The official New Island Guidebook and the travel map are now complete. This is the culmination of twenty years of drawing maps, painting landscapes of the island, creating coins, stamps, a flag, and other documentation, as well as writing the island's story.
I've enjoyed every minute of it.
Now that New Island exists, things can happen here! Real people are experiencing New Island by building dream getaways on the island. In recent months I've been writing about a guy named Alan goes there on a job assignment. Here is a recap of his story so far:
Late one recent spring, in Michigan City, Indiana, Alan Faramond gets a letter from one Margaret Mullen, Head of the Tourism Office on an island in the Indian Ocean.
Alan's life has been flat lately: He quit his middle-school teaching job mostly due to his own lack of energy for it. His marriage (no children) ended a few years before, his ex-wife having moved on and sold him their house. He grew up in Southern California, and only moved to Indiana after college because the Midwest seemed more "sane" and because of better teaching job prospects.
Alan really loves to draw, and has been spending his days working from some vivid dreams he has had recently. His production has not been paying the bills, however, and his girlfriend Michelle is getting fed up with his apparent refusal to deal with the real world. Also, his old Saturn station wagon fell apart, and his house is about to be foreclosed upon.
It was one of these dream-drawings that found it's way to Ms. Mullen. (See how this happened on the "About Alan Faramond" page.)
Ms. Mullen is offering him a job depicting the scenery of the recently independent nation now known as The Commonwealth of New Island. (Photography is restricted there - a long story explained in the guidebook!) It appears that she acquired an extremely accurate drawing he did of her house and surroundings a few years back. She saw his name on the back of it and tracked him down.
At first, Alan scoffs at this hard-to-believe job offer, thinks it's a ruse, but a tiny voice tells him it might be real. He writes back to accept Ms. Mullen's offer, just to see if the offer is genuine. Two weeks later, he receives travel instructions, tickets for several flights and a boat trip, hotel vouchers for the journey, and a departure date! He is stunned.
Michelle looks over the letter and the tickets, and agrees that the offer seems legitimate. She knows that Alan isn't getting anywhere here, and she also realizes their relationship has more or less stalled, so she gives him her blessing to go.
Soon Alan boards a South Shore commuter train to Chicago, and begins his long journey to New Island via Western Australia. In the port town of Fremantle, he unknowingly enters another world of existence when he walks through the doors of the Rudyard Shipping Co. ticket office...
|If you are meant to get to New Island, you'll see these words on this building in Fremantle, WA.|
You'll then be able to step inside to the ticket office, and board the ship to Victoria Harbor. (Episode 5)
Alan never questions his situation very closely. Upon arrival on the island, he receives his List of Assigned Pictures from Margaret Mullen at her office in the Ministry of Trade building, on Government Hill. He is then given a railway pass, a cash stipend for supplies and food, and more instructions to his base lodgings near the town of Hazel, on Putney Bay. From there he almost immediately begins his series of trips around New Island to complete his assignment of 105 hand-painted drawings and watercolors of the island's most scenic places. He has completed five so far, and constantly worries about getting all of them done on time, or at all! Many of the places are far-flung and can be reached only on foot. He's glad he likes to walk!
To get to his first locations, he must hike the Southwestern Path, and has met some helpful locals to keep him on course. In recent episodes, he has also met a fellow traveler, Chloe, who is just beginning her Long Walk, a cultural rite-of-passage on the island.
I have no idea yet how this story will end. If you feel you want to share any suggestions or have questions, please use the comment box at the bottom. I'd love to hear from you.