Thursday, November 20, 2008

From the Archives: My Island, New Paya



I've had a fascination with people getting shipwrecked on tropical islands almost as long as I can remember. I blame it on the animated version of Gilligan's Island that I used to watch on Saturday mornings. When I was 10, I began writing a series of stories about the adventures of Miriam, whose family was stranded on an island for 3 years on 2 different islands after their cruise ship exploded and sank in the middle of the ocean. Miriam was stranded on an island with her father. And incidentally, Miriam lives in the same parallel universe as Roxy. I named my character Miriam because as a little girl in Sunday School, I liked the Old Testament story of Miriam and Moses. Perhaps because I am an older sister of a younger brother I could relate to her. Somehow she manages to be a good big sister while still getting rid of her little brother. (Chris, if you're reading this, you know I'm just joking, right?)

By 1992, I had stopped writing about Miriam, but I decided to try out my new style of drawing by doing a few illustrations of her. So the result is the faint, insecure rendering drawn by the hands of a self-conscious 13 year old. It's an unfortunate phase many young artists go through. I was so afraid of making a mistake that I drew very lightly so I could erase it more easily. I had to enhance the contrast just to make it viewable on the computer.


Miriam saved the cute little baby bird in the picture, in addition to an orphaned fox. She and her father built a beautiful stone cottage with a thatched roof, which you can see in the background.

By 1999, I was in college and taking fiction writing classes. I returned to my old story and re-tooled it as a Young Adult novel entitled "My Island, Nueva Playa." (Not sure if the syntax of the Spanish in the title is correct.) Miriam was now Rima, a biracial 16 year old who did not want to be rescued from the island because she felt like it was the only place where she truly belonged. I stole the name Rima from a character in the novel Green Mansions. And I was still learning how to create digital illustrations on the computer. This one uses a girl from a Delia's catalog and a stock photo of an island. The novel is still unfinished, but you can read an excerpt from it over at my other blog, Tragedienne.

Watching Gilligan on Saturday mornings proved to be a source of inspiration for me. And the Gilligan's Island cartoon was the gateway drug that led to me watching the Gilligan's Island live-action series from the 60's, which led to repeated readings of Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Lord of the Flies, and my current obsession with the TV series Lost.

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