Southern California Author, Surfer Pat Steele Debuts his First Novel, ‘Scorpion Bay’

Story of Struggle, Drugs, and Redemption Receives Top Reviews

Southern California author Pat Steele has debuted his first novel, Scorpion Bay, published by Aspenwood Publishing.  While Steele is a longtime surfer, his book is not about riding waves; it’s an action-adventure fiction novel about struggle, turmoil, drug addiction, redemption, and success that is partly set in Mexico.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Will, who grew up with an alcoholic father, finds connecting with others a challenge, but eventually he begins a life he can be proud of. He finds steady work as a carpenter, and his relationship with his longtime girlfriend is going so well he can see it lasting forever. But it doesn’t. While Will wants his childhood to be the worst part of his life, now there is an even greater darkness that he is helplessly drawn to. As he grapples with the events of his distant and recent past, he encounters the same forces that overcame his father—and to survive, he must defeat them. Right when he has bottomed out, he is taken in by a Mexican fisherman and his family. Will learns much about life from the spiritual, humble fisherman, and the Mexican family guides him back to health and sobriety.

The book’s main theme: “There’s always a chance for redemption,” Steele says.

Steele is a no-nonsense, raw storyteller whose writing is akin to Ernest Hemingway – simple and direct prose. Steele’s Scorpion Bay is just that, with two different lives, struggles, and cultures that collide, in a good way.

“I’m really not that interested in describing elaborate scenery;  I’m more interested in the human experience,” says Steele, who began writing the book nearly two decades ago while living in Mexico with his wife. “The inspiration for Scorpion Bay came from sheer boredom. My wife and I lived in Mexico for nine months without TV, phone, Internet or radio. We were very isolated and the only communication with the States was a fax in a small town 45 minutes away.”

And the name of the book?

“The title is for people who know nothing about surfing, and is not to be confused with the surf spot in Mexico,” Steele says. “Where we lived in the jungle had a terrible scorpion problem. I was stung three times; my wife was stung on her chest in the middle of the night. Scorpions were on my mind when I titled the book. Arturo, the Mexican fisherman character in the book, also lives in a town the locals call Scorpion Bay because of all the scorpions.”

Steele also borrowed many of his experiences while living in Mexico for his novel. He also injected some of his own life experiences into the book. The Southern California surfer grew up on the edge of Playa del Rey and Westchester from his birth in 1949 to 1969.  He learned to surf at Ballona Creek, an 8.8-mile-long waterway in southwestern Los Angeles County, whose watershed drains the Los Angeles basin. It was a highly polluted and very localized jetty surf break.

When he was 15, Steele would road trip every weekend to surf  at Beacons in Leucadia  with some friends. “We would camp out and surf all day,” Steele remembers. “Beacons had a reef break and kelp beds which made a huge impression on me. I never forgot it.”

“The gringo characters in the book come from growing up in L.A.” he says. “I had great parents, but some of my friends didn’t. When I left LA in ’69, hard drugs had taken over. One of my girlfriends even died of a heroin overdose.”

Steele had followed that girlfriend from Playa del Rey to Santa Cruz via hitchhiking. By then, he was so deep into drugs that he desperately needed to find a way out.

“How do you get out of that hole and make it back and become successful?  I was this close to not escaping. I went through withdrawals a couple of times, and I just knew that I had to leave Playa del Rey. I first went to Santa Cruz because the girl who OD’d lived there with her brother, who was a drug dealer. Living with a drug dealer just compounded the problem. I had actually stopped surfing because I was so drugged out. I decided I needed to get healthy.”

Shortly after, in 1969, Steele quit his drug habit and moved to Leucadia with $100, his suitcase and his board; he didn’t know a soul.

The message portrayed in Scorpion Bay via the enlighten poor Mexican fisherman is,  “Spirituality can be found by anyone that pursues it,” Steele says.

These days, Steele, now a retired roofer, lives in Leucadia again with his wife after residing in Solana Beach for 46 years, where they raised their sons, Taylor (a surf filmmaker) and Cody (ex pro surfer, a realtor and entrepreneur), both of which now have their own children.

As Steele reflects on the short period of his drug abuse, he says the North County surf and beach community helped set him on a better path.

When I landed in Leucadia, I had turned the page on that chapter and had committed myself to never fall back into that dark hole again,” he says. “Surfing was a key element in raising my sons. Since my wife surfs, every family vacation was a surf destination.. I now have grandchildren that are going to the same schools as my sons. My sons are good fathers and good people. I will always be indebted to the North County area for being an oasis when I was at my worst.”

Scorpion Bay is available on Amazon and Kindle. For more information, please visit

So far, the novel has received top reviews:

Exciting gripping page turner! I was drawn in to feel like I was riding right along with the main character on a fast moving journey from unintended consequence and desperate despair to his quest for inner peace and salvation. Add in some retribution too. Action packed and never a dull moment – a great read I couldn’t put down.

What a fantastic read from start to finish!
What a great story of human character:
Strength, weakness to redemption!
I could not put it down from start to finish.

Great situation descriptions create a flowing and fun read. It is hard to put down.

This book is an entertaining read that covers all of the human emotions from the worst to enlightenment. I loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

What a great read! Sex, drugs, rock and roll paired with a story about family and overcoming the odds!

What a great book. Captivating and engaging from start to finish with some twist and turns throughout. The main character has a lot of internal struggles that I think a lot of could relate too.

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Andrea Siedsma