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Monday 2.02

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Raleigh
Carl Hiaasen
Quail Ridge Books and Music—Carl Hiaasen made his name with such crime thrillers as Lucky You and Basket Case, but in the last several years, he's earned a new reputation for such acclaimed children's books as Hoot and Flush.

Like Hoot and Flush, his just-released Scat is a contemporary story that deals with children in Florida having an adventure with environmental implications. The multilayered tale includes an endangered panther and the father of one of the kids, a National Guardsman who returns from Iraq with an injury.

"There are thousands and thousands of veterans coming home with severe injuries, and you almost never read about how it affects the kids," says Hiaasen. "I think if you're writing contemporary fiction, you have to write about events that are affecting everyone's lives. And unfortunately, I was confident that we would still be deeply engaged in Iraq when the book came out, for better or for worse."

The multitalented Hiaasen, whose works co-authoring several songs with the late Warren Zevon, is next at work on a more adult novel and a pilot for HBO, along with continuing his weekly op-ed column for the Miami Herald. Hiaasen assesses the state of daily newspapers as "grim," but hopes that things will improve: "I think it's a big tragedy if we start losing daily newspapers at this time in history," he says. "I think they've always been the singular public watchdog. In a place like Miami where corruption is pandemic, you need a good, healthy, public newspaper."

He hopes that his children's books will alert kids to ecological issues, without the darker edge of his adult novels. "With a kid, you don't have to describe three divorces and a crack habit, like you do with an adult character."

Hiaasen appears at 7:30 p.m. Visit www.quailridgebooks.com for more information. —Zack Smith

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