Tuesday, June 23, 2015

BUBBLES UP: Buoyant Adventures in Planet Ocean and An Interview with Paul J. Mila

We're heading down under—beneath the sea, that is—with author Paul J. Mila who co-authored Bubbles Up with Judith Hemenway. Join us as we explore this deep-sea adventure with two long-time divers in the South Pacific.

Bubbles Up plunges you into the world’s oceans with longtime divers, Judy Hemenway and Paul Mila. Join them in the South Pacific and meet 30-ton whales eye to eye, dive into the Caribbean surrounded by hungry sharks, and turn back time as you explore a World War II Pacific wreck. Float serenely amidst the rainbow-colored sea life of a California pinnacle. Feel the thrill of an eagle ray flyby in Cozumel, Mexico, and experience the rush of a barracuda feeding frenzy. Whether you are a diver, snorkeler, or simply an ocean lover rejuvenated by a beach stroll or a swim in the surf, you will enjoy immersing yourself in these fascinating stories.

Praise for Bubbles Up
“If you can't go diving next week, start turning the pages of Paul and Judy's superb collection of personal dive tales. You'll find yourself underwater with humpback whales in Tonga, gasping at a barracuda feed in Cozumel, or finning through WWII wrecks in Guadalcanal. I felt like I was sitting on the beach, listening to old friends spin their stories just for me. This is the book I always wanted to write. They beat me to it.”  —Ben Davison, Editor, Undercurrent Magazine

"For anyone whose heart beats faster by the ocean, Bubbles Up is an enchanted plunge; it will net you wonders."Karen Sunde, author of The Secret Ship

"Bubbles Up is a bold, colorful vision of Mother Nature and her underwater wonders. Divers and non divers alike will be spellbound by the descriptive narrative." —Mike Monahan, author of Barracuda

Q&A with Author & Diver Paul J. Mila
MK: Congratulations on publishing your first nonfiction book, Bubbles Up: Buoyant Adventures in Planet Ocean. The last time we interviewed you, you had just published Near Miss, the fourth in your dive adventure/thriller series. Why did you decide to switch to nonfiction?

Paul: Thanks, MK. Well, about ten years ago my dive friend Judy Hemenway and I thought we should share our dive adventures with a wider audience than just our friends and family. So we set out to write a lighthearted book about our worldwide encounters with sea creatures, including whales, sharks, barracudas, giant eagle rays, and a host of other amazing undersea animals. After writing four novels, I wanted to tackle something different, so this was the perfect opportunity to take a shot at writing nonfiction. Judy had already written a nonfiction book titled The Universe Next Door and was ready to write another book. We’d been putting our chapters together over the years, and we decided we finally had enough material.

MK: What was the biggest difference between writing fiction and nonfiction for you?

Paul: Although it was a challenge to write the stories in an entertaining fashion rather than just reporting facts, I found writing nonfiction much easier. Fiction requires a lot more mental energy to make up an interesting story, create believable characters that the reader will care about, and keep the creative juices flowing. At the end of Bubbles Up, I felt satisfied that we had completed a literary journey. But at the end of a fiction book, I feel totally drained.

MK: What were the challenges of coauthoring a book as opposed to writing it yourself?

Paul: Overall, it was fun to write our individual stories and to bounce them off someone for analysis and critique along the way. Consequently, neither of us could have thin skin, and both had to be able to accept constructive criticism. We learned to compromise since creative issues came up, such as what to include or delete. We made a good team. On the other hand, Judy and I have very different writing styles, so it was a big challenge for our editor, Lorraine Fico-White, to assemble the chapters in a seamless fashion so the reader did not feel jarred by our different styles. Lorraine rose to the challenge and did a great job. The book flows very naturally. Our two voices remain distinct but almost become one at times.

MK: How did you two come up with Bubbles Up for a title?

Paul: That was interesting. I suggested it after reading Jimmy Buffett’s autobiography, A Pirate Looks at Fifty. One story involved a training exercise requiring him to escape from a submerged cockpit. Sensing his anxiety prior to the exercise, Jimmy’s friend gave him an orientation tip: to follow his bubbles up toward the surface.

Judy and I had been looking for an upbeat sounding title to fit the upbeat nature of our book. As Judy wrote in the Preface, “. . . ‘bubbles up’ fits the mood of our stories the way a comfortable, soft, leather glove fits your hand.” Judy came up with the subtitle, Buoyant Adventures in Planet Ocean, (as opposed to Planet Earth) since the surface of our planet is 70% water. As I said, we made a good team.

MK: Did you have a favorite adventure or chapter in the book?

Paul: Good question. Diving with sharks and wandering into the middle of a barracuda feeding frenzy were pretty hi-octane experiences for me. But I would have to say that snorkeling and free diving with humpback whales tops the list. Swimming next to a 40-foot, 40-ton (yes, they average about one ton per foot!) animal that could crush you but chooses instead to respect your space in the water is a humbling experience. And when they look you in the eye and you exchange glances with them, well . . . the emotional high is off the charts.

MK: Aside from wanting to share your experiences, was there any particular reason for writing Bubbles Up?

Paul: I suppose as you get older, you begin to feel a sense of mortality, and you can hear Father Time ticking away. So I wanted to leave a little bit of myself behind, hoping to inspire my grandchildren and others to explore, experience their own adventures, and most of all to have fun doing it. While I can’t speak for Judy, she wrote in her dedication, “The only thing more extraordinary than adventuring among ocean reefs and wildlife is sharing that experience with the love of your life.” She was referring to Jon, her husband of 41 years. I think that’s a pretty good reason to write a book!

Paul Mila swimming with a hawksbill turtle in Cozumel, Mexico.
About the Authors
Judy Hemenway and Paul Mila enjoy diving ocean waters around the world and have collectively logged over 2,000 dives. Their wide-ranging experiences inspired them to share their passion with others. When not diving, Paul writes thriller/adventure novels, works at a local dive shop, and coaches tennis. Judy, having retired, works at only what catches her fancy: she cultivates California native plants, tends her two desert tortoises, and plots when and where she will travel next.

Connect with the Authors

View more of Paul's underwater adventures on his YouTube channel.

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