Convict Island by Mark Mosley is centered on the life of 17-year-old Jhalon as he finds himself sent to a secret island.
My debut YA novel, Convict Island, is about a teenager named Jhalon (Jay-lun). As one of just sixty-one people on the planet with hyperthymesia, 17-year-old Jhalon never forgets anything. Literally. Give him any date, and he can recite his entire day to the smallest detail.
But all he wants to do is live in the moment, be the first person in his family to graduate high school, and find the courage to ask out the girl he’s always loved.
Then, after Jhalon confesses to a crime to save his brother, he is convicted as an adult. During his abuse in prison, he figures things can’t get any worse…until he’s sent to a secret island housing the country’s harshest criminals. Jhalon has no idea why he’s been sent, but when he makes enemies with the island dictator and uncovers a secret about the island that even the government doesn’t know about, he has to find allies among murderers if he wants to escape and get home.
Convict Island touches on the issue of the overflowing US prison system and the potential horror of what could happen if the centuries-old practice of unloading convicts on islands was reestablished.
I get asked a lot why I was “inspired” to write a book. The answer is pretty simple: my students. I’m a high school language arts teacher, and one year after we’d finished Lord of the Flies, I asked my class what they thought about it. Almost all of them said they were excited about the book and thought it had cool potential, but then it got boring. They liked the premise of a group of guys stuck on an island, trying to survive.
My inspiration is tightly woven with my target audience: reluctant teenage readers. While I’ve had many reviews and messages from adult readers who thought it was a fun and fast read, I wrote the book thinking of my male minority students who struggled finding books they enjoyed. With them in mind, I chose to have my main character be a person of color—who’s actually named after one of my students. With my most reluctant readers in mind, I wrote the story to be fast-paced, filled with dialogue, and riddled with allusions and humor.
The future for Convict Island includes a sequel I’m currently working on. When I started writing Convict Island, I’d intended it to be a stand-alone novel. But as I wrote, it morphed into something I hadn’t expected, and the ending certainly sets it up for a second book. I’m now planning for a duology, though I could envision writing spinoffs about other characters. I also have two other books (one stand-alone and one that’s the first book of a series) completed and being edited that I look forward to publishing.
As I mentioned, I’m a teacher, but I wear many hats: a Christian that does his best to live like Christ, a husband with a wonderful wife named Christine, a father to four young children I love more than anything (Josette, Norah, Everett, Sullivan), a head coach of a softball program full of young women I’m blessed to work with, and a self-proclaimed nerd obsessed with reading, Marvel, Star Wars, and old video games.
You can find out more about me and Convict Island at my website or follow me on Twitter @MarkGMosley. I want to end with a huge THANK YOU! to Authors’ Lounge for the opportunity to share information about my book and myself!