Yes, there really is a place as perfect as Maupiti, and yes, it really is a great place to fall in love. Read on here to find out what elements of Island Fantasies are truth and which are fiction!
THE INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY
Lucky me – I really have been to the most gorgeous island on earth: Maupiti, a little speck of a place just west of Bora Bora. It’s a place far, far off the beaten track – not just in miles! – and it’s just as perfect as it sounds. The people are warm and friendly, the view from the central peak as inspiring, and the anchorage just as full of colorful characters as I portray in the book. You really can bike around the island in an afternoon, and you really can snorkel with manta rays in the bay. So it didn’t take much to get to thinking about what kind of heroine would find herself in a place as remote as Maupiti and what kind of hero she would fall in love with.
The story was inspired by the real-life dilemma many travelers face: first, the desire for independence mixed with the desire for company, and second, going out on a limb to explore new places while missing the comforting feeling of the familiar. There’s also the problem of holding on to the magic of a special place when it’s time to go home. Since I’m a sucker for happy endings (who isn’t?), I wanted to make sure that my hero and heroine get to do just that, even though they have to work hard to earn that reward. I hope you agree that by the end of the story, Hannah and Kyle truly have earned their happily-ever-after!
You’ll probably note the theme of how much richer life is when you stop and smell the roses – ideally, with someone you love, and ideally, without the distraction of cell phones, email, and other means of communication. There’s a lesson in there for all of us, I think.
THE INSPIRATION FOR THE CHARACTERS
As in so many of my stories, the setting of Island Fantasies is entirely real while the characters are products of my imagination. And as is often the case with my heroines, you’ll find a lot of me in Hannah. I’ve done a lot of solo travel that was partially driven by a feeling of responsibility to live life to the fullest, knowing that a person I love never got that chance. So I know all about lonely sunsets and wistful glances out to sea. Hannah is a dreamer, a hard worker, and a woman more than capable of standing on her own two feet – my favorite kind of heroine!
While Hannah feels obliged to travel, Kyle feels obligated to the company he works for. What complicates things is that it’s a family company, and he’s devoted to making it successful on several levels. That makes his personal journey of letting go as challenging as Hannah’s. Up until the time he meets Hannah, Kyle is on a pretty standard career track. But she puts a few crazy ideas in his head, and before he knows it, he’s dreaming of sailing away.
It’s a tricky combination – wanting to run away from it all, but feeling obligated to family, too. I know it all too well, as I’m sure you do. Hannah and Kyle don’t realize it yet, but they might just be among the lucky few who get to have it all.
MY FAVORITE SCENE
I love the torchlit dinner on the beach that Tiri organizes for Hannah and Kyle and the perfect timing she has in bringing them back together after time apart. The waves are whispering over the beach, the sun is setting, the torches crackling – can’t you just taste romance in the air? I love the slow, unrushed feeling of that scene, with two people focused entirely on each other and the beauty of the world around them. And I love it when Hannah takes out her camera then puts it away without snapping a picture, because a photo couldn’t possibly capture it all. It’s a sentiment I’ve felt in many places and many special moments, far and near to home.
THE BIGGEST CHANGE FROM FIRST DRAFT TO LAST
While I took a long time tweaking little things in each scene, the plot and characters were consistent throughout the making of this story. From the very beginning, I had the manta ray snorkel scene planned in, as well as the skinny dipping scene and the torchlit dinner scene. In short, Island Fantasies had all its key elements from the get-go: a great hero and heroine, little adventure, a taste of the exotic, and a whole lot of romance!