Paul Mila feels as much at home 80 feet under sea level than he does in his Carle Place home. Over the last 16 years, he’s been diving all over the world and he recently took a look back at his exhilarating diving career in his new book, Bubbles Up.
Mila’s first foray into diving happened while on a trip to Cozumel, Mexico with his neighbors. He fell in love with it after his first try.
“I liked the initial lesson in the pool and then we did a beach dive, and then did the boat dive a few miles off shore,” Mila says. “It was clear and warm and there was a ton of sea life. It was mind boggling. I finished the dive and said ‘I have to do this.’”
That experience changed the course of his whole life. When he returned home, he decided to take lessons at Scuba Network in Carle Place. The lessons consisted of class and pool lessons, and then to complete the open water dive for his scuba certification, he headed back to Cozumel, where his love of diving had first started. He eventually quit his job at MasterCard, giving up his corporate life to spend more time diving.
“I wanted to do more diving and I had always been pretty good at writing so I wanted to get into that,” Mila said. “I always enjoyed writing and I had no idea where it would lead to.”
Since then, Mila has penned four fiction novels revolving around the diving world, as well as a manual on underwater photography, which is another one of his passions. His latest book, Bubbles Up, is Mila’s first venture into nonfiction writing.
He coauthored the book with Judith Hemenway, a fellow dive enthusiast who lives in California and had more experience diving in the Pacific Ocean and Indonesia while Mila had done more dives along the East Coast and Caribbean. The two divers wanted to share their experiences under the sea with others and over the course of the last nine years, the two of them each wrote several chapters of the book.
“We wanted to combine dive experiences from all over the world,” Mila said. “The intent was to make it a lighthearted look at diving, and make it appeal to non-divers as well.”
The book is an easy-to-read narrative. Mila and Hemenway are full of interesting anecdotes that make the reader feel as if they’re underwater as well, watching exotic fish or sharks swim by. Among the experiences Mila recounts is swimming with barracudas in Cozumel. A friend and he were diving and all of a sudden accidentally caught themselves in feeding frenzy.
“It was an amazing experience having barracudas charging and ripping fish apart and once they’re finished, you didn’t know what would happen,” Mila said. “It was a minute and a half of really high octane excitement.”
Another poignant diving memory that made it into the book was diving alongside humpback whales, an experience Mila calls “humbling.”
“We were so close to them but they took care not to hurt us. It’s amazing to see something that big be so concerned,” Mila said. “When you look at a whale in the eye and they look at you, you realize you’re looking into something that has an intelligent brain and has feelings and emotions, and you can see the look in their eye change. And while you’re assessing them they’re assessing you. It’s the most awe-inspiring experience.”
Read more about Mila’s scuba diving adventures in Bubbles Up, which is now available on Amazon and at www.milabooks.com. For more information visit www.paulmila.com