Spring 2014 Book Festival: Phoenix Island

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Spring 2014 Book Festival: Phoenix Island

Today I share the next author interview and giveaway in the current Backdoor Survival Spring 2014 Book Festival. This week Mark Shepard, the editor of Charlotte Paul’s Phoenix Island, is on board to tell us about the book, it’s re-launch in 2014, and about himself.

You might be interested in learning that the author (when she was living) as well as Mark and myself, reside in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. That is where the story unfolds. As Mark will tell you, this is a story of survival that follows a tsunami and tidal wave right in our own back yard. Yes, it could really happen!

Enjoy the interview and be sure to check out the details of this week’s book giveaway below.

Phoenix Island BDS

An Interview with Mark Shepard

Tell me about your book, Phoenix Island. What is it about?

First of all, I need to explain that it’s not “my book” in the sense that’s normally meant. Phoenix Island is a million-copy bestseller from the 1970s, written by popular author Charlotte Paul, but it was never sold in anything but a cheap paperback edition.

I discovered it when I moved to the San Juan Islands, because that was Charlotte’s home when she wrote it, and that’s what she used as a model for the book’s locale. I believed the book deserved not only a revival but a more classy treatment than it had originally received. So, with the permission of Charlotte’s heirs, I set out to publish a 35th Anniversary Edition.

It’s simple enough to describe the basic plot: Nine people survive a tsunami on a remote island, find themselves completely cut off from the mainland, and are forced to survive on their own. To classify the book is a bit harder. It blends elements of survival story, technothriller, romance novel, and — what interested me most — utopian novel! The skills the Phoenix Islanders need to develop go far beyond the physical. They have to learn to live together and govern themselves — and also to see each of their own lives, with all their desires and needs, in a new light.

Gaye’s Note: Keep in mind this was written almost thirty years before the advent of reality TV!

The book was really the ultimate statement of an amazing woman who had lived several lives — dancer, journalist, back-to-the-lander, mother, small-town newspaper publisher, government staffer (in the correctional system!), freelance author — and had the breadth of vision to present a bold critique of society, showing us what might be attained if that society no longer lulled us with its comforts and artifices.

What did it take to edit the book for this new edition?

It was quite an effort, partly just because it is a Very Long Book.

First of all, there was no digital copy, so it had to be scanned and converted from the pages of the cheap paperback, with all the manual correction that entailed. Beyond that, though, I became convinced that the original paperback publisher had done hardly any editing and had probably pulled it from Charlotte’s hands before she finished polishing it herself. So, it really needed editing on many levels — to the extent I could do it respectfully without having the author to consult — and it wound up taking much more effort than I’d expected.

That was compounded by the wide scope of Charlotte’s subject matter and references. I found myself checking on everything from Broadway shows of the mid-1900s to traditional Dutch cooking pots — with stops at nuclear fusion, identification of poisonous mushrooms, and part names for Native American spears. The breadth of information she poured onto the pages was amazing.

Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading Phoenix Island?

I think everyone will get their own message from this book.

To me, the most important one was that even the worst of us can be redeemed and enfolded in a strong community. Charlotte’s survivors included one very bad apple, but she refused to give up even on him. In the end, he is saved from himself, and the entire community grows and becomes stronger in the process.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

Oh, that’s the hard part. Well, like Charlotte, I have a history of writing about social alternatives and simple living — in fact, followers of your blog may know me as the author of Simple Sourdough, which you’ve been so kind to promote.

Beyond that, I’ve had about as many careers as Charlotte. Currently my wife and I are living off our small publishing operation, Shepard Publications, putting out books we write ourselves. Phoenix Island is its first (and probably last) attempt to publish someone else’s work!

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

I’d like to invite them to visit the Web site I set up for this book — actually, for Islander Press, the imprint I created for it. The site includes a number of extra materials about Charlotte and her books, including some materials I included in the paperback but left out of the eBook. You’ll find it at www.islanderpress.com.

The Book Giveaway

A print copy of Phoenix Island has been reserved for one lucky reader. Here is today’s giveaway question:

In your best estimation, if faced with an immediate evacuation, how long would it take you to gather your bug-out preps and go?

To enter the giveaway, you need to answer this question by responding in the comments area at the end of this article. The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific next Thursday with the winner notified by email and announced in the Sunday Survival Buzz. You will have 48 hours to claim the winning book.

The Final Word

As you know, I read a lot of books and that takes a lot of time. That said, Phoenix Island is up next on my personal reading list and I am excited to see it bubble to the top. Although billed as a thriller, I was enchanted by the first paragraph of the Prologue. I am so looking forward to digging in!

As with all of the books in the Backdoor Survival Book Festivals, I hope you will enter the giveaway to win your own copy of this fabulous classic!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Thank you for voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites! Plus, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Spotlight Item: Phoenix Island: A Tale of Disaster, Survival, and Rebirth

ONE LONELY ISLAND, ONE TIDAL WAVE, NINE SURVIVORS. A tsunami is one of the last things Dr. Andrew Held expects while entertaining guests on Phoenix Island, the tiny, isolated outpost of Washington State he has made his private home. But when a French nuclear bomb test in the South Pacific goes awry, the ensuing tidal wave destroys his island estate and severs all ties to the mainland.

The survivors are nine with little in common and histories setting them far apart, yet each with unique, unexpected strengths, virtues, and talents. As hopes of quick rescue dim, their only chance of survival is to bridge their differences, transcend their conflicts, and learn to live in harmony with each other — and in some cases, with themselves.

Bargain Bin: Today is all about books. Listed below are all of the books in the current Backdoor Survival Book Festival. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and a bit of something for everyone.

If you covet an e-Book reader, consider the Kindle. And if not, at the very least pick up the free Kindle app so that you can read Kindle books on your PC or favorite electronic device.

Spring 2014 Book Festival #5 – Fiction
Brushfire Plague: Reckoning
Through Many Fires: Strengthen What Remains
Flight of the Bowyer
The Jakarta Pandemic
The Perseid Collapse
Leaving The Trees
Fury of the Fifth Angel
Fugitives from Northwoods
Phoenix Island: A Tale of Disaster, Survival, and Rebirth

Spring 2014 Book Festival #5 – Non-Fiction
The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness: Life-Saving Skills, Supplies, Tactics and Plans
Simply Canning: Survival Guide to Safe Home Canning
The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster
The Prepper’s Cookbook: 365 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals
Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure: A Prepper’s Book for Kids
The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months


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No list of books would be complete without my own e-book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage.

The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage is a book about food: What to store, how to store it and best practices. It is a roadmap for showing ordinary citizens that long-term food storage is not something that will overwhelm or burden the family budget. It is based on my own tried and true experience as someone who has learned to live the preparedness lifestyle by approaching emergency preparedness and planning in a systematic, step-by-step manner.

Whether you simply want to prepare for natural disasters or whether you believe the world is headed toward a major food crisis, this book is for you. It covers basic tips and techniques you can use to stock your food storage pantry so that you can be assured that your family will have food to eat, no matter what.

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54 Responses to “Spring 2014 Book Festival: Phoenix Island”

  1. Less then 30 minutes for my dog and I to bug out. Grab the chargers, my pack, 2 5 gallon water bottles, cash stash, guns, food from pantry shelves, dog food, leash, harness, bath stuff and do final download to my personal cloud. gone.

  2. 15 to 20 minutes, normally. But if in immediate threat, right now. We have basic survival items at each door and in the each car.

  3. At the urging of some red head, I have my BOB packed and ready. Grab it and go.
    I thought this book sounded familiar, so I checked my Kindle books. I have it but have not read it yet. It will go to the top of my reading list.

  4. 10 min, bug out bags already packed , getting dog on leash, tent , solar battery w/2 small panels & water & set to go ( hopefully).

  5. This is one area in which I am sadly deficient. I am not prepared to bug out at all. I can imagine it taking me at least an hour, if I wanted anything more than the single backpacks with the absolute bare necessities. So this is my wake-up call….next item on my to-do list!

  6. 15 to 20 minutes tops. We have our go bags ready and also have bags in each vehicle and at our place of business. And there would definitely be a bathroom break before heading out!

  7. About 10 minutes. Just long enough to grab the furfaces’ BOBs, leash them up and go. Everything else stays packed in the car.

  8. Bugging out is not something I am prepared to do. So my guess is between 30 min to 1 hour. I know this is not good enough, but like some of the other comments listed, I have always planned to bug in.

  9. I already keep two bug out boxes in our car trunk. Because of health reasons, we would be unable to walk far, however our bug out bags are by the doors, so it would be 5 minutes at the most!

  10. Wow, one of My worst nightmares, bugging out with my 86 year old mother, getting stuck in a grid lock and her needing to use the bathroom. (Anxiety attack) I need to get around this. I think it could take a bit of time to get us out the door.

  11. I love the part about going to the bathroom first, that would happen at my house too. I also have a husband, daughter, 3 dogs(that I would never leave) and my in-laws live in a little grannie unit right next to our house. Getting my mother in law moving would be a problem. I have a bug out trunk, and bags, weapons, and the dog food on wheels to get into the truck.( Can’t leave food in the car/truck as its too hot here) I’m gonna say 20 to 30 minutes. I have several containers of water as well. All said, I’d rather stay here and bug in, but can definitely bug out if needed.

  12. I used to be able to say we could do it in 30 minutes…now with two small children added to our household and a husband who has recently started home dialysis…I really don’t know how we’d handle it right now.

  13. If I have time, my Bag and the cat’s Bag is ready [yes, my cat has his own BoB]. He goes in his carrier which is on a handtruck, my laptop goes on top of his carrier and his bag on top of the laptop. All are lashed tight and with my bag on my back out the door we go. 5-10 minutes – maybe less.

    If I have a bit more time, the food buckets and such go in the car along with the extended BoBs. That takes me up to 15 – 20 minutes. This is a guess. I haven’t done a drill in a bit.

  14. NONE!!! I have NO plan to “bug out”. I have no place to “bug out” to. I am prepared to defend my present location against all comers.

  15. 10 to 20 minutes, but I probably would miss some key items. I’d like to get some stuff pre-staged in Rubbermaid bins that will be ready at all times.

  16. Well, considering that we have too many mammals & fowl to take with us, we’ve really not considered evacuating. Our rural location really isn’t some place you’d think about that for…unless we were in a drought and there was a fire, I can’t see that happening, but I suppose I really should get some BOBs put together anyway. That being sai, right now it’d take hours to pull things together. 🙁

  17. Depends on what time of the year this occurs. Bug out bag has most of the essentials, but the type of clothing & how much of each item depends on the weather at the time. Marauders – just grab & go.

  18. 15 min. I have my BOB packed and ready to go at all times. I go barefooted a lot, the most time would be to get shoes and socks on.

  19. Being disabled and no longer able to drive I’d have to wait until my wife got home from wherever she has gone before going anywhere. Otherwise I will be bugging in, period.

  20. If it is just my husband and myself, simply grab the bag and go. However, I frequently babysit my grandsons. I would need a few minutes to round up their things, say maybe 15 minutes.

  21. Wake up call for sure….probably up to an hour, but I DO keep my ‘Burb ready to go with a usually full tank of gas. I too, need to get our backpacks prepped! We are kind of rural, so the plan is for other family members to gather here if unable to relocate over the mountains at our ‘spot’. Thanks for all your work you do! 🙂

  22. it would not take me long..rest of family(that don’t prep) a little longer…wonder if i should wait?

  23. 25-30min, maybe less if all hand were home at the time to help. If we had to gather up and meet at home first could take longer.

  24. If I really had to leave, I think 30 minutes would give me time to gets the necessities.

    BTW, I read a Kindle version of Phoenix Island several months ago & loved it! It is much different from the current crop of survival fiction, probably because the genre didnt really exist then. At least I don’t think it did.

  25. I am mortified by all the efficient preppers out there. If it were a haz-mat situation, I could make it in 5 -10 minutes. Anything else would take me a minimum of an hour. I need to do some serious organization and think through that which I consider vital to life. In addition, there are a few items that I could not bare to leave behind if returning wasn’t possible. My family had to plan to evacuate in the 80’s from Haiti during a potentially explosive regime change. We had to have one bag with everyone’s things in it. Were also told to pack An additional bag for each of us. They were by the door. It was unlikely that anything would be left if we were able to return. Praise God, the situation was grave but we were able to fly out commercially with considerably more luggage. When my husband was able to return, most things were still there. While this wasn’t a bug-out situation it sure did make think about what was important to me materially. I was very thankful we didn’t have to factor in “keep-alive” items.

  26. in case of house fire or very local calamity, 30 seconds, have purse, bag, leashes, etc in my bedroom…..otherwise, I plan on bugging in for most scenarios….but if I HAD to leave, and had time….I’d take about 30 minutes to load up food and water, and turn off utilities…

  27. I so wish I could say 10 minutes, but sadly I can not. I have a lot of preps. Unfortunately, they are scattered around our place. I really need to gather at least the most important things together, so I could just grab and go. I think my main reason for not doing so is that under most circumstances, I know we would stay put. But any number of things, like fire, could drive us out. My goal this week is going to be to gather and stow what I need in our bobs. Thanks for reminding me how important this is.

  28. Anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on how fast I could get my wife to decide what she really needs.

  29. 30-60 minutes, mostly depending on getting the dogs ready. 20 minutes just for us folks 🙂

  30. Let’s see, I have a disability, two dogs, three cats, and the missus isn’t home yet, doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere.

  31. A lot would depend upon the situation. Grabbing the bug out bags plus some primary essentials – 10 minutes. If not such a need for speed, we would probably put as much as we could in the car (if able to leave by car), which we could do in 30 minutes.

  32. Plan to shelter in place, but if I had to leave, about 30 mins with the cat, too long…………

  33. If it was just me, maybe 15 minutes, but have 4 cats and a husband who is NOT prepared. He thinks it’s a waste of time – so if the SHTF, he would have nothing prepared. I could do it for him, but I think he’s a big boy, and should do it on his own.

  34. I would aim towards one hour, getting my family organised and moving, unless the situation was really horrendous!

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