Award-Winning Author, Carl Hiaasen Speaks to SMA Prep Cadets

Carl Hiassen, the award-winning author of popular novels for young readers, spoke to cadets as part of SMA Prep’s Project Earth WebEx Speaker Series. Mr. Hiaasen’s books were the focus of the summer reading program at SMA Prep. Cadets were excited to hear directly from an author who many cadets have read and enjoyed for years. The well-crafted questions asked by SMA Prep cadets sought to find out about the author’s approaches to writing, his commitment to the environment as well as being a native Floridian.

hiaajaxWhen asked about the how and why of writing, Hiaasen spoke about his method and his purpose. He admitted to the developing writers that creating outlines wasn’t a tool he preferred. Focusing on character development and telling stories that will entertain his readers is some of what he enjoys most about being an author.

SMA-Cadet Jaysily, who loves to write her own stories said, “I really related to how much attention Mr. Hiaasen placed on naming his characters. It is part of what makes his books so much fun to read”. When another curious cadet asked what the author’s ultimate goal was when writing a book, Hiaasen responded, “the end, reaching the end of the book”.


Having lived in Florida his whole life, Hiaasen mentioned his ability to capture an authentic sensory experience for his readers because he has experienced these surroundings so intimately throughout his life. The author’s passion and support for the environment permeate his books. He made a connection early in his life with Florida’s unique habitat at a time before “concrete started covering everything”.

hootA highlight for many cadets was finding out that many scenes from Hiaasen’s books came from his own, real-life experiences. The author referenced the burrowing owls scenes written in his first young adult novel, Hoot, which won a Newbery Honor.

SMA-Cadet Gabriel, an 8th grader, remembered reading the scenes when he was younger saying, “the burrowing owls scenes provided a call to action showing a real-world example of how young people can make a difference”.

Thanks to Mr. Hiaasen, an incredibly down to earth and funny individual, the student-led WebEx offered SMA Prep cadets an authentic exchange with a beloved author. Many cadets said it stuck in their mind when Hiaasen simply stated, “I care about the environment and you should too”.

About Sarasota Military Academy

Founded in 2002, Sarasota Military Academy is a public charter, middle school, and high school located in Sarasota, FL. As an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, SMA provides students with a 21st-century learning experience immersed in daily military principles of honor, respect, and leadership. Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor, and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multicultural and globalized world. More information is available at

AboutThe Inspire Project Guest Speaker Series

Guest speakers changing student lives 30 minutes at a time…  a simple, individual 30-minute video conferencing session by every age, walk of life and occupation that have followed their dreams and succeeded.  The session will take place one at a time at the choosing of the participant’s availability.  The series derives its strength from the people that provide inspiration for the young students to not only believe in themselves but in their dreams. To find out more about the 2017-18 Project Earth series visit

About Project Earth

Project Earth is a student and faculty-driven collaborative effort spearheaded by Agri-Science, the Interact Club, and Project Inspire. Our goal is to become an Eco-School, a new certification backed by the National Wildlife Federation. It is a seven-step process that requires audits in twelve sustainable categories such as water consumption, energy use, and campus biodiversity. The certification would be a year-long effort that would promote environmental awareness of the cadets and a chance to lessen the carbon footprint of our school. To find out more about upcoming speakers go to Project Earth

About Carl Hiaasen

Hiaasen is the author of several popular novels for young readers: Hoot, which won a Newbery Honor, Flush, Scat and, most recently, Skink – No Surrender, which introduces one of the wildest characters in his adult books to a teen audience. Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his family. Visit for more information.