Kellye Abernathy is the author of The Aquamarine Surfboard. The Aquamarine Surfboard is a beach tale about opening up to mystery, building community when and where you can and about discovering the ocean. The novel follows Condi Bloom who has a dream to learn to surf. YEM was able to speak with Kellye about her love of the ocean, what her writing process looks like, and some of her influences for her book.
Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first realize that you wanted to become an author?
Kellye Abernathy: When I was a little girl, I read and wrote stories all the time. My family moved frequently, but every place I lived there was a school or public library to welcome me. Books were my trusted friends, libraries a safe space. I was always surrounded by stories that saved me from loneliness—ones that intrigued, sparkled, inspired and comforted.
YEM: Your debut novel The Aquamarine Surfboard is out, how does that feel?
Kellye: Exhilarating and a little miraculous! It’s thrilling to bring a book into the world.
YEM: You write about the ocean because you have a love for it, where did that love come from?
Kellye: Water has always been my element. Though we often lived in landlocked places, my family visited many coastal beaches. The call of the ocean was an instant connection. At once I was drawn to the depth, the mystery, the vibrations of the tides. Immersion in a limitless expanse of water is a sacred experience for me, a source of constant wonder. The ocean is a grand and revitalizing force—constantly changing colors, shape, and rhythms.
YEM: Do you have a fact about the ocean that not many people know?
Kellye: I’m always surprised when people don’t realize that the ocean is barely 5% explored. We know less about this part of the earth than we do about our solar system!
I also wish people were more aware of how over-fishing is one of the biggest contributors to changing ocean temperatures. While the ocean is a magical place—highly adaptable and ever changing—it is a delicate balance of animal and plant life. Honoring and protecting the ocean is an essential issue of our time.
YEM: Did you always know that you wanted to write a book where the ocean was a theme in it?
Kellye: Actually, no. Writing about the ocean is a fairly new theme for me. Until a few years ago, I wrote poetry and contemporary suspense. Everything changed when I went on a mystical trip to Laguna Beach, California. One misty morning, while doing a sunrise yoga practice in a secluded cove, I looked to the far horizon. A mysterious surfer boy suddenly popped up out of an outrageously high line of waves, silhouetted in early morning light and mist. It was magic! That day, The Aquamarine Surfboard was born.
YEM: The Aquamarine Surfboard also deals with grief and poverty, what made you decide on writing about that?
Kellye: In my work as a yoga teacher and advocate for trauma survivors, I’m constantly inspired by the great wisdom of those who have survived substantial loss, marginalization, and poverty. They are our teachers. I write about these themes because we need more creative community-building ventures—where everyone has a place.
YEM: What does your writing process look like?
Kellye: First pages are a chaotic mess, stream-of-consciousness, turning off my internal editor, getting words down on a page. (Results in a terrifying excess of typos and unclear sentences.) The next draft requires thinking, figuring out story structure, laying out scenes, putting pieces of text in each. Then comes a clean-up to clarify, tighten, re-order and question whether I’ve written enough—or too much. That’s when my fearless critique group comes in. They read and review the story, making important suggestions. After a good, constructive critique by fresh eyes, I move forward with a final draft.
YEM: Do you have any advice for someone who might want to be an author?
Kellye: Write as many minutes per day as you can—and get a reliable and skilled critique group. (If your critique group says something is not working—believe them.) Persist and write on!
YEM: What would you like your readers to take away from reading your book?
Kellye: I’d love for my readers to set an intention to find the everyday magic in all beings and things, staying in touch with the moon and the stars and the tides, remembering that joy and love are the most contagious of energies.
YEM: Was any part of your life an influence for The Aquamarine Surfboard?
Kellye: Creative community-building is my passion. I believe in changing the world—one relationship at a time. Let’s hang out with people who are different than us—and figure out how we’re the same, while celebrating differences and new perspectives.
My work as a yoga and meditation teacher also influenced this book. Breathing is like the tides, an in breath and an out breath to everything. Movement and breath connect us to our own unique healing powers. And, of course, surfing is yoga on a board!
YEM: What did you learn about yourself during the writing process?
Kellye: I learned that writing is a precious flow state where I get to lose track of time and fall into a kind of meditation, fueled by the vast universe of imagination.
YEM: Do you think that your next books will also have to do with the ocean?
Kellye: Yes! The book I’m currently working on is set in the same world, a companion novel to The Aquamarine Surfboard (think Amethyst!) Ocean themes are an essential part of my work and message.
YEM: What’s your favorite quote from the book?
Kellye: “The answers are inside you, found in everything you already know plus everything you’re willing to learn.”
The Aquamarine Surfboard
by Kellye Abernathy