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An Author-Surfer Collaboration

The New York Times’s Motoko Rich reports on what may seem to be an unusual collaboration between an author and its subject. Susan Casey, a former creative director at Outside magazine, has just signed a book deal for about $1 million with Broadway Books to write about the science of giant waves and the surfers who try to ride them. To research the book, she needs help getting to the center of oceans where these waves erupt and where surfers try to catch them – an undertaking that often requires helicopters, wave runners and exquisite timing. So she is paying Laird Hamilton, the celebrity surfer who will be a central character in her book, to put her at the center of the action.

“I’m asking him to put me in the middle of his dangerously and logistically complex undertaking,” said Casey, whose previous book was about great white sharks. “It was inevitable that we would have to have some kind of incentive for him to do that.” She added: “He doesn’t need the exposure, and he’s past the point in his career when he’s going to do this out of the goodness of his heart.” And Stephen Rubin, president and publisher of Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, said he had no problems with the arrangement, unusual but not unheard of in publishing circles. “He is giving her access to things that she would never have and taking time,” he asked. “Why shouldn’t he get paid?”

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