Interview with Harry Duffin, author of Island of Dreams

Take a trip back in time with Harry Duffin’s historical family saga, Island of Dreams. Take a peek inside with an excerpt and then gain more insight with this author interview. Ask more questions in the comments section! And be sure to follow the tour for more after you download your copy.


In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future. But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them.
The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams.
And – among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow – a love that threatens the whole family.
Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.

Read an excerpt:

The ornate cemetery looked deserted, but he knew they were there. Invisible, deadly, concealed among the lavish tombs of Havana's famous and wealthy dead; crouching beside the weeping angels, the praying Madonna’s, the mock castles of granite and the towering black pyramid, last resting place of the city's most celebrated and scandalous lovers - they were there. Hiding behind those final monuments to vanity, cradling their weapons, believing she would take up the challenge. 
His heart thumped heavily inside the damp cotton shirt and linen jacket. Reaching inside, he felt the butt of the gun he had brought from Hans. He hadn’t fired a gun since he’d fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. It felt foolish to have one now, but he was prepared to give up his life to defend her.

She was brave and headstrong, and she would come, somehow. Freddie craved and feared it at the same time. ‘Craved’ – the word revealed his age as much as his feelings. Foolish old man, harbouring such dreams. Dreams he had promised himself she would never know. 

They were dreams she had given him. For he had none when the ship sailed into the harbour all those years ago. She had brought him her dreams, bright as that May morning, as innocent as he was corrupt...

Coming December 2022

Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.

She had brought her dreams, bright as that May morning, as innocent as he was corrupt.

What was the inspiration behind this book?

It was visiting Cuba with a fellow writer, where we came up with the premise of the book. We learnt of the S.S. St Louis, carrying over a thousand Jews escaping from Nazi Germany, hadn’t been allowed to land its passengers on the island. Only a handful were allowed to disembark and no one knew who they were or what happened to them. So, we invented the Mueller family, and followed their lives from 1939 to 1959, when Castro’s revolution defeated the corrupt regime of General Batista.  Sadly, my fellow writer died before we could work on it together, so the book is a memorial to her.

What kind of research did you have to do for it?

Reading many books about the island, and its history. And using the many articles on the internet about that period of time. The internet is a fabulous tool for writers. 

Which character was your favorite to write?

Hans, because he does terrible things. Villains are generally the best characters to write about.  

To which character did you relate the most?


What was one of your favorite scenes?

My favorite scene is one I can’t talk about, because the reader is not supposed to know that it is really a love story.

Will we see these characters again?


Which of your book worlds would you like to visit?

I would like to visit the world of my next book, LA MAY, which is set in Hollywood in the mid-1920’s. A fascinating place and time.

On what are you currently working?

I am writing the sequel to my first novel, CHICAGO MAY.

What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Omit needless words

What book and/or author changed your life?

Ernest Hemingway

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Probably give a large amount to fund digging wells in Africa, to help with climate change.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If you want to write, write. If not read a lot. Books are fascinating things.

Harry is an award-winning UK screenwriter, who won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial, while writing for Granada Television’s ‘CORONATION STREET’. Before that, in 1985, he was on the first writing team for the BBC’s ‘EASTENDERS’.  

Before beginning his career writing drama for television, Harry spent a dozen years working in British theatre, as stage manager, writer, designer and director, working with actors such as Nigel Hawthorne, Anne Reid and Lesley Manville. 

After script-editing the BBC’s HOWARDS’WAY, he freelanced for series like DISTRICT NURSE, THE BILL, BOON, THE BRETTS, EMMERDALE.  

In 1994 he became Head of Development at the UK independent company, Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment. As the script executive he was responsible for seven major television series, included ‘SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON’ starring RICHARD ‘JOHN BOY’ THOMAS, and ‘TWIST IN THE TALE’, featuring WILLIAM SHATNER. He also wrote the film, RETURN TO TREASURE ISLAND.

In 1998 he was the co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘THE TRIBE’, which ran for five series, numbering 260 episodes. ‘THE TRIBE’ has been sold world-wide, and all series is on YouTube.

His first novel, CHICAGO MAY, is the first book of a two-part series.  He has also written JAIL TALES, about his wife’s 20 year career in the prison service, and the novel BIRTH OF THE MALL RATS, the prequel to THE TRIBE.

He has just finished his third novel, ISLAND OF DREAMS, to be published on December 1st 2022.

Harry Duffin will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3 thoughts on “Interview with Harry Duffin, author of Island of Dreams”

  1. Thank you for sharing your interview, bio and book details, I have enjoyed reading about you and your work and I am looking forward to reading your story. Are you able to read or write when it is noisy or do you require peace and quiet or white noise as I do?

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