Longtime Little Cayman resident Tim Jackson’s second novel, “Blacktip Island,” is already gaining praise for is humorous portrayal of life on a fictional Caribbean island.
The plot centers on the adventures of Blake Calloway, who is on the run after inadvertently embezzling a half-million dollars. Hoping to lie low, he changes his name and takes a job as a divemaster on a small island full of quirky characters, with comical results.
“If Margaritaville and ‘Northern Exposure’ had a love child, they’d call it Blacktip Island,” Jackson said.
“The land mass is fictional, but the people and happenings are spot-on for anyone who has spent time on a small island.”
According to a press release, the San Francisco Book Review says, “‘Blacktip Island’ will make you laugh and keep you guessing.” The Portland Book Review calls the novel, “fun and funny, its characters vivid. Take your time and dive into this adventurous story,” and IndieReader said, “Jackson has a strong voice that makes for an entertaining read from beginning to end.”
Mr. Jackson’s first novel, “Mangrove Underground,” was a USA Book News Book of the Year award finalist for literary fiction. His short stories have been published in numerous literary journals, including The Caribbean Writer.
“I have lived on Little Cayman since 1999, working as a scuba instructor and boat captain at Conch Club Divers, and writing fiction in the evenings and in my spare time,” he said.
“Prior to my time on Little Cayman, I worked as a journalist in Florida before returning to academia to earn a master of arts in English from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.”
He says that Little Cayman has proved to be an ideal place to pursue his interest in writing.
“Little Cayman is bustling now compared to when I first arrived 17 years ago, but it’s still a pretty quiet place,” he said.
“That’s one of the things that drew me here – that lack of distraction gives me time to write. Generally, I’m on the dive boat during the day, doing physical work, then I have the evenings free to write. Little Cayman may seem like a sleepy backwater to some people, but it has a unique energy that makes it a great place for creative work.”
He says that being a writer in a small community means that he has had to be very careful to rely on his imagination for inspiration.
“The fictional Blacktip Island, while inspired by life on the Sister Islands, is not meant to be Little Cayman (though I did use a greatly exaggerated version of the ever-rumored new LC airport for comic effect),” said Mr. Jackson.
“I also went out of my way to make sure none of the characters are people who live, or lived, here. Little Cayman is far too small for anything like that, and everyone knows where I live,” he joked.
“The characters are definitely small island personality types, though, types you can find on small islands anywhere in the world. I was in the British Virgin Islands last year, describing to a friend what my work-in-progress novel was about, and he said, ‘Oh, that sounds just like Virgin Gorda!’”
Mr. Jackson says he has noticed how small islands tend to attract, or in some cases create, some quirky personalities.
“That’s what makes living here so great,” he said.
“I tried to capture that spirit by creating some offbeat characters, putting them together and writing down what happened next. I didn’t know how ‘Blacktip Island’ was going to end until I typed the last sentence.”
‘Blacktip Island,’ released by Devonshire House Press is available in Grand Cayman bookstores, at the Little Cayman National Trust House and Little Cayman resorts, and at online booksellers in hardbound, paperback and ebook editions.