A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the paper's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team. Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column, which at one time or another has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses.
He has outlasted almost all of them, and his column still appears on most Sundays in The Herald's opinion-and-editorial section. It may be viewed online at MiamiHerald.com or in the actual printed edition of the newspaper, which, miraculously, is still being published.
For his journalism and commentary, Hiaasen has received numerous honors, including the Damon Runyon Award from the Denver Press Club and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
Hiaasen’s work has also appeared in many well-known magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Time, Life, Esquire and, most improbably, Gourmet.
In the early 1980s, he began writing novels with his good friend and a distinguished journalist, the late William D. Montalbano. Together they produced three mystery thrillers -- Powder Burn, Trap Line and A Death in China -- which borrowed heavily from their own reporting experiences.
Tourist Season, published in 1986, was Hiaasen's first solo novel. GQ magazine called it "one of the 10 best destination reads of all time," although it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida. His next effort, Double Whammy, was the first (and possibly the only) novel about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing circuit.
Since then, Hiaasen has published Skin Tight, Native Tongue and eight national bestsellers -- Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, Nature Girl and, most recently, Star Island.
Hiaasen made his children's book debut with Hoot (2002), which was awarded a Newbery Honor and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller lists. For young readers he went on to write Flush (2005) and Scat (2009). Chomp, a new novel for young readers, was published by Knopf in early 2012.
The film version of Hoot was released in 2006, directed by Wil Shriner and produced by Jimmy Buffett and Frank Marshall. ("Hoot" is now available on DVD). Buffett plays a teacher in the movie, while the author himself makes a cameo appearance.
Hiaasen is also responsible for Team Rodent (1998), a wry but unsparing rant against the Disney empire and its creeping grip on the American entertainment culture. In 2008, Hiaasen came back to nonfiction with The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport. The book chronicles his harrowing and ill-advised reacquaintance with golf after a tranquil 32-year absence.
Together, Hiaasen's novels have been published in 34 languages, which is 33 more than he is able to read or write. Still, he has reason to believe that all the foreign translations are brilliantly faithful to the original work. The London Observer has called him "America's finest satirical novelist," while Janet Maslin of the New York Times has compared him to Preston Sturges, Woody Allen and S.J. Perelman.
To prove that he doesn't just make up all the sick stuff in his fiction, Hiaasen has also published two collections of his newspaper columns, Kick Ass and Paradise Screwed, both courageously edited by Diane Stevenson and faithfully kept in print by the University Press of Florida. In 2011, the Florida Humanities Council presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing.
One of Hiaasen's most well-known novels, Strip Tease, became a major motion-picture in 1996 starring Demi Moore, and directed by Andrew Bergman. Despite what some critics said, Hiaasen continues to insist that the scene featuring Burt Reynolds slathered from his neck to his toes with Vaseline is one of the golden moments in modern American cinema.