Q. There’s a very, um, interesting fender bender that kicks off RAZOR GIRL–what inspired it? Even by your standards it’s out there.
A. Years ago there was a car accident in the Florida Keys involving a woman who was shaving her “bikini area” while driving down U.S. Highway One. Apparently this is just as dangerous as texting while driving. One of my sons sent me the newspaper story and I spent a long time trying to figure out how to tastefully work the concept into a novel. So, that’s how RAZOR GIRL starts.
Q. The book revolves around some of your wildest characters to date. Let’s start with Merry Mansfield, the Razor Girl herself. She’s relentless, hilarious, and disarmingly charming. What made you want to base a novel around a female character like her?
A. I’ve always liked strong female characters who were smarter than the men in their lives–Erin in STRIP TEASE, JoLayne in LUCKY YOU, Honey Santana in NATURE GIRL, to name a few. But I’d have to say Merry Mansfield is my new favorite. She’s cool, very clever and totally unflappable. As I was writing this book she did all kinds of wild things to surprise me, which made it fun.
Q. Buck Nance is a redneck reality star in the Duck Dynasty mold, and a total fraud. What inspired you to write about such a character, and what do you make of the fact that, as you write in the novel, the “election of a black president brought a boom in TV reality shows featuring feisty rednecks”?
A. Being from the South, I’m fascinated by American’s fascination with redneck culture. I mean, one of the Duck Dynasty dudes spoke at the Republican convention! That sort of thing makes the job of a satirist extremely challenging, because how can you improve on real life when it’s reached this level of absurdity?
Q. Florida’s eroding shoreline plays a role here-one of the characters, Martin Trebeaux, is the owner of a company called “Sedimental Journeys” which supplies sand to replenish beaches( in his case, by stealing from other beaches). With sea levels rising, is this a growing business opportunity for your fellow statesmen?
A. The business of “beach renourishment”-which sounds more eco-friendly than “beach replacement”-has been around for decades in Florida and other coastal states. Beachfront property is the most valuable real-estate, so huge sums are expended to stop natural erosion. Which, of course, can’t be stopped. And now, with climate change, the process has been accelerated and the shorelines are receding faster than ever. Trebeaux’s problem is finding enough clean white sand to replace what’s being lost, so he simply starts swiping it from other beaches. It seems like a perfect Florida Scam, and I’m sure somebody’s already doing it in real life.
Q. Andre Yancey returns in RAZOR GIRL, though he’s still trying to work his way back into the good graces of the sheriff and get off of roach patrol. This time, the restaurant pests are Gambian rats, which you say in the author’s note are real. Ever seen one in the flesh? Where and when?
A. I’ve never seen a giant Gambian pouched rat in the Keys, but they are definitely real. Somebody was breeding them as pets, and then set them loose. I’d love to see one in the flesh, if the pythons don’t find them first.
Carl Hiaasen is one of the funniest guys I know. And then you have Dave Barry with his new book, BEST STATE EVER. He writes about some of this stuff that Hiaasen brings up in his book. And he expands on it. Really. And Dave’s is all non-fiction….
If you’re up for laughing your head off, get yourself a copy of RAZOR GIRL and BEST STATE EVER.