What would you think of if you saw a book called "Flush"? (We'll pause here while you run through your favorite potty jokes or just go "eewwww.")
Well, Carl Hiaasen has written a book for kids ages 10 and older with that title and he does want you to be grossed out. "Flush" is a mystery in which the bad guys are dumping raw sewage from a gambling boat into a harbor in the Florida Keys. But it's also a story about kids and their parents and how much family matters.
This is Hiaasen's second book for kids. He also has tons of mysteries for adults, and he has written a column in the Miami Herald newspaper for 20 years. He spoke to KidsPost's Tracy Grant about writing for kids, his love of the environment and the unusual family relationships in his book.
You've written for adults most of your life. What made you want to write for kids?
A book editor . . . asked if I'd ever thought about writing books for young readers. It hadn't even occurred to me. But the more I thought about it, the more fun I thought it would be to be able to give kids in my own family something I wrote. That was sort of how "Hoot" [his first book for kids] was born.
What do you want kids to know about the environment?
It's kind of hopeless for any writer to say, "Here's my message." With "Flush" . . . I wanted kids to see that there are places worth fighting for, wherever they might be -- Alaska, New York, Florida.
In "Flush" . . . I'm grossed out the way a kid would be. It's pretty sad when you're afraid to let [kids] go into the water.
Family relationships in this book are a little unusual -- Noah seems to father his dad more than the other way around. Why?
I've known many situations where the kids at very young ages became . . . protective of their parents. Noah and Abbey want more than anything else to keep their family together. There are lots of kids in those situations and they shouldn't feel alone.
What's your writing day like?
Chaotic. No two are the same. But I write every day. Maybe a paragraph, or maybe 1,000 words. There are plenty of good excuses not to write, but you still need the discipline to go into your room, close the door and write.
What advice do you have for kids who want to be writers?
Read, read, read. Reading is what made me want to be a writer. There were books that I couldn't put down. I wanted to be able to grab [readers] on the first page and hold them till the very last sentence. Most good writers were tremendous readers.
Sit down and write stories, write letters, do journals. Journals are great. [Writing a journal] will get you familiar with expressing yourself, putting a thought down exactly as you want it.