In Way Off Plan, the very first book in my Firsts and Forever Series, my main character was a surfer. That choice wasn’t just random. I’ve always had an affinity for surf culture, and I made Jamie a surfer because that rooted him in a world I knew well.
I grew up in Huntington Beach, which is in southern California. My hometown has such a rich surfing history that a surfer is actually included in the city logo. I personally have never surfed (the lack of coordination is strong with this one), but I spent all my summers on the beach and bodyboarding in the Pacific (that’s somewhat like surfing, but without that whole pesky standing up part). Later on, I went to college in Santa Cruz, California, another town where surfing is everything, and I moved back to Santa Cruz after grad school and five years in San Francisco.
I’ve always thought surfers are fascinating people. They’re both athletes and daredevils. When a storm rolls in, the rest of us run for cover. But surfers run toward the huge waves. They can be pretty darn sexy too, in those skin-tight wetsuits (and also when they change out of them on the side of the road – you better believe my friends and I used to cruise that spot when we were in high school). :)
Interestingly, San Francisco also has an active surfing community, even though that’s obviously not the first thing most people think of when someone mentions the City by the Bay. When I lived there, my favorite place to watch people surf was Fort Point, at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Both Jamie and River surf there at times.
There really is a fort at Fort Point, in case you’re wondering. It was built in the mid-1800s and is managed by the National Park Service these days. The mouth of the Golden Gate generates some big waves, and you need to be good to surf Fort Point, because the waves crash onto jagged rocks, not a sandy beach. That’s Fort Point in both photos.
Jamie was my first surfer, and now I’m writing my second. As many of you know, River surfs too, and he had a tiny cameo in Way Off Plan. I’ve included that scene below. I’ve always wanted to write another surfer, and four years later, I get to do just that in All I Ever Wanted, the next book in my series.
This is from Way Off Plan:
Several locals greeted me as I jogged across the sand, and I gave them a little salute. I’d been surfing these waters since I was nine, and it was a tight-knit community. A friend of mine called out, “Hey, Jamie. You going out there? The waves are shit, dude.” The wind was blowing his long brown hair into his eyes, and he pushed it back with one hand so he could look at me.
“Hi River. Yeah, I’m gonna give it a shot.”
He shrugged and picked up his board. “Suit yourself, bro.” River headed in the opposite direction.
The waves slapped my knees as I waded into the water. I laid on my board and paddled out. The first few minutes were always bitterly cold before the layer of water beneath my wetsuit warmed up. The cold cleared my head and made me focus. I welcomed it.