Sea Otters: Playful Friends or Harmful Predators?
Extensively Researched Novella Wins Four Major Book Awards, Extends Best-Selling author Mara Purl's California Central Coast Milford-Haven Saga
With her finger always on the pulse of life in California's gorgeous Central Coast, best-selling author Mara Purl spent three years researching the issues that she eventually wove into a novella that has now captured four prestigious book awards.
Its most recent award is the Gold Global E-Book Award, awarded in Santa Barbara August 13th. Two weeks earlier, the book won the Gold at the American Fiction Awards. And earlier this year it captured the Finalist spot at the International Book Awards, as well as the Gold at the Los Angeles Book Festival Book Awards. "I'm thrilled that judges, who are experts in the literary field, have honored my book with these meaningful awards," said the author. "And I'm very excited that these awards will help more readers find a story I belief they'll find fun and engrossing, as well as a tale that highlights some important environmental issues."
The nearly novel-length novella includes an in-depth look at what are probably the coastal waters' most adorable critter. But, like any member of the animal kingdom, otters can be vicious when protecting their young. The book includes two harrowing attacks—first by a human predator, and then by a defending mother. "This isn't just a cute little book to share with your children," Purl warns. "It has teeth—literally."
Sea otter controversy goes back to the 1800s. With their native home extending from Monterey to Santa Barbara, and outward to the Channel Islands, you'd think sea otters have plenty of room to play, propagate, forage and feed. Yet the species—prized for its luxurious pelts—was hunted so fiercely and for so long, that it was thought to be extinct, until environmentalist Margaret Owings discovered a last, nearly lost, colony sheltered in an estuary beneath the Bixby Bridge on iconic Highway 1. Discovery of the few remaining animals triggered new environmental protection, and sparked a series of explosive political, business, and ecological events that continue to ripple to this day.
The marine-based book has also been proving that nothing beats the summer heat like a story that takes readers to the ocean. Purl proved this with her previous novels and novellas, which skyrocketed to the top of best-sellers lists on Amazon and BN.com. The new story has readers admiring the coastal view from the sumptuous city of Santa Barbara; dining on tasty seafood along the Wharf; settling in aboard a kayak for a close-up view of sea otters in their natural habitat; and a thrilling ride across the Santa Barbara Channel to the mystical island of Anacapa. As if that weren't enough, the story also includes a dangerous predator, two budding romances, and some laugh-out-loud humor.
The series protagonist, wildlife artist Miranda Jones, researches the sea otters up-close with compelling details the author discovered by working in particular with three experts in the field: Erin Lenihan, senior animal specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Rescue Program; Brian Hatfield, the wildlife biologist who, with both the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the US Geological Survey, has conducted research and monitoring of the Southern Sea Otter since the late 1970s; and Don Barthelmess, professor of Commercial Diving at the Santa Barbara City College Marine Diving Technology Department. "Without the information and guidance of these dedicated experts, my story simply could not have been written," stated the author. "Not only did they provide valuable information up front, they also review chapter segments for accuracy. I can't possibly thank them enough."
Mara Purl, who has become a leading voice in Women's Fiction, has a mother-daughter storyline in this book that touches the hearts of her readers. "Nothing involves the core of a woman's life more than her relationship with her mother," the author commented, "and nothing is more complex." Purl's recent blog, "If It's Not One Thing It's Your Mother" has been one of her most popular posts. The author continued, "My protagonist has a great mother, but these two strong women vye for control. Is it a mother's role to 'helicopter' her child even in adulthood? Is it a daughter's job to establish boundaries? How can we see through uncomfortable or inappropriate words, and feel the underlying love?"
Purl's ongoing story-line has resonated with her readers from day one. In this story, where we see her lead character visit her parental home for the first time, even more of the relationship comes to light. Her story is made all the more poignant, as Mara delayed publication of this story and the upcoming novel to follow, in order to devote herself to caring for her own mother, who has since passed on. "My mother was my biggest fan, and always enjoyed giving my books as gifts. This book is one way I can honor her."
When Otters Play is available in print or ebook format at all major book sellers. To watch research videos, read the author's blog, subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and find out more about Mara, visit http://www.MaraPurl.com.