Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meet Author and Conservationist Marina Kuperman

This week rolls on with a talented woman on a mission. Author Marina Kuperman wrote a young adult novel which combines her love of Costa Rica, her interest in surfing, her awe of the Leatherback turtle, and her desire to make a difference in the world. Marina will discuss Turtle Feet, Surfer’s Beat, her inspirations, and her ongoing work to preserve marine life.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Marina. It’s so nice to finally have a chance to talk to you.

Before we chat about the book, please tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? What was it like to move from the United States to Costa Rica? How long did it take you to adjust to life there?

Hi, thanks so much for having me here! To be honest, moving to Costa Rica was the most natural thing for me. I absolutely love the country and the people here are very accepting of foreigners. I’ve been writing for ages. I must have like a million journals stacked in my closets, but after going to the Leatherback park and having an encounter with the turtle, I felt a need to go further with my writing.

If I remember right, you have a little boy at home. Do you struggle to balance your writing career and family life? Do you have any tips for other working parents?

Costa Rica is great, because it gives you the opportunity to hire help, something I would never had had if I lived in the States. However, I also find that I do a lot more work in the early hours of the day, and when your child is really little you can work while they nap, and once they get older during school hours. The secret is to get as much done as possible in a short period of time. And that is no small feat.

Why do like about writing for young people? Do you think you’ll ever branch out to another genre?

For now I’m truly enjoying this age group. First of all, you can have a lot more fun, without being so serious, secondly my writing is fun but educational, and I truly believe this age group is THE NEXT GENERATION!

What is your opinion of sexual situations in young adult novels? Are they appropriate? How graphic would you expect a sexual situation in a young-adult novel to be?

I think it’s important to have it there, because like it or not kids are sexually active. If we ignore this, and pretend it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t solve anything right. So, if we talk about it then they can make their own decisions.

I really want to get into Turtle Feet, Surfer’s Beat. I’ve read it and I know how wonderful it is. Tell us what made you decide to write this story.

When I had my first encounter with the Leatherback and found out that their numbers have diminished from 1160 to 50 per year and at this rate there will be no more left within 10 years, something stirred inside of me. I have a 3 year old, and I desperately want him to see this creature in its natural habitat. So I decided to write a book. I wanted to make it educational, but not boring. Plus, I really like preteens and teens, so I realized if I add the surf cultural, a typical girl—like them, and the turtles it will be a fun ride and hopefully inspire them to do something.

This story is written in first person. Why did you choose this point of view? Could the story have been told from the point of view of another character?

Definitely. But since the main character is 16 and the main market for the book is girls from 12-16, I figured they can relate better to someone similar to them, placed in a new experience.

In Chapter One, we meet Penelope and her family. What can you tell us about them? How do they end up in Costa Rica?

Penelope’s dad is a photographer commissioned to capture the turtle on film. Since the parents are having marital problems they decided to bring the whole family along for the ride.

Tell us about Kendall Browne. What is it about Kendall that readers will relate to? Why will they care about him?

I fell in love with Kendall. He’s one of those guys that is gorgeous but doesn’t know it. Talented, but will never boast about it. Friendly, but without the look-how-cool-I-am attitude. Plus his genuine love for the ocean and the turtles brings out his real side rather than just your party-hard surfer. And, he’s a surfer dude!

Turtle Feet, Surfer’s Beat is about more than just reading enjoyment. You want to get people involved in marine preservation. What have you done to capture people’s interest in saving marine life?

I’m starting an online community for kids to hear what their favorite surfers, artists, musicians and other people are doing to help out. Hopefully to give them ideas to take action and have fun.

You’re also donating a portion of the proceeds from Turtle Feet, Surfer’s Beat to help saving the Leatherback Turtle and other marine animals. How does that work?

I started the Turtle Foot Foundation which works hand in hand with PRETOMA the Costa Rican organization that works directly with the Leatherback park. All my donations go to helping get the proper care, equipment and protection for this animal.

What is up next for you? Will you continue Penelope’s story? Are there other projects you would like to share with us?

I’m hoping to continue with Penelope and Kendall, however, I’m working on another book right now about a girl skateboarder who is handicapped and thrives against the odds in a male dominated sport.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I hope that kids enjoy the book, and then come to http://www.turtlefeetsurfersbeat.com site to get fun ideas how they can help out too. Every little bit counts and everyone can make a difference, no matter how big or small your efforts!

Thanks for spending time with us today, Marina. I wish you much success in all your endeavors. I hope you’ll have the chance to join us again soon.

Thanks so much for having me!

Note: Check out my review of Turtle Feet, Surfer's Beat at http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/2007/10/turtle-feet-surfers-beat-by-marina.html

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