Jeff Probst Interview: Stranded 2: Trial By Fire

Jeff Probst, Emmy-award winning host of Survivor and New York Times bestselling author  is back with an exciting new entry in the STRANDED series: TRIAL BY FIRE!

My name is “Miss M” and I’m nine. The highlight of my summer has been getting to interview Jeff Probst about his new book.

stranded 2 Trial by Fire Jeff Probst

I hope you enjoy my question and answer session with Jeff Probst.

#1: Do your wife’s kids call you “Dad” or refer to you as their “step” dad?

DAD!  All the way! It was very fun to watch it slowly evolve over time.  It’s clear now looking back that they wanted to call me Dad and weren’t sure how best to do it.  For a while it was “Jeff Dad 2” which suited me just fine.  But everything changed when we got married.  The wedding was in our backyard and they were a part of the ceremony.  The moment our friends announced us as married, Michael looked up at me and said, “I love you, Dad.”  It’s been “Dad” from there on out and it is the greatest feeling in the world!

#2: Are the siblings in your book based off of real Survivor contestants? if so, can you tell me who?

They are not based on any single individuals from the game – more on archetypes.  For instance, Cochran represents the fish out of water and so we looked at him for Buzz.  But Buzz isn’t based on Cochran.  We also took traits from kids we knew and infused them into the characters.  The result is hopefully four kids who represent archetypes –  leader, fish out of water, the jock, the smart one – but are their own people trying to survive in this crazy adventure.

#3: I heard you keep the tool that puts the torch out on Survivor from each season; what does your book’s family have as their tradition? Is it something the kids did before they became a blended family, or something you started as a new family?

Yes I keep the “snuffers” from each season.  I now have 26 and am currently using 27 as we are filming Survivor right now.  The kids in the Stranded family are pretty new – they’re just starting their traditions.  I think you bring up a great point for books 4, 5 and 6.  We can begin to see their traditions grow as they spend more time together.  Great idea!  We have lots of traditions in our real family – Ava and I dance together most nights after dinner.  We watch Shark Tank and all negotiate with each other about the ideas we see and whether we believe in them enough to invest our own money.  We do “gross food eating” challenges when our cousins visit – where all the kids put Survivor buffs over their eyes and have to eat whatever I put in their hands.    Lots of fun traditions!

#4: Since some of the scenarios in your book are based from Survivor challenges, what is your all time favorite Survivor Challenge and why? 

 Ah that’s a great question.  I don’t know if I have a specific one that stands out from the rest.  I tend to love the individual challenge we do after we merge the tribes into one group.  Those fascinate me because they are often based on sheer will power or desire to win.  Challenges where people have to hold onto a pole, or stand with their hand in the air and a bucket of water over their head.  I like it when the pain comes and you have to fight through it because when it is over you have proven to yourself you are capable of more than you imagined.  That’s one of the key points of Stranded – you are capable of so much more than you know.

#5: What is the one personality trait all Survivor contestants have in common and did you make this a strength or weakness in your book?

Well let me qualify that – the one common trait that successful Survivor contestants have is a belief in themselves.  You have to believe you can do “it” or it won’t happen.  I see it all the time on this show.  People how give up on themselves and are quickly voted out.  Survivor gives you the opportunity early on to prove to yourself that you can withstand the punishment that is coming – and if you don’t stand up and say “I’m ready for this, then you are done.”  The kids in the book all learn – often the hard way- that they can do “it”.   They can withstand being STRANDED on an island alone.  It doesn’t mean you will always be successful.  You can still fall short as nobody is perfect – but you never get to the end without believing you can.

Thanks for the interview!