|The Book Loft|
The island in Camino Island by John Grisham is patterned after Amelia Island and its town of Fernandina Beach just north of Jacksonville, Florida.
The Fernandina Observer has an interesting review of the book as it relates to Amelia Island. They were unable to get a direct answer from the publisher on why Grisham used a fake name rather than using the real name of the island.
Janet Maslin in her profile of Grisham in the New York Times provided an explanation of the origins of the book and the title:
Grisham and his wife, Renee, dreamed up the idea for “Camino Island on a drive from their home outside Charlottesville, Va., to their beach house in Florida. Its working title was the name of the place where they have a vacation home, but he eventually changed it for reasons of privacy. Its cover still looks like the view from Grisham’s boardwalk to the beach.
That house is on the real life Amelia Island.
The focus of the story is Bay Books, a charming and very successful bookstore, owned by a charming and handsome rogue, Bruce Cable, who is nattily attired in seersucker suits and bowties.
The Observer’s review notes that:
Like the Book Loft at 214 Center Street, Cable’s Bay Books features comfortable chairs, cozy nooks, and author signings, but there are very real differences, according to Book Loft owner Sue Nelson. First of all, there’s no basement – where the fictional owner stores rare books and manuscripts.
“I’d have to dig one,” said Ms. Nelson. “Nobody has a basement in Florida.”
The column notes the similarity between Cable’s fictional home in Camino Island and the real life Fairbanks House. It appears the actual house, in the Italianate style lacks the tower bedroom where Cable takes visiting female authors.
Late in the book there is reference to the Surf restaurant, “a popular outdoor bar and grill”. The columns states the real life Surf’s Marketing and Events Manager was not aware of whether Grisham had visited the restaurant.
With regard to first editions Grisham said in an interview with NPR:
Well, my publisher Doubleday sends me the first book off the press. Or at least they claim it’s the first book off the press. I have no way of knowing. But it comes with a very nice note from my publisher. And we take that book at a little ceremony and we go to a certain place, a certain bookshelf in the library and add it to the collection. So we have a row of – two rows, now – of all of our first ones off the press. And that’s where I keep my first editions.
Later in the interview he advises he has been collecting “modern first editions” for 25 years and has “a nice little collection”. He says those first editions have been “very good investments”.
On Grisham’s website is a podcast of him on book tour at Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was his first book tour in 25 years.
An early supporter of his books was Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi and that store was part of the tour. Grisham demonstrates his connection with Square Books by signing 2,000 copies of each of his books for the store.
I regret that I was not looking at books to be published during my Florida trip in April for I was in Jacksonville and could have made a trip to Amelia Island. “Sigh”.