Mike Davis was born on a small farm in Lorimor, Iowa to an ambitious Methodist father and a young mother, who was part Sioux – A dangerous mix for a sensitive kid with red hair in any situation. His father’s burgeoning career had Mike in nine different schools in his first nine years of formal education from Des Moines, Iowa to Kansas City, Ridgeway Colorado, Shawnee, Kansas and finally to Santa Barbara, California – All of which taught him what it is like to always be the outsider with a special perspective to local and very often strangely parochial beliefs and practices.
His life really began when he moved to Santa Barbara, California and began surfing at age twelve. It was the most exotic and exciting thing he’d ever seen and he loved everything about it. He’s surfed all over the world for over fifty years now and seen some indescribable things and met some incredible people who have taught him a great many things. He spent his working career shaping surfboards, (well over 25,000 surfboards, sailboards and longboards) counting many champions and even World Champions like Nat Young, Tom Luedecke, Shaun Tomson, Barton Lynch and many others as customers; a craft he learned from legends like John Eichert, George Greenough, Renny Yater, Bob Cooper and Dale Velzy and a host of other legendary watermen.
In 1967 he was selected as the youngest member for a program of young writers chosen to write the next great American novel and spent two years attending seminars, readings, lectures and talks all over the American west by America’s brightest lights such as Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe. He left the program in 1970 to pursue a career in the surfboard industry in Australia because his heroes rode surfboards and writing was just too tedious for his energetic and restless nature. He did however supplement his income with his typewriter, writing columns for newspapers and magazine articles.
It was the PC with the new cut and paste which eliminated the part of writing that Mike had always hated in the revision stage and led to his first PC writing a screenplay for a wavesailing movie entitled ‘Spirit’ that aired on the ABC in the late eighties as well as Malibu Heaven in the early nineties.
Mike won the MAF Author’s award in 1999 and published his first novel, The Noosa Heads Affair in 2000 about a group of surfers who save their town from unconscionable developers, which was received with acclaim and good sales. He’s written for Tracks, Sailwind Quarterly, Surfing World, Seanotes, Surfer’s Path, The Surfer’s Journal and contributed several books and is also a published poet. Preferring fiction, he writes about real life people dodging the very real perils that dog all of us and communicates on many levels.
He’s married to beautiful artist wife Jo and lives on the point at Noosa Heads – They surf when they can and he writes every day. His one literary ambition is to eventually finish James Joyce’s Ulysses before he dies. “Every time I pick it up, my life seems to take another turn and I get sidetracked. It’s that melody stuck in my head and I just keep going back to it and it enriches me.” There might just be something in that. If you hear that he’s finally finished it – Check the obituary pages.
While shaping surfboards has brought him much joy and notoriety – The stories of those years and the interesting and colourful characters who’ve inhabited, indeed been what those eras are what it’s all about for him.
Says Nat Young of Ballad: “From the first page I was cartwheeling into an amazing free fall journey that spat me out two days later, still rolling, sweating and bleeding, a steel plate in my head, heartbroken and laughing and stoked to be a surfer. What a trip!”