North Narrabeen surfer and local writer Kate McMahon has released an action packed and adventurous trilogy that any teenage girl will love, especially surfer girls! You instantly fall in love with all the characters and it feels like you are jumping in their travel bags and going on the journey with them. 

The three book series, “Ocean Rules”, “Lost in LA” and “Sea of Gratitude”, focuses on three best friends, Jaspa, Mel and Carolyn, and the challenges they face whilst travelling around the world on the World Junior Tour. 


The first book, “Ocean Rules” focuses on Jaspa and the demands and rewards of being a junior surfer. Jaspa’s brother Tyler has a growing envy of his sister’s natural ability without having to give any effort, creating a rift between the two. During this book, we fell in love with Jaspa’s gypsy soul and her kind-heartedness, she reminded us that we need to take a step back from life and appreciate the little things. 

“Lost in LA” the second book of the trilogy focuses on Mel and the girls travelling to the popular destination of Malibu, California, in particular Venice Beach and it’s wild characters. Mel loses focus on her goal of being a professional surfer and gets caught in a troublesome group of Californians and ruptures her friendship with Jaspa and Carolyn on the way. Not only did this book make us want to travel to Malibu, California, but it reminded us that friendships are so important and to always trust those that know you best.

The final book in the series, “Sea of gratitude”, takes us on a journey with Carolyn, who is burdened with secrets and has no choice but to drop off the world tour. Luckily enough someone comes in to rescue her and she joins her friends on the wildest ride of their lives. But Carolyn feels a change coming. We resonated with Carolyn on a different level to Jaspa and Mel, she faces many hardships throughout the book however continues to look on the bright side as much as she can, this is relevant to the current global situation seeing as we are all in a time of uncertainty but Carolyn reminds us to take the good with the bad.

We thoroughly enjoyed these books and highly recommend them as a downtime read. We read all three in less than a week! After reading the trilogy so quickly it got us thinking so we touched base with Kate and asked her a few questions.

KATE IN THE WAVES. Pic. Kate McMahon

When do you start writing?

In all honesty, I wasn’t a gun writer in school. I was more into acting and being the cheeky one trying to make my classmates laugh and getting into trouble for it. It wasn’t until I left an admin career to search for something bigger that I found my hidden talent and, ultimately, my passion. I went overseas for two years just surfing, snowboarding and doing whatever job I could find. While I was in Canada, my mum sent me the very first female surf magazine to launch in Australia (called Shred Betty) because it featured some of my friends. I decided then and there that I wanted to write for a surf magazine. So, when I returned home a few months later I put myself out there to pen for whoever would take me, and learnt along the way. I knew some of the women on the pro tour and I had a cheeky persona, so that was the foundation I drew on to bring my own voice to female surfing. Then I was offered the role of Editor for Waves SurfGIRL magazine which was the catalyst for many great things. I’ve edited so many wonderful magazines, from the triple J Annual, through to Disney Adventures and The Wiggles, and many more!

What inspired you to write these books?

I loved the Luna Bay book series when it was published in the US in the early 2000s. But I always felt an Aussie version would be grittier. So I had the vision way back then, but it just took me a while to get around to it and to garner the confidence to do it. The story for Ocean Rules (book 1) was loosely inspired by watching Laura Enever’s journey and how she was competing at the same time as her brother was on the WQS. Although, Chris Enever is much lovelier than my character’s brother!

You write these books as if you have visited these places overseas. If you have what made you decide to write about these locations and what were your experiences like there?

Book 1 is set in Australia. Every year I used to attend an all-female surf comp at Lennox Head, to both report on it and compete in it (just the B-Grade division!). There also used to be a massive junior event there annually. Both were so much fun; everyone staying in this small town, a beautiful sense of surfing community (and parties!). That’s what I drew on for book 1. 

Book 2 (Lost in LA) is set in Malibu. I’d surfed there a few times, ogled at all of the mansions along the shoreline. But the main reason I set the scene there was because there used to be a world tour women’s event at Malibu, and I’d hear stories of my friends competing and mixing with celebrities and rock stars, and just getting the full Hollywood treatment. I figured that kind of scene would be a great setting for my characters to learn some valuable life lessons!

Book 3 (Sea of Gratitude) is set in Brazil – Rio and Praia do Rosa. My Brazilian friends took me on a wild and beautiful journey there a few years ago, and I wanted my characters to share that experience. Brazil is a complicated country; insanely gorgeous, great surf beaches, but stricken with such a devastating class divide and corruption. My aim is to harness a passion for travel, open-mindedness and inquiry for my readers. It’s important that we step outside of our privileged bubbles.


What kinds of challenges did you face while writing the books?

Imposter Syndrome raised its head many times throughout book 1. Am I good enough? What if no one likes it? But the only way to combat that is to just believe in yourself, and give it a go. The other one is time – I work full-time, so have to spend every spare minute I have working on the book. I also currently self-publish to retain all creative control, but it takes a lot of work (and money) to get the books out into the world.

What would you say to young girls that are wanting to write but are unsure where to start?

Don’t judge yourself while you’re doing it. Just let the words flow, and find your own voice. You don’t even have to write in a traditional ‘dear diary’ way – if that doesn’t connect with you, then find a niche. Perhaps you want to write observations on people around you, or  about the ocean, or birds, or trees, or things affecting your local community. And step away from cliches, inject feeling instead. Such as, when describing a wave, what else can you observe apart from it being crystal-clear or blue. Is there a salty scent tickling your nostrils? Is the barrel covering you from the outside world like the pillow fort you used to make as a kid? Be playful, be curious, be daring with your writing.


Overall this series reminded us how lucky we are to travel the world with our friends, surfing perfect waves and living our wildest dreams. As surfer’s that competed in the junior series and eventually started chasing the QS tour, these books really give you an understanding of what it’s like to travel the world with your best mates surfing and competing.

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