The seas are changing, as waters warm and currents shift. It’s an environment author Michael Mazza knows well, having followed his son’s surfing career, and it became the vision for his first novel, That Crazy Perfect Someday. Set in the not-too-distant future, Mazza’s characters face increasingly flat seas and sharks, as well as personal struggles while caught up in the world of competitive surfing. Mazza shared his insights on the oceans, the surf, and the planet with Nexus Media. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Why is a book about the relationship between a top surfer and her dad getting caught up in a topic like climate change?
We’re all living with climate change. And by the look of recent events, we won’t be putting the brakes on it anytime soon. My story takes place in the year 2024. Climate change creates an underlying tension throughout, especially for the main character, Mafuri Long, a world-class surfer and marine biologist. The waves in San Diego, her home city, are flat most days as a consequence of warming temperatures. It is a serious dilemma for her as she trains for the Olympics.
Anyone who understands a surfer’s psyche knows that flat waves — for an extended period — will fray nerves. The terrible conditions fuel Mafuri’s anxiety, which in turn, exacerbates her rocky relationship with her father. The warming planet also sets the tone for the chapters set in Australia, a beneficiary of the weather shift, with weekly rainbows and regular epic waves. With shifting wave patterns, training in Australia is Mafuri’s best alternative. The geographical distance, however, produces even more trepidation as she worries about her father’s erratic behavior and her ability to care for him from so far way.
The story also references an increasing number of superstorms and tornados that take out half the Las Vegas strip. The hole in the ozone over Antarctica is still a looming presence, rising tides swallow islands forcing refugees to flee, and world strife such as war and riots continue unabated.
It all feeds a chain reaction on a global scale that funnels down and affects the behavior of two individuals.
Shark attacks come up as an impact of warming waters, a threat that clearly resonates with surfers. What inspired you to tie that to climate?
Experts agree that warming waters are driving sharks and other marine species to parts of the ocean outside their normal range. The warm water also attracts more swimmers and surfers. Put the two together and risk for attack increases. Mafuri has a Marine Biology degree, so she understands the equation and what it means for her as a surfer.
In the novel, what do you predict as changes in technology and social media for 2024?
In the book, technology is evident in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Cars drive themselves, surgery is performed remotely, holograms are in wide use, robots take on menial household tasks, and chips are hacked under human skin to read vitals. Typical TV resolution is 8k. Drones monitor the sky and deliver packages.
My best guess is that we will sail smoothly into 2024 with many incremental changes brought about by AI and Machine Learning, rather than gigantic leaps in consumer tech that we saw in the last fifteen years.
On the social front, offerings become more fragmented, catering more and more to specific interests. Also, people shift brands: Facebook begins its decline, and many experience Social Media fatigue, favoring face-to-face relationships over digital connections.
Some of the technology in the novel is evident today, while some is a vision years ahead. Whether all of it comes to fruition in a more refined way, who knows?
This novel is all about surf culture — what inspired you?
My son took to surfing at an early age. On occasion, we’d ride waves together. But then he started to surf big and left me behind.
When he began to compete in the National Scholastic Surfing Association, the contest schedule dictated long and tiring trips up and down the California coast. I became a surf dad, carting him to each contest, and to the beach for practice for nearly a decade.
This is where I absorbed surf culture and witnessed first-hand the talented men and women who were competing. I’ve never come across a novel about a professional female surfer, and so I thought how much I’d like to write a smart portrayal of one living in a world of high-stakes competition and the family drama that comes with it.
This interview was conducted by Josh Chamot, who writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture.