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A book to give a Hoot about

June 11th, 2006 by Paul Martin

One of the most popular family movies in theatres right now is Hoot, the story of a young man who moves from Montana to Florida with his family, where he’s compelled to engage in a fight to protect a population of endangered owls. Booklist magazine recently spoke with Hiaasen. The following are excerpts from that interview.

By Maureen Kuch
Jun 11 2006

One of the most popular family movies in theatres right now is Hoot, the story of a young man who moves from Montana to Florida with his family, where he’s compelled to engage in a fight to protect a population of endangered owls.

The movie is based on the highly acclaimed book by Carl Hiaasen, a Florida native known for his quirky characters and satirical mysteries set in his home state.

Published in 1986, his first novel, Tourist Season, failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida, according to the self-deprecating author, who is a columnist at the Miami Herald.

In 2002 he wrote his first young adult novel, Hoot, which won several awards. He followed that up with Flush, which also received rave reviews.

Booklist magazine recently spoke with Hiaasen. The following are excerpts from that interview. If you have children or teens who have read and/or seen Hoot, please share with them:

Booklist: How much creative input did you have in the movie version of Hoot?

Hiaasen: I was involved a lot. They sent me every single draft of the script, and I would make notes in the margins and give plot and dialogue suggestions. By necessity, the movie can’t be identical to the novel.

Booklist: Is the humour of the book retained?

Hiaasen: Yes, there are some funny scenes that remain from the book, and some new scenes that were put in the movie. No matter what happens at the box office, I know that everyone killed themselves to keep it as true to the book as they could. And that doesn’t happen very often in Hollywood.

Booklist: Hoot deals with an environmental theme. Do you think kids are more open to hearing a message?

Hiaasen: Well, they haven’t been jaded yet, and they still can look around and see the natural world as a place to be shared and not exploited. Hoot’s recurring theme is the saving of owls. To a kid, there is not ambiguity about whether it is right or wrong. You don’t run a bulldozer over another living creature. And that’s what they did when I was a kid. Watching that with my friends made us very angry and still provides the fuel for what I write about today.

Booklist: What makes Florida such a great setting?

Hiaasen: There is a surplus of weirdness here. You don’t have to troll very far to get inspiration. Pick up any newspaper in the state, and the police blotter is a novel waiting to be written. There’s an abundance of characters, good and bad.

Booklist: What can you tell us about your next novel?

Hiaasen: I’m in the last painful thrashes of a new adult novel called Nature Girl, which should be released later this year. I’m very superstitious and jinxed about revealing anything until I’m done with it. I will say it’s a little different. It’s set on 10,000 islands, located off the extreme southwest coast of Florida.

[The Morning Star]