Thursday, June 29, 2017

THAT CRAZY PERFECT SOMEDAY Excerpt and chat with Michael Mazza

 The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world’s wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she’s intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri’s personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.
Amazon             B&N              Indiebound

Here's my  recent chat with Michael.  Just a heads up, there are a few swear words in the excerpt. 

Appreciate your taking the time to answer a few questions.
Why Mafuri, a young woman? Was she one of those characters I've heard authors speak of who talk to them constantly, refusing to calm down until their story is told?
Great question. I wrote a short story around 14 years ago about a bubbly female character and her depressed, ex-Navy captain father who commanded an aircraft carrier. I work-shopped the story, which wasnt much of a story other than a sketch of the two in a bar. The daughter wasnt developed other than her voice. The father was depressed over his wifes infidelities. The daughter did her best to console him. The story was absurd. The aircraft carrier he commanded was Streisand class. There was a boxing kangaroo, an Aussie bartender, and a fight. I loved the characters, particularly the young woman, but didnt know where to take the story until years later when I was inspired to write a story about a professional woman surfer. Then her voice popped back into my head and wouldnt stop talking. So yes, I suppose Mafuri finally said to me, Hey, dude. I am so right for the part of the main character in That Crazy Perfect Someday. So, are you going to bring me to life or make me sit in this digital file forever?”  

Was Mafuri too large for a short story or novella?
Yes. I think Mafuri needed to bust out of that short format because she had too much to say.  

“It’s not the sharks that will kill you, but the accumulated nuisances of life.” ― Michael Mazza, That Crazy Perfect Someday. Does this quote speak for you as well as the character? (It struck me because it's the little things that usually wind up grinding my hamburger.)
It’s one of my favorite lines in the book because I think there’s truth in it. Many of us—at least the lucky ones—will go through life without meeting our fate through some rare catastrophe, and certainly not a shark attack, but the death by a thousand cuts, day-to-day nonsense we all go through can wear a person down.

What, if anything are you currently reading? Have you read anything recently you'd recommend?
I recently read The Sympathizer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Viet Than Nguyen. It’s told from the unique perspective of Vietnamese sleeper agent in America after the Viet Nam War and gives light to Vietnamese refugees, what its like to lose a country and assimilate into a foreign land—insightful and heartbreaking in many ways. I cannot believe it’s a debut novel. The level of craft is masterful—so deserving of the honor. On the lighter front, I highly recommend American Born Chinese, the award-winning graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang. It’s a story of fitting in and gives voice to young Chinese Americans. What Yang captures in his illustrations, the character’s expressions, the efficiency of an entire story in every frame, is pure artistry.

 Do you have a WIP you can share anything about?  
I have two other novels in the works: One novel is in its fourth draft the other is half done. We’ll see where they go. Fingers crossed!

Thank you, 

Google “Mafuri Long.”
Click video.
And voila!
That’s me, surfing the monster of all wavesan eighty-foot beast. I’m like a tiny knife slicing through a gigantic wall of blue that’s rearing up behind me, a total H2O Everest. Scale? Picture me standing next to an eight-story building. In 2023, I became the first “chick” to win the Nike XX Big Wave Classic: one of the few women in history to surf a wave that big, the only one to do it officially. I followed Daddy’s advice before we left the dock for the open sea. “Don’t ride that horse with half your ass,” he said, sending me off with a fist bump. “Go after it, cowgirl.”
The freaky part is that the wave is a hundred miles off the San Diego coast in the middle of nowhere. The surf spot’s called the Cortes Bank, where the fish around you are the size of Volkswagens and very big things can swallow you whole. The only way out there is in a decent-size boat, and the only way to be saved after a serious wipeout is to be rescued by that decent-size boat or plucked up by a Coast Guard helicopter, which one big-wave legend experienced firsthand after a three-wave hold-down. The bank sits just under the water and can kick up epic hundred-footers. It’s one of the biggest, scariest waves in the world, and I mastered it: little five foot three sandy-haired me.
You’d usually have to wait until winter for a wave like that, but weather patterns are so crazy with the globe heating up the last few decades, it’s monumentallike, who can predict? I had no clue how ginormous the wave was. I mean, nobody anticipated itnot my surf coach, the safety team, the other surfers, or the pilots in the choppers circling abovebut a tiny voice inside and the never-ending elevator ride up confirmed it was going to be borderline cataclysmic. When the wave hit its peak, I was staring down a seventy-five-foot vertical drop, fear shrieking inside me. Ride or die, that’s what I thought. Like, seriously, flinch on a wave like that and it’s bye-bye girly-girl. I went supersonic after that, faster than I had ever gone before, my legs feeling the board’s feedback full force, completely in the zone, focused, the entire ocean an angry fist beneath me . . . Then I pulled out of the wave.
            When the video hit social, it ping-ponged around the world, out into space, and back again, sending up a collective girl-power supercheer, pretty much locking up a ton of cash in surf-sponsorships and placing me on every news feed from here to Alice Springs. Jaxthat's what people call my dadsays I have a gift. He says he noticed it the first time I stood up on a wave in Sendai, Japan, back when I was five and we were surfing together, years before that tsunami leveled the place.
The sponsorship money let me set my marine biology degree aside for a while. I couldn't find a job in the field anyway. Let me restate that: I was offered one at SeaLand San Diego straight out of UCSD, basically to put on a carnival show with a thirteenth-generation orca after her act was reintroduced, but I passed because that isn't science, and a creature like that should be ambushing seals out in the ocean and not squeaking for mackerel treats in a man-made swimming pool for some spoiled kids' amusement. So the money lets me spend my days training, and my eyes are on the big prize when the Olympics begin on August 4.
It's around 8:00 the following morning, and I'm out in the water at Mission Beach for a photo shoot, which I do on occasion for sponsors that include Google, Target, and Nike. Today it's ad posters for Nike, in partnership with Target, who will put them up in their stores or something. I really don't pay attention.
We're an hour into the shoot and Jax's episode last night still troubles me even in the bright, post-dawn sun. A photographer named PK is trailing me in the water while the hipster-kook art director in wannabe surf garb, a Parisian beret, and sunglasses watches from the shoreline and barks at us through a bullhorn.
"I need an ass shot! Ass shot, PK!" he yells for the second time. "Ass shots sell wet suits!"
"Is he serious?" I ask.
"He's serious," PK says.
I shout back to shore, "Here's your ass shot!" and follow up with a not-so-friendly hand gesture.
"That's not nice," he yelps back. Behind him, a robotic beach Zamboni combing the sand swings a wide arc and nearly takes him out. He doesn't flinch. 
"Darn," I say. "Just a little more to the right..."
PK is treading water next to me in his wet suit. The black neoprene hood and his bushy mustache make him look like a walrus. He's adjusting the f-stop on his waterproof camera above the surface.
"Between you and me, the guy's a total dick," PK says, setting the motor drive. "Most of these ad guys are."
"What a perv."
There's a loud squawk and a click from shore.
"I can't go home without an ass shot!"
"That's the third time he's said that."
"Ass shot!"
"Fourth," I say. "I'm done."
PK swipes his hand across his throat to say we're finished. The bullhorn crackles.
"That's good," the art director says dryly. "Real fucking nice."
PK looks at me like it's just another dick day. I watch the guy drop the horn into the sane and fire up a cigarette. It isn't enough that last night's events put me in a funky funk, but now I'll have to deal with more of the art director's nonsense when I get to shore. Not to mention the funny feeling that a whole lot of madness is yet to come.                                                                    

© 2017 Michael Mazza, with permission from Turtle Point Press

Michael Mazza is a fiction writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. His stories have appeared in Other Voices, WORDS, Blue Mesa Review, TINGE, and ZYZZYVA. He is best known as an internationally acclaimed art and creative director working in the advertising industry. Along with being named National Creative All-Star by Adweek, his work appears in the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress. He has lectured throughout the country and abroad, most notably at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He has attended the Iowa Summer Writers’ Workshop, the Stanford Creative Writing workshop, and the Wharton School Executive Education MBA program. That Crazy Perfect Someday is his first novel.

Connect with Michael at his website: or on Twitter and Instagram: @mazzastory

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