Photo by Joe Rimkus Jr.

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives.

A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a city-desk reporter and went on to work for the newspaper’s weekly magazine and prize-winning investigations team.

From 1985 to 2021 he wrote a regular opinion column, which at one time or another thrashed just about every major politician in the state -- and occasionally his own bosses. One of Hiaasen's proudest moments came when a Miami City Commissioner who was enraged by the columns introduced a resolution officially denouncing him.

Hiaasen began writing novels in early 1980s with his good friend and fellow journalist, the late William D. Montalbano. They collaborated on three mystery thrillers – Powder Burn, Trap Line and Death in China – which borrowed heavily from their 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,” though it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida. His next effort, Double Whammy, was the first (and possibly only) novel ever written about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing tour.

Since then, Hiaasen has published Skin Tight, Native Tongue and eleven national bestsellers – Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, Nature Girl, Star Island, Bad Monkey, Razor Girl, and his latest, Squeeze Me, which opened at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List. All the novels are set in Florida, where they are read more as documentary than fiction.

Hiaasen is also responsible for several popular novels for young readers: His first, Hoot, won a Newbery Honor and was made into a feature film starring Brie Larson, Luke Wilson and Logan Lerman. It was directed by Wil Shriner, and produced by Jimmy Buffett and Frank Marshall. Buffett plays a teacher in the movie, while the author himself makes an awkward cameo for which he has deservedly received exactly 35 cents in acting royalties.

Hiaasen's other books for young readers include Flush, Scat, Chomp and Skink, which introduced one of his wildest characters to a teen audience. His latest middle-grade novel, Squirm, takes place in both Florida and Montana, an entire state with half as many people as Miami-Dade County.

In addition to the novels, Hiaasen has authored several nonfiction books. The first, Team Rodent, is a wry but unsparing rant against the Disney empire and its grip on American culture. In 2008 he wrote The Downhill Lie, which chronicles his ill-advised return to the sport of golf after a “much-needed” 32-year hiatus.

In 2018 he published Assume the Worst -- The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear, which was illustrated by the artist Roz Chast , whose work regularly appears in The New Yorker.

Together, Hiaasen's books have been published in 34 languages, which is 33 more than he can read or write. 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 and S.J. Perelman.

To prove he doesn’t just make up all the whacked-out scenarios in his novels, Hiaasen has also published three collections of his newspaper columns, Kick Ass, Paradise Screwed , and Dance of the Reptiles. All these volumes were heroically edited by the late Diane Stevenson.

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. He retired from the Herald in March 2021.

His nonfiction work has appeared in many magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Time, Esquire and, most improbably, Gourmet.

One of Hiaasen's best-known novels, Strip Tease, was turned into a major motion picture starring Demi Moore, and directed by Andrew Bergman. Hiaasen still maintains that the Vaseline scene featuring Burt Reynolds in cowboy boots is a classic moment in American cinema.


Read Carl's columns in the Miami Herald.