Dive into the Neon-soaked Alligator-infested World of 1980s Florida: Author Paul Wilborn Unleashes 'Florida Hustle,' a Darkly Humorous Coming-of-Age Adventure Available Now on Audiobook. Following the Success of 'Cigar City,' Wilborn's Latest Masterpiece Ranks as Amazon/Audible's No. 1 New Release in Absurdist Fiction. Brace Yourself for a Rollercoaster Ride through Excess, Humor, and Thrills, as Wilborn's Critically Acclaimed Writing Takes Center Stage in this Unforgettable Tale."
EG: Paul, thank you so much for joining us in this interview. In the industry, everyone has a story. In a few words, describe yours?
Paul: I'm a writer with a music habit. I made a living for 23 years as a journalist, but all that time I was playing piano and singing in bands. Now, I run a live music venue and write books on the side.
EG: Congratulations on the success of your new coming-of-age novel, 'Florida Hustle,' which has received praise both as a traditional book and in its audiobook format. Could you share the inspiration behind writing this delightful and engaging story?
Paul: It started as a screenplay when I was living in Los Angeles. What if everyone thinks a young guy is going to do something terrible, but he's just incredibly misunderstood? Also, a lot of my actor friends died in cheap slasher movies in the '80s, and I thought that would be a fun backdrop for a book. My main character doesn't want to kill his favorite scream queen; he just wants to give her better death scenes.
EG: As a native of Florida, your firsthand experience must have influenced the authenticity of the scenes in 'Florida Hustle.' Could you elaborate on your research process? Did your familiarity with the state minimize the research compared to if you had set the book in a location like Maryland or Georgia?
Paul: All my books are set in Florida, where I grew up and spent much of my journalism career. I was lucky enough to get paid to roam the state finding stories. So I used all those backdrops and many of the places I had visited in 'Florida Hustle' - Palm Beach, The Cypress Knee Museum, the Everglades, etc. Sadly, a lot of the places I loved in Florida are gone or overrun with new development.
EG: In terms of themes, how does 'Florida Hustle' compare to your previous novel, 'Cigar City'? What similarities and differences can readers expect between the two?
Paul: They are both coming-of-age books. 'Cigar City' was about an artists' enclave where I lived in Tampa. All the main characters are in their 20s, a time when you aren't quite an adult but no longer a kid. You see them figuring out their life. In 'Florida Hustle,' my main character is a sheltered 17-year-old who has fled his Palm Beach home and discovers a lot about the adult world as he tries to get face-to-face with his scream queen, who is shooting a slasher movie in the Everglades.
EG: What message or impression do you hope readers will carry with them after finishing 'Florida Hustle'? What do you want them to take away from the story?
Paul: So much of the entertainment we consume divides the world into heroes and villains. But life really happens in between those two poles. The characters in 'Florida Hustle' manage to be good and bad in just about equal measure, like most of us.
EG: Can you provide any hints about your upcoming projects? Have you begun plotting a new novel, and if so, can you share a glimpse of what readers might expect?
Paul: I'm doing a final edit on a full-length novel. I don't write with a plan or an outline, so this book is not the one I set out to write. But it's become a novel about an 85-year-old former mobster and his young bodyguard, who happens to be a writer. What I've ended up with is kind of a cross between a mobster book and a coming-of-age book.
EG: What is your current favorite audiobook or book that you're reading or listening to these days? Any recommendations for your readers?
Paul: I just finished a great new novel, 'The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store,' by James McBride, which I highly recommend. I also have been doing research for my new book by reading a lot of classic detective fiction. I recommend reading 'The Maltese Falcon' and 'The Big Sleep.'
EG: How can everyone find you on social media?
Paul: I'm on Instagram @paulwilborn1 and Facebook. I also write a funny newsletter once a month; I encourage people to sign up at my website: www.wilbornwrites.com.