Donna Ward’s Alias Island has recently been picked up for a TV series. We congratulate Donna, who tells us more about her book and experience below!
Alias Island is a character-driven mystery novel that takes place in a fictitious southeast retirement community. Here, in an attempt to stay within the Witness Protection Program budget, several individuals with assumed identities and reconstructed lives have been thrown together with strict instructions not to reveal their mostly unsavory pasts to anyone.
But of course they find each other, one way or another. And it turns out that one of these aliases feels the need to cull this herd in order to keep a New York mob family Capo – who he testified against – from finding him. With interference from the local sheriff and a couple of clueless locals and retirees, it would be amazing if Special Agent Mark Oberlin, who is assigned as caretaker for this group, can keep them away from each other, and therefore alive. It would be fair to say that he is only somewhat successful.
I have always loved a good mystery/crime novel, beginning with Agatha Christie. As a life-long freelance writer, I decided to tackle the genre. One of the first things I did was join the New York City chapter of Mystery Writers of America, where I was an active member for several years. We all know that good fiction should seem real, and my friendship with several Special Agents in the FBI enabled me to learn as much as possible about their organized crime squads, the history of WITSEC (witness protection program) and important procedural details. This was in the late 1990’s, when iUniverse was pioneering the digital publishing age. It took me two years to write Alias Island, and about a month to publish it with iUniverse, in 2000.
It sold a few copies and I didn’t give it too much thought. I had enjoyed the process, but I became busy with business and other types of writing that actually paid! Still, I was hooked on my FBI character, Mark Oberlin. In my spare time I wrote a prequel and a sequel to Alias Island, then saved them to my hard drive. Sixteen years later, this June, I received a call from Caroline Weiss at Author Solutions – parent of iUniverse – that John Sacchi and Matt Groesch two producers, originally attached to Lionsgate – were interested in developing Alias Island for a TV series. We signed a contract two weeks later, and I’ve been polishing up my prequel and sequel, because – who knows!
iUniverse and Author Solutions provided support and visibility for my past work, when I wasn’t even paying attention.
This experience has renewed my faith in following a passion even when the commercial outcome is unknown. I’ve always believed that writers, musicians, artists of every type, must follow their dreams. I don’t know if Alias Island will ultimately become a TV series, but my development deal sixteen years after publication should inspire fiction writers to keep doing what they love.
Congratulations once again to Donna! We look forward to watching the show!