“Florida is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~Phyllis Smallman, Sleuthfest 2014
It’s no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories we can write are actually inspired by true events in our sunshine state. Join us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes with our first Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Read on, click the links below to read another member’s view of crazy Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, and enter the contest to win a Kindle Paperwhite.
First, the rules of the Florida Crazy Blog Hop say I need to introduce myself to new readers.
I was born in North Dakota. That is significant because you can’t get much further from South Florida than North Dakota. True there are many places more miles away. Culturally is another story, especially when you consider the fact I was raised there in the fifties and sixties, which would be closer in a cultural sense to the forties and fifties for you city folks.
After moving to Florida via New York City—that was a shock to my ND sensibilities—I went to nursing school. Repeatedly as a matter of fact. I didn’t stop until I’d earned my Masters. That being said, the next many, many years were consumed by nursing and hospitals.
You can click around on my website to see my credits and long bio. Thanks to my newspaper editor father, the drive to write is in my genes, but that’s not how I acquired the skills. It took Florida MWA’s educational and conference resources and all the fine writers I’ve met to help with that.
When my ex-husband (I can’t put what I call him in a family blog) and I moved to South Florida, I was delighted. I felt safer in a place where the trees were higher than the buildings. I bonded with my neighbors, got a dog, and learned that Palmetto bugs are bigger than race horses.
Seriously, the first one I saw terrified me. It was two in the morning. I suspect my screams awakened all the residents in our garden apartment building. HE said he wouldn’t kill it because HE doesn’t kill animals. I killed the damned thing and awarded HIM a new name.
An interesting thing about moving to South Florida was that a newcomer needed to live in the area awhile before longterm residents included them in their lives. The Floridians weren’t rude, just remote. When I moved here--about a lifetime ago--exclusion of newcomers was an obvious element in the social culture. For the most part, my circle of friends included other transplants. I learned the reason was that after a longtermer made room in their lives for a new person, only to have that person go home and leave them with a vacancy, they became unwilling to repeat the process with the next newcomer. After five years, I behaved the same way.
Several years ago my husband, Steve, and I moved to Tampa where we lived for a time. We returned to the south, it felt like going home. In many respects, we drove south to move north. To me Tampa has a more Southern culture, while South Florida is akin to the Northeast.
Over time, I learned there were many other things to fear in Florida. Good ole boy politics. Things that bite in the ocean. Neighborhoods I can’t walk in. Bigotry. Crime. Crooked cops. Hurricanes. Crooked politicians. Growing old. High prices. Low wages. Poverty. Not growing old. BIG bugs! Land crabs.
In fairness, the list could be edited slightly and applied to almost anywhere.
I’ve also discovered there are more things to embrace. The ocean. Diversity. Critters that wander our world such as raccoons and possums. Nursing students. Friends. Co-workers. Family. Wonderful fruit. Community spirit. Good cops. Honest politicians. Growing old. Warm weather to grown my orchids. Friendly neighbors. Adequate services. An extensive writer’s network. Convenient everything—shopping, gym, restaurants, clubs, schools, health care.
Again the list is endless.
All of these things make for a multi-faceted backdrop for living my life and writing my mysteries. I don’t have to leave home to find a wide array of interesting characters, beautiful settings, kinky news stories, or willing consultants.
It’s all good.
Read on for other members' views of Crazy Florida
Victoria Allman, Gator Bites
Miriam Auerbach, Bonkers in Boca
Diane Capri, Fishnado!
Nancy J. Cohen, Characters Too Weird to Be True
Joan Lipinsky Cochran, The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels
jd daniels He Did What?
Joy Wallace Dickinson, “In Florida, It's Great to Be a Cracker”
Linda Gordon Hengerer Crazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast
Vicki Landis, Eavesdropping 101
Sandy Parks, Keep your eyes to the Florida skies
Neil Plakcy, Moscow on the Intracoastal
Johnny Ray Utilizing Google Plus Air to Facilitate Author Interviews,
Joanna Campbell Slan, Honey, You'll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf