This week’s Beach Bar Bums focus is on J.D. Layne, author of “Bone Island Breakdown,” who I had the pleasure of meeting at our get together on Lido Key in Sarasota. I knew as soon as I started talking to J.D. that I was going to have to do a write-up on him and when he told me he had written a book, it was a no-brainer. When he agreed to opening up his deepest and darkest secrets to me, I was thrilled. OK, maybe that deep and dark but interesting nonetheless.
Obvious first question: How did a Midwestern boy from Missouri decide to write a book based in Key West?
“Basically I’ve always been enthralled with anything regarding the ocean even though I grew up and had always lived in landlocked Kansas City, MO. Then after a trip to the Caribbean in 1983, I fell hopelessly in love with the islands, the people and the beautiful blue/green sea and soon began spending all my time and effort in trying to figure out ways to get back down there on my next vacation.”
“I got my dive certification and started going to Jamaica every year in the late 80’s and met a couple who I became great friends with and they owned a bar in Key West, a place I had always wanted to visit because of my love for Jimmy Buffet (the guy I give full credit to changing my life’s philosophy.) They invited me to come see them and I soon began visiting them as often as I could in Key West (I accused them of having my dream life… They owned an outdoor bar on an island in the tropics, the bar happened to be almost directly across the street from Margaritaville and they lived on a houseboat – (what else could any true Beach bum want?). Well, during one visit in the mid 1990s, while they were at work one sunny, beautiful afternoon and I was left to my own devices on their boat (which included the margarita blender and a bottle of Cuervo) and sat and whiled away the afternoon with Jimmy playing on the stereo, I started daydreaming about the island I was starting to really know and love, it’s close proximity to Cuba (only a short 90 miles away), tropical intrigue etc, etc. Long story short, by the end of that boat-drink fueled day, I had the beginning of a book plot outlined in my head and a strange determination to write it.”
How was the process?
“Well it took a few years but I finally finished it which was all I really wanted to do when I started. For a few years it was just reams of paper crammed in a notebook that occasionally a friend would read and give me their thoughts on. I had quite a few people who did read it say I really needed to get it published, but to me that seemed like just a dream – to have something that I wrote actually published. I finally had one friend who wouldn’t take no for an answer and pushed me to get the ball rolling and “Bone Island Breakdown” was the finished product that came out in January of 2011.”
Any plans for another book?
“The whole experience was one I wouldn’t trade for anything and now the book is starting to really do well and that is very satisfying and rewarding. I am currently working on a second novel set in Jamaica, another of my favorite places and also where I met my wife Chris while on a beach in Negril and a few years later, proposed just off the coast 65ft underwater while scuba diving.”
I have to ask – any favorite beach bars?
“While KC will always have my heart, we have just recently moved to Venice FL and are really loving the beach life – and the Beach Bars! From what travels I have had over the years, I have had the good fortune to visit quite a few and have always loved a good beach bar (even if sometimes it’s not always on an actual beach) and this is why I love Beach Bar Bums – I love seeing those pics Tom puts out of great bars from all over the world and though I can’t really say I have just one favorite, I can imagine my butt sitting on a stool, doing some writing over a cold drink in nearly all of them. Keep up the great work Tom and keep giving all us Beach Bar Bums worthy destinations to travel to and enjoy.”
Thanks for your kind comments, J.D., and for sharing your love of the islands with us. Like countless others before you and since, the Caribbean cast her charm over you in 1983 and and I’m glad you had the gift to put that feeling down in words and share it with the rest of us. Like Hemingway once said: “I never had to choose a subject – my subject rather chose me.”
To buy the Kindle edition of “Bone Island Breakdown,” go to http://www.amazon.com/Bone-Island-Breakdown-ebook/dp/B004LGS5EC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366314728&sr=8-1&keywords=bone+island+breakdown#_ where you can get a free preview. It’s also available via iTunes.