Friday, December 29, 2017

Book Bites: Craig Pittman, author of Oh, Florida!

Book Bites: Short and Sweet Interviews for Readers on the Go

Today, I bring you an interview with Craig Pittman- Tampa Bay Times reporter, author of Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country and our resident guru on all things weird, wild and wonderful about Florida (mostly the weird stuff, though). If you've ever wondered why my hometown state is, well, the way it is, Pittman's Oh, Florida! can help you out. Or, at the very least, confirm your suspicions that we're all a little nutty down here in the Sunshine State...
"Oh, Florida! is hilarious, creepy, and sobering. Craig Pittman makes the compelling argument that all of America is being warped by Florida's off-the-chart weirdness, which we eagerly export. This book should be required reading for anyone who's ever thought about moving down here, with or without a concealed weapons permit."―Carl Hiaasen
What attracted you to the genre you write in?

I write non-fiction because my day job as a reporter means I'm constantly stumbling over great stories that are also true stories. People think of non-fiction as these great massive deadly-dull tomes, but writers have a lot more freedom these days to be quirky and down-to-earth when telling true stories. I structured The Scent of Scandal to read like a mystery, with short sentences, short chapters and a teaser at the end of each chapter. In Oh, Florida! I wove in bits of memoir and bad puns while telling stories about Florida history and culture.

Are there any writers you’re jealous of?

Yes, the ones who have the time and energy to produce two books a year.

Were they any parts of your book that were edited out, but which you miss terribly?

My original manuscript for Oh, Florida! was 100 pages longer than the one that wound up being published. My editor said she liked the material but the book was just too long, so I had to cut some things. Out went the Skunk Ape. Out went the guy who claimed he had a love affair with a dolphin. Out went a bunch of other stuff that didn't fit exactly with the theme of the chapters. Of course when I go out and talk about the book, there's always one person in the crowd who asks about one of the things I left out.

How do you handle writer’s block?

I think about my mortgage and my kid's college expenses. Clears it right up.

What piece of your own writing are you most proud of?

This year I wrote a story for the Times that I think is the definitive "iguanas pop up in Florida toilets" story. I interviewed a professional iguana trapper who has written a cookbook called Save Florida, Eat An Iguana. I expect to hear from the Pulitzer committee any day now.

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