept clean and pristine, although of course, you should take any rubbish with you when you leave. There are many beaches around both Phuket and Patong, and you can explore them to find the one that suits you best. Sellers will roam the sands with fresh fruits and cold drinks and there are always café-bars and restaurants in tourist areas.

The island has something for everyone including families with children, but you have to ensure that children are adequately protected from the heat, and don’t get prickly heat, which makes them miserable. Keep them as cool as possible and remember that you can get sunstroke from being in the sea, for a long time as the water reflects the sun’s rays onto the body if you are not fully immersed.

Perhaps you would like to sip a drink while lazing in a hammock, and you can do this on the island, just find you ideal spot and sling your hammock between two inviting palm trees and relax. That’s what holidays are for.

Longboat Key Condos – Many Options For Island Living

Encompassing an gorgeous stretch of beach front property, Longboat Key has become an oasis of opulent island style living. With a name like Longboat, one would have to assume that the island is long and rightfully so; the key is 11 miles long, stretching from Sarasota, all the way up to Manatee County. Split in half between Manatee and Sarasota County, this elongated island captures the best of Bay and Gulf front living.

The island is made up of 8,000 permanent residents and 20,000 during the winter, including the seasonal residents. Longboat Key is known for being more private and exclusive than Sarasota’s other Keys with a very limited number of public beaches with excessive traffic. Residents here cherish their privacy. In addition, residents have quick access to all of the restaurants, shopping and culture in St Armands Circle and downtown Sarasota.

Just as beautiful as Siesta Key, Longboat Key is more widely known for its privacy and exclusivity. Consisting of mainly luxury beach, golf, and tennis resorts, this plush and meticulously landscaped island also accommodates opulent estates and immaculate condominiums with amazing sunset views. With only a few accesses to public beaches, privileged Longboat Key residents can take advantage of the tranquil and uncluttered beaches throughout the year.

Popular and attractive, Longboat Key condos are highly favored for their unforgettable water front views, ample amenities, immaculately landscaped grounds, private beach access, and for their luxurious and posh lifestyle. Residents can enjoy all of the amenities of a home and all of the benefits of a maintenance free lifestyle. Comprised of mainly beach, golf, tennis and yacht resorts, seasonal and permanent residents can indulge in a plethora of effortless conveniences within there gated community. Casual settings or an elaborate ambiance, the choice is yours when selecting a condo which may include Grand Mariner, Tangerine Bay, La Firenza, En Provence, or many others.

Built with a timeless expression of style, Longboat Key Condos exude elegance, luxury and charm and present a peaceful and serene atmosphere. Whether your preference is an elegant luxury condominium directly on the Gulf of Mexico, a town home on the Longboat Key Club golf course, or a condo with a boat dock on Sarasota Bay, there are options to suit every lifestyle. Many owner choose to use their condo for a portion of the year while renting it out when not in use. Condo prices on Longboat Key start in the $300,000’s and go up to well over $5 million.

Fanning Island – 3 Things I Loved About This Island

Fanning Island is an amazing island to visit, not many cruise ships still go there, but some are still offered; if you choose to include it on your itinerary, you won’t be sorry. Below you will discover 3 things I loved about Fanning Island and why I recommend visiting it someday. It may be a long trip for only getting to spend the day there, but that will be a good day.

1. Remote and Peaceful: Because Fanning Island is essentially located in the middle of nowhere, or rather the middle of the ocean and is so small, it doesn’t get any more remote and peaceful than this place. It is so small in fact that it is at risk of extinction if the water levels keep rising. But for now, the beautiful circular island features palm trees lining up all that way around and is an amazing sight to see as you start to approach it after a full day and night at sea.

2. Authentic Island Living: The culture and people who live on Fanning Island are fascinating and they greatly appreciate the visitors who come to see their beautiful home and buy their well crafted souvenirs. The people are friendly and very open to outsiders who come to see their home and put on musical shows to entertain. They do feature a post office too, but it takes quite some time for letters to make it to your destination.

3. Dreamy Blue Lagoon: The most amazing feature of this island is its dreamy blue lagoon that makes up the center, as the island circles around it. Visitors can enjoy a lovely swimming spot while sipping drinks from pineapples and coconuts. Your cruise ship docks away from the island and you are tendered in on smaller boats, the cruise ship actually looks massive compared to this little island; truly showing how fragile this piece of land, this home to many, really is.

Go to Fanning Island and see this amazing place for yourself. It is remote and peaceful and you’ll get to see first hand authentic island living. Visitors don’t get to actually stay overnight on the island, but the day you do get to relax there is still well worth it. The dreamy blue lagoon that adorns the center is not like anything you’ve ever seen before and it will continue to be in your dreams long after you have left this amazing island and its people.