speaker interview | March 16, 2011

Carl Hiaasen Talks Celebrity Obsession in The New Statesman

In a recent interview in New Statesman Magazine, Carl Hiaasen discussed his latest novel Star Island and talked about the book’s inspiration, as well as the problems associated with literary sub-genres. Star Island is a satirical look (set in Florida, naturally) at the cult of celebrity in America. The protagonist, Cherry Pye, is a fictional celebrity in the mold of the Kardashians, Hiltons and Lohans of the world. The celebrated author drew his inspiration from his journalism background, where he saw massive cuts in the investigative bureaus, yet a massive boom in the popularity of celebrity writers and bloggers. Hiaasen worries that, “we’re spending more and more time and energy on the Kardashians, the Lindsay Lohans, who in another day and age would have been utterly forgettable.” Star Island is his attempt to display the absurdity of celebrity worship.

Star Island parodies America’s celebrity obsession, all set against the backdrop of Florida’s underworld. When asked if he considered himself a “crime writer”, Hiaasen pointed out the difficulty with trying to place every writer into specific literary sub-genres: “All novels are about crime. You’d be hard pressed to find any novel that does not have an element of crime. I don’t see myself as a crime novelist, but there are crimes in my books. That’s the nature of storytelling, if you want to reflect the real world.” Hiaasen is the type of writer who cannot, and should not, be pigeon-holed. Star Island, along with his other works, crosses many genre lines — mixing humor, satire, noir, suspense, mystery, and many other influences into stories with remarkable longevity.

Read more about keynote speaker Carl Hiaasen