Jeff Probst is a jack of all trades. From hosting ‘Survivor’, to his therapeutic tribal council sessions, and having his own talk show, he’s done it all! Recently, I had the honor of reading Jeff’s new book, “Stranded”, which is a children’s book about four kids stranded on an island. To read my full review of the book click here. I also had the opportunity to interview Jeff Probst, read the interview below as we discuss ‘Survivor’, “Stranded” and More!
Survivor in part is based on “Lord of the Flies” so how much of your book was influenced by “Lord of the Flies” and how much was based off of Survivor?
“It was my wife Lisa’s idea to do the book. The idea came from years of young kids stopping me to talk about Survivor. Their first or last question was almost always the same – “When will you do a Survivor for kids?” So we took the idea of four young kids being shipwrecked on a deserted island and then added the layer of blended family to create STRANDED. A young boy and girl whose mom marries a man who also has a boy and a girl. This new family of brothers and sisters end up alone on an island with no adults and are forced to work together to stay alive. In the process they get to know each other and their bonds pave the way for them to deal with the incredible adventures they will experience. We sold the idea in about 15 minutes to Penguin books and a 3 book series was hatched.”
The kids in “Stranded” were given just enough tools to survive, do you ever feel like survivors on the show are given too many survivor tools at reward challenges?
“I don’t think we give them too much. It’s very difficult for a person at home to actually experience what it feels like to be that depleted, that hungry, that tired. It’s overall exhaustion. The amount of calories they consume on a daily basis is very minimal.”
Ever thought of a season of Survivor where the contestants had to pick between what was most important for survival? Ex: Extra clothes or fint, tarp or fishing gear. To bring the contestants back to their survival roots like the kids in “Stranded” experienced?
“We toy with how much of this to include in each season. Ultimately Survivor is a social game. It’s about relationships more than actual Survival. So we tend to lean toward the side of decisions that involve how you interact with others.”
What made you want to write a children’s book as opposed to a young adult or adult book?
“Lisa and I have a nine year old boy and a seven year old girl so this seemed to be the sweet spot. Plus, I liked pushing the envelope and imagining what it would take for kids this age to really survive. Having written the books I now fully believe they could do it.”
Where did you come up with the name for their boat – The Lucky Star?
“That came from the co-writer Chris Tebbets! The minute he said it we loved it. It just felt right.”
Was it difficult to co-write the book as opposed to writing it yourself?
“It was a blast writing with Chris. He is a big Survivor fan so we were able to speak the same language. He also consulted with a few former Survivors as well as our psychologist and medical doctors. So everything is absolutely accurate. We also had Jen Bonnell from Penguin who was truly another writer. She had tremendous ideas and always kept us on the right path.”
The island the kids were on was described in a way that the reader feels like they are really there with the kids. Is it based off places you’ve been before?
“Yes and no. Chris and I talked a lot about the various places I’ve been and experiences I’ve had. We located it in the South Pacific but we ultimately created our own island. This gave us the freedom to create the exact layout. I love that you feel you are right there – that’s the goal!”
Besides this series, do you have any plans to write more books?
“We’ve been talking about some other ideas but nothing concrete yet. I’m still debating if we should keep the kids on the island and have their parents end up joining them in a somewhat failed rescue attempt. Then we could do another series ala “Swiss Family Robinson” where we have the whole family and they go exploring other islands and end up on another amazing adventure!”
Any sneak peaks you can give us on the next book?
“In Stranded: Trial By Fire the kids really get down to building their new world. Shelter becomes a big issue, fire, water and of course… preparing for a possible rescue! The drama is amped up even more in book 3 Stranded: Survivors!”
Speaking of the next book, when can readers expect it to come out?
“Stranded: Trial By Fire will be out in June. You can pre order it now!”