Tony Bathey, a first-time novelist and La Jolla resident, knocked this one out of the ballpark. The intriguing page-turner, replete with assault, bribery, sexual harassment, tragedy, diversity and multi-culturalism, will earmark this summer into the memory of his readers.
Noted as the first of an explosive series, Bathey taps into his tenure as a lifeguard to set the stage for a profession most only dream about. Characters, developed from “those I know and those I am,” plot their way through lifeguarding for the Department of Coastal Safety. Lifeguard education and training are documented between working with government, state and municipal bureaucracies. Bathey layers raw emotion between politics, diversity and discrimination. Characters are raw. Plots are intense. Nothing is left to chance. And everything is not what you think.
“I know a lot about lifeguarding,” said Bathey. “But I even know more about people.”
While Bathey admitted to “slight embellishments” to Tower 18’s rigors of lifeguard training, he underscored the parallels in achieving the highly coveted careers. Athletic prowess, diligence and pure grit determine individual success through testing in nine beaches in 10 days through difficult weather and surf conditions. Oceanside, Camp Pendleton, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Imperial Beach, and Coronado are beaches listed among those used to achieve lifeguard status within the City of San Diego, an organization with a “really reputable reputation.”
“You have to be extremely good in giving quality direction and commanding respect,” he continued. “In between the excitement of the ocean and making rescues, lifeguarding can be boring. Bureaucracy is tough. Sometimes you just have to kiss a lot of ass.”
Sporting a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences from the University of Arizona, Bathey’s extensive coaching background and colorful resume – commercial fishing in Alaska; bartending in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe; carpentry in Alpine, Arizona; plus “an interesting stint in Las Vegas” – added flavor to Tower 18’s character development.
“My stories are reminiscent of my past,” he said. “I wrote what I experienced, emotionally and physically. Characters were based on people I met, events that occurred and a philosophy – the paradox surrounding the issue of minorities serving as lifeguards.”
Regarding the characters as “my best friends,” Bathey laced political strength and conviction through right and left-wing arguments while “painting a fat line through the middle to let the reader decide which side of the political spectrum to choose.”
“Removing all subjectivity, Tower 18 is a moveable object meeting an irresistible force,” he said.
Serving the shores of Southern California for more than a decade, Bathey’ s accolades include the titles of Imperial Beach Lifeguard “Rookie of the Year” and City of San Diego Nominee for “Rescue of the Year.” The graduate from the San Diego Regional Life Guard Academy currently serves as the swim coach for La Jolla’s Windansea Master’s U.S. Masters swim team.
Inspired and encouraged by Tower 18’s positive feedback, Bathey describes writing as a skill, an act that stands alone as an “indulgence more than a hobby.” Working corporate by day, Bathey writes “whenever I can.” The avid journal writer took but one writing class “ever,” a graduate course in memoir writing and advanced fiction writing.
“If I could, I would write full-time because I enjoy it,” he said. “But writing isn’t easy. And hard is a relative term. But writing isn’t my hobby. I’m not giddy when I sit down to write. I write because I want to tell a story.”
Tower 18 almost never existed. The novel was born and bred from the theft of Bathey’s former novel, “The Wanderlust Crew,” a book “weeks from completion” that was stolen – in its entirety – with not a single word backed up.
“The theft of my laptop, backup discs, notepads and journals that contained every unsaved word of all of my previous writing projects left me numb,” he said. “I grieved its loss as one would grieve a death. Attempts to retrieve those words though memory or re-creation were exercises in futility. I knew I had to let it go. And the day after I did, Tower 18 was born.”
Most notably, Bathey’s acknowledgments depict the author’s generous heart, respect and admiration for the talent of those who risk their lives for their love of the ocean. He writes in his acknowledgments,“To the men and women who provide public safety on every guarded beach on planet Earth, know that you are respected, admired and trusted. What you do requires a certain temperament and quality of character unique to emergency response. Not every individual that accepts the responsibility of making ocean rescues experiences the humility that comes with actually preventing the death of another human being, just moments before that human’s life most certainly would have ended...”.