1. What is the idea behind the book?
The idea behind my book is violence and death as entertainment. We already have some forms of that. The possibility of fatal violence helps fuel the popularity of car racing, for example. In my book the TV stations, with sub-rosa support from the federal government, glorifies danger on reality TV. They put seven essentially incompatible people on an island in Lake Superior for six months without enough food and the prospect of freezing to death in winter. They add some guns and maps, and then tape everything in the hope that some of the performers won’t survive. The audience eats it up.
2. How did you do your research?
Researching this book was fun. I traveled to Isle Royale in Lake Superior. That includes a four-hour boat ride. Isle Royale is our least visited national park, and there are wolves and moose (which you don’t often see) and a lot of other animals. I wandered to get a feel for the book’s setting. I remember crossing a meadow near the rocky shore and kicking up a huge cloud of grasshoppers. The noise made me jump. I put that in the book.
3. Tell us about the characters.
The characters are as real as I could make them. They are troublemakers, designed to produce conflict. The TV show’s producers hope the beautiful Maureen will invite conflict among the men. She is irresistible in her bikini. Conflict ensues. Another woman is bisexual and athletic. One of the men is thoughtful and tries to knit the group together. We all know people like this, but we never know what they will do when thrown together on an island, being watched by cameras.
The characters come from my imagination, of course, and I wanted them all to be different, easy to follow. The gorgeous redhead, the gambling addict, the unpredictable black man, the ex-Navy SEAL, the psychologically damaged Valentín. They’re all terrific characters. They boil, they confer, they fight, they make love—but overall, they must survive against terrible odds. Will the TV audience find that entertaining? They wonder about that.
4. What do you think about violence in the world today?
Violence is decreasing in the world. I know that sounds crazy, with all the violence we still have, but there’s less and less as times goes on. My idea for the book is that people are going to miss that! We like violence. It fascinates us. That’s why it leads the news every night. “If it bleeds it leads.” So my idea is that policymakers someday will, perhaps without knowing it, encourage certain kinds of violence to keep people satisfied. Presidents like wars—even though they won’t admit it. Wars unify us. We always support the troops. So deliberate steps to encourage controlled violence is not so far-fetched. That’s in the book too.
5. What is the core focus of the book?
The centerpiece of the novel is those seven people with their idiosyncrasies, lust, belligerence, and desire to survive. How they are attracted to each other, how they fight with each other, how they sometimes undermine and then strengthen each other. One character—his name is Rudy—makes an especially dramatic sacrifice for the group, but so does the beautiful Maureen. It’s not a violent book, very little that’s too gruesome, but it is a book about the ideas surrounding violence.
About the Book
Welcome to the new world of reality TV. Viewing audiences have become totally desensitized to violence and entirely dependent on sensation to escape their boring workaday lives—an addiction nurtured by the media with graphic portrayals of war and crime and with so-called reality programming.
TV executives in pursuit of the only things they care about—higher ratings and bigger paychecks—have created the ultimate reality show: Seven people, each bearing the scars of his or her past, are deposited on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. Given some bare necessities and the promise of $400,000 each if they can endure, the three women and four men risk death by starvation or freezing as the Great Lakes winter approaches.
The island is wired for sound, and flying drones provide the video feed, so everything the contestants do and say is broadcast worldwide. Their seven-month ordeal is entirely unscripted, they can’t ask for help or they forfeit the prize, and as far as the network is concerned—the fewer survivors the better.
Price: $15.95 paperback, $9.99 ebook
Pages: 256 ISBN: 978-1-935448-11-2
Publisher: Lost Coast Press
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Buy Links: Cypress House, PhilHarveyLit.com
About the Author
Phil Harvey is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and libertarian who over the past 30 years has established large-scale programs that deliver subsidized contraception in poor countries. Harvey is the president of DKT International, the Washington, D.C.-based charity that implements family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention programs in 15 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He is the chief sponsor of the Liberty Project, which raises awareness about freedom of speech issues in the U.S. Harvey is also the president of Adam & Eve, the North Carolina–based company that sells sex toys, adult films, and condoms. Consequently he has been called "one of the most influential figures in the American sex industry today."
His fiction has appeared in fifteen literary magazines, including Phantasmagoria, which nominated one of his stories for a Pushcart Prize, and Antietam Review, which named another the winner of its annual contest. Most recently his work has appeared in The MacGuffin, Natural Bridge, and the Dos Passos Review.
Harvey’ nonfiction includes: Let Every Child Be Wanted: How Social Marketing is Revolutionizing Contraceptive Use Around the World (1999), which drew praise from former President Jimmy Carter; Government Creep, which, as one reviewer noted, “proves that government has invaded virtually every nook and cranny of our lives”; and The Government vs. Erotica, which Publishers Weekly and Booklist praised, the ALA Intellectual Freedom Roundtable nominated as the year’s best book on intellectual freedom, and Media Coalition called “a frightening, enlightening story.”
Phil Harvey lives with his wife, Harriet Lesser, in Cabin John, Maryland.
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