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Josie Silver on the inspiration behind One Night on the Island

Josie Silver on the inspiration behind One Night on the Island

Cleo, the main character in One Night on the Island, is a jaded dating columnist who is sent on assignment to a remote Irish island to marry herself. And yes, I’m aware how outlandish that sounds on first glance! The initial spark for the story came from an Emma Watson interview  with Vogue, where she referred to herself as ‘self-partnered’ rather than single. I thought about what that might actually mean, and I like the suggestion of replacing the negativity around being single with a happy sense of solo completeness.

For Cleo, self-partnering translates into stepping away from her life of ground-hog day disappointing dates lived out for the benefit of column inches. As soon as she reaches the cold, windswept shores of Salvation Island and takes a few lungs full of the clean, crystalline air, something inside her begins to shift. She’s heading towards a landmark birthday when she is unexpectedly handed this opportunity to re-evaluate, to spend time listening to the person she’s largely ignored for a fair while now – herself.

Like all best laid plans, Cleo’s intention to stay alone goes off the rails when she finds a grouchy American has already laid claim to her cosy cottage, and he turns out to be just the beginning of her problems. There’s a storm blowing in, only one bed, and no phone connection. Cleo’s first day on Salvation is a baptism of fire, and it sets the tone for the duration of her stay on the island. She finds herself continually tested, and what began as a woolly plan to marry herself for the sake of a good story strips her back and brings every aspect of her life into question, both personal and professional.

As I wrote about Cleo’s experience on Salvation Island, her self-partnering ceremony gathered momentum, both for Cleo as a character and for me as an author. What conclusions would I come to in her position? What vows would I make to myself, what promises would I whisper into the wind?  The idea of self-partnering evolved into a love letter to singledom, to self-acceptance and self-love, and to finding one hundred percent contentment alone.

Self-partnering might seem a little outlandish at first glance, but I reckon Emma Watson makes a valid point. Feeling genuinely complete, whole and individual as a human is a healthy mindset, regardless of your relationship status.

One Night on the Island is published by Penguin on 17 February 2022

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