Thursday, June 29, 2017

Interview with Michael Mazza, Author of That Crazy Perfect Someday + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Michael Mazza to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of That Crazy Perfect Someday from Turtle Point Press!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Michael! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

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.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves earlier this month:

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.

What was your inspiration for the book?

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 NSSA, the contest schedule dictated long and tiring trips up and down the California coast. I became a surf dad, carting him to each contest for nearly a decade. This is where I absorbed surf culture and witnessed the talented men and women competing first hand. I’ve never come across a novel about a professional female surfer and 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.


As a huge fan of first lines, I'd love to hear the first line of That Crazy Perfect Someday. Can you give us a commentary on it?
My Charger clocks eighty-three miles an hour up North Harbor Drive, past the airport, headlights blazing, tachometer red-lining, the V8 roaring as if heading into war.
I wanted a quick sprint out of the starting blocks, a piece of action that created both intrigue and narrative velocity that plunged the reader into the story. From there I kept the character’s voice moving at a clip that mimicked the speed of her car. My hope is that the first chapter hooks the reader.

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes That Crazy Perfect Someday stand out from the rest?

To my knowledge, this is the first novel to give voice to a professional woman surfer. It chronicles what it’s like to compete in a male-dominated sport, the frustrations women face, the rigors and hope. It also exposes the reader to a surfing subculture many know little about and attempts to tell it authentically.

Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Brace yourself for an onslaught of rejection. It’s part of the gig. I asked T.C. Boyle this same wide-eyed question at a book signing. He swept his arm in a wide arc as if to describe the enormity of the room where he just lectured and said. “I could paper this entire place with my rejection letters.” Go online, and you’ll find lists of rejection letters to now famous authors. Read them for inspiration and then get back to work.

Readers, click "Read more" to find out Michael's favorite novels, his goals as a writer, and how he reacts to harsh reviews. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of That Crazy Perfect Someday, so you don't want to miss that either!

Name the top six books that have had the biggest influence on your writing, or on your life in general.

The first isn’t a novel but a book of short stories: Thom Jones's The Pugilist at Rest. It’s the book that set my writing in motion. It so impressed me that I immediately began pecking away at a keyboard. Even into adulthood, I still hear Holden Caulfield’s voice from The Catcher in the Rye. Both these books have voices so accessible it’s as if a live person is right there telling you the story. They’re immersive and unforgettable.

Two novels that also floor me are by Nobel Laureate, J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace. In my opinion, they’re about as perfect novels as you’ll ever read.

Finally, I’d like to point out two recent books that knocked me out—Viet Than Nguyen’s, The Sympathizer and Paul Beatty’s outrageous The Sellout. I cannot believe The Sympathizer is a debut novel. The level of craft is masterful—so deserving of the Pulitzer Prize. And The Sellout? This novel is so audacious, and laugh-out-loud-funny that it not only deserved the Man Booker Prize but it should get the Mark Twain Prize for comedy. I guess you can tell that I like novels with distinctive voices. Perhaps that’s how I arrived at Mafuri’s voice in That Crazy Perfect Someday.


The Catcher in the Rye is one of mine also, and the rest are going on my to-read list! What are you involved in when you aren’t writing?

I began my career as a graphic designer but segued into a much longer career as an advertising art and creative director. Chances are that you’ve seen my stuff. Lately, I’ve come full circle and concentrate my day job on design. On my website, you can see a set of nine vintage surf posters that I designed for That Crazy Perfect Someday. I’ve also designed the novel’s social posts on Instagram.

Those look amazing! It's so fortunate that you can have creative control over your own covers and promotional materials—and it looks so professional. How do you react to harsh or negative reviews to your books?

That brings me back to my advertising career. The campaigns I’ve created were always subjected to testing. I’d often sit behind a two-way glass window watching a dozen people in a focus group shred my work mercilessly. Over that time I’ve grown elephant skin. Negative comments don’t bother me, but rather, help me better understand what I’m not getting right.

In regards to negative book reviews, let me answer it in two ways: First, just like a movie, the story won’t be for everyone so I’m anticipating that. Second, the fact that I have a published debut novel that people can criticize is an absolute blessing. When one considers the alternative of not being published at all, well.


That's a very good way at looking at it. What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

First, and I hate to keep stressing this, accept rejection. Second, keep developing your craft. Third, if you hit a concrete wall with agents and publishers, if it’s driving you nuts, then the self-publishing route may be the way to go. I have an advertising copywriter friend of mine who is self-published. He’s a great writer and now has eleven novels to his credit. He also has a huge fan base and is immensely successful. It’s a new world, and self-publishing is now widely accepted.

What are your goals as a writer?

I hope to sell enough books to publish a second novel.

What’s next for you?

I have two other novels in the works: one is in its fourth draft the other is half done. We’ll see where they go.


Lots of great content to work with. Where can you be found on the web?


Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

What are the top three things about a novel that will make you give it a one-star review?

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Michael! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of That Crazy Perfect Someday—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is answer Michael's question in the comments below:
What are the top 3 reasons you would give a book a one-star review?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Michael and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

I rarely give one-star reviews, so generally I do give them, it's because I couldn't finish the book. The most common reasons for this are because:
  1. The writing quality is terrible, and it is obvious the novel hadn't been revised or proofread by an editor. Sometimes this isn't even biased, but rather, I simply can't cognitively process the poor sentence structure or redundant style
  2. I can't stand the characters; either they're inconsistent, talk in a weird/stilted way (not as a character trait but when ALL characters are this way), or are entirely one-dimensional and it shatters my suspension of disbelief
  3. The plot doesn't seem to be going anywhere and finishing the book would be dissatisfying or a waste of time
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Wunderkind!
Giveaway ends July 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!