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KPBS Midday Edition

Author Carl Hiaasen In San Diego To Talk Florida

Author Carl Hiaasen is pictured in this undated photo.
Quinn Hiaasen
Author Carl Hiaasen is pictured in this undated photo.

Author Carl Hiaasen In San Diego To Talk Florida
Author Carl Hiaasen In San Diego To Talk FloridaGUEST: Carl Hiaasen, author, "Razor Girl"

This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. What is about the state of Florida that tends toward the crazy. That is a question Carl Hiaasen is going -- has been exploring in his novels. His latest is called Razor Girl. They talked with him about his new novel and about why the sunshine state is a gift that keeps on giving to come newswriters. The new book begins with a car accident. Set the scene for -- remember it does public radio. I will be careful. The very opening of the novel is inspired by role events and a real car accident that happened in the Florida Keys and the real-life accident is just happened a couple of years ago. A car full of forest was heading down to Key West and they were struck from behind by another vehicle. Nobody was hurt but when the police arrived they found that the driver of the other vehicle was a woman who was conducting some personal grooming while she was driving. Personal grooming with the razor and event by Florida standards this is unusual. The cop said what in the world are you doing driving 55 miles down Highway 1 and she had a very interesting explanation. They said okay. Who was sitting next to you? She said that is my husband. It to make the papers and even in Florida. I saved this for a number years and said how can I get into a novel and if I do, how can it improve on what really happened for the purposes of comity. So I decided to open this book with that very much like that. It was inspired by this one in the case of the model. What happens in the beginning is not an accident. So it starts with this bizarre scamp but turns into some thing very complex. How would you describe what happens after? Badness, chaos, I don't know how to describe it. The start of a novel is a woman who was driving his car and it turns out that even though she's -- she's been hired to track down a certain person. Of course, the male drivers are always angry and then smitten when they go back to see what happened so this guy is a holder guy -- this guy for the Mafia. That great a whole another set of problems. This is the first time I've ever bought this down from the previous novel. [ Indiscernible - multiple speakers ] it is a series of events that sort of draws them into this mystery beginning in which she collides with Razor Girl herself to get swept away in all about. She sort of takes over. She's really out there and she's also smart and a con artist but she's very endearing. A lot of your female characters are very strong characters. How does that happen? Said that happen accidentally? I've been lucky in my life to have known a lot of women like that in my experience has been that there always smarter than the guys in the room. Mary is certainly a step or two ahead of Andrew and the bad guys that she works for. You always -- it is always experimental when you start off with the characters in your head. Some of them are going to surprise you in good ways in some might disappoint you a little bit. She surprised me very pleasantly. She became a stronger character as the book when on and there was a lot of energy on the page when she was there. Key West is a good setting for somebody like her and for all the craziness that already exist down there. It is a very easy place to set a novel like this especially if you are a Florida writer because there is so much material to approach from. This brings up another question which I imagine you a been asked a lot. What is it about Florida that produces the Twitter account @FloridaMan? We used to have that reputation in California of being a state like that. Not anymore. I think what's been happening is we both of been in the newspaper business. The incident that I described in the -- in his new book he mentions the same thing. It is one of those clippings that ends up on her desk. I don't know what the explanation is. It spending might lifetime explaining Florida to people. I think the whole country you up to see it. There is a stream level of dysfunction in 2000 in the presidential election. If there was any doubt that Florida was weird and more dysfunctional been California, New York it was on display for the whole world to see back then. I don't think it comes as a shock to anybody. Is something is going to go wrong in this country on a Grantsdale and any trend, it is going to start in Florida. Thank you very much for joining us today and best of luck on the rest of your book tour. Thank you. Carl Hiaasen will speak at the Kroc Center for Peace and Justice Theater tonight at 7:00. Be sure to watch KPBS evening addition at 5:00 and 6:30 tonight. Join us again tomorrow for I'm Maureen Cavanaugh -- KPBS Midday Edition at noon. If you ever miss a show you can check out the podcast at KPBS.org. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Thank you for listening.

Carl Hiassen will speak at the Kroc Center for Peace and Justice Theater on the University of San Diego campus at 7 p.m. Wednesday

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There's no getting around it, not that Carl Hiaasen would want to. Florida is one crazy state.

Hiaasen dropped by KPBS on an extended tour for "Razor Girl," his latest novel of bizarre criminal doings in our southernmost state.

"Razor Girl" begins with an unusual twist on the fender-bender insurance scam. It involves a smart, kooky, wild woman named Merry Mansfield ("like the movie star"), who launches multitudinous characters, a couple of whom are sane and sober — at least some of the time — into the vortex of the plot set in the Florida Keys.

Hiaasen saved a newspaper story on which this plot turns for many months, trying to figure out how to use it in a novel. His books generally feature con men (it is Florida, after all), strong women and insane criminal acts which often go spectacularly wrong.

Hiaasen said the women in his books are usually stronger and smarter than the men because the women in his life are the same way.

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He has been writing about Florida for the Miami Herald for some 40 years. His 14 Florida-based books are now part of a growing Florida-is-bizarre genre, which includes Dave Barry and the Twitter account @FloridaMan.

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