Author Carl Hiaasen on 'Chomp'

The Takeaway
Carl Hiaasen  is a  best-selling, award-winning novelist, a columnist for the Miami Herald, and our pre-eminent articulator of all things Florida – that most confounding and fascinating of states, both politically and culturally. His new young adult novel "Chomp" focuses on Wahoo Cray, who lives in a zoo and whose animal wrangler father gets a job on the survivalist reality TV show "Expedition Survival!," hosted by an overzealous and incompetent danger-seeker. To many Americans, Florida remains one of the most confounding and fascinating states in the country … both culturally and politically. And since the 2000 presidential election … with the chad debacle, the Supreme Court decision … Florida has become much MORE than just another swing state–it seems like a place where, politically, practically anything can happen, and nothing can be taken for granted. The 2008 Democratic primary … where Clinton won, but her delegates didn't count because the date of the primary violated DNC rules … only confirmed this. More recently, of course, the state has gained attention for its Stand Your Ground law … At least 20 other states have similar laws, which allows people to use deadly force if they believe they're doing so in self-defense. But when the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26 and his killer, George Zimmerman, escaped charges by invoking the law, it gained new scrutiny … And Florida itself has been at the center of much of this debate. With us now is Carl Hiaasen, the best-selling novelist, columnist for the Miami Herald, and pre-eminent articulator of all things Floridian. He is the author of the new young adult novel "Chomp."Carl Hiaasen To many Americans, this probably doesn't seem like too far-fetched a depiction of Florida. Politically, it's unique among the country's swing states: it's where chads are lost, where delegates sometimes aren't counted, and where the Whig Party still exists. And in the American imagination, it remains perched somewhere between the place where our nation's elders go to retire and the near-lawless territory of alligators, swampland, and stand-your-ground laws.