Hiaasen delights fans at Moorings Literacy Society luncheon to benefit ELC

VERO BEACH — When Carl Hiaasen was asked by The Moorings Literary Society to speak about his latest book, Star Island, he accepted, with the request that it also be a fundraiser for the Environmental Learning Center.  Although their functions are generally limited to Moorings residents and their guests, the committee agreed, to the delight of close to 200 Hiaasen fans who attended the Monday afternoon luncheon. “I like the ELC very much.  It’s a great resource for the community and I hope this will help bring attention and notice to it,” said Hiaasen when asked about his request.  “My son and stepson went to some classes there.  It’s especially great for kids; it’s a tremendous thing for them to be able to take classes.”

The Moorings Literary Club, now in its third season, encourages diversity when planning their authors and events.  They’ve hosted such things as a cocktail hour Wine and Words event with wine expert George Taber, were taught sleight of hand card tricks by suspense writer James Swain, dined on Oysters Rockefeller while learning what it was like to be as rich as Rockefeller from Robert Dalzell and heard how Moorings resident and mystery novelist Debbie Macomber, overcame dyslexia to become a famous writer.

“We never know what the authors are going to talk about.  It’s always a surprise,” said Judy Babcock.

“The format is a little different from book clubs,” added Barbara Gervais.  “The focus is on the authors.  Rather than reading the book first, we have the author speak to the group and then give out the books.”

The Moorings Chef Michael Lander plays into the theme, cooking up something unique for each author; in this case a Star Island Mango Chicken Salad and, in honor of Cherry Pye, the Star Island “famesque” protagonist, dessert was a cherry crumble.

Welcoming everyone to the luncheon, Literary Club chair Judi Honiss gave credit for idea of the Literary Club to Moorings Club Manager Craig Lopes, who had noticed that their club library was a continual hub of activity, and to the Vero Beach Book Center for partnering with them.

“It was a huge success right off the bat,” said Honiss of the concept.

She also introduced Holly Dill, Executive Director of the Environmental Learning Center, who thanked Hiaasen and the Literacy Society for what she called a “gift out of the sky;”  noting that it was a much better gift from the sky than the devastating June, 2008 lightning bolt that resulted in the destruction of two major ELC structures.

Dill gave an update on the rebuilt facility, which now features award-winning Green construction and museum quality exhibits, and the many programs and activities they offer to the community.

Robin Honiss, self-proclaimed CEO of the Moorings’ Carl Hiaasen Fan Club, was given the honor of introducing Hiaasen to the audience.

“I’m one of his biggest fans; my wife allowed me to introduce him as an early Christmas present.”

Lamenting the ruin of Broward County where he grew up, Hiaasen recognized Vero Beach as one of the few places that seems to have learned from the mistakes made in south Florida.

He kept the crowd chuckling throughout his talk with a sprinkling of his famous, satirical humor.

Likening the writing process to a psychotherapy session he said, “I start most of my books when I’m ticked off; I’m writing with a target in mind.”

Star Island came about after reading about what he termed the “entity known as Kardashion,” and recognizing that in today’s society, no talent is necessary to become famous.  In Star Island, Hiaasen lampoons both the wannabe celebs and the paparazzi that chase after their every move.

“Fame is attributed to people of no significance,” noted Hiaasen.  “They’re elevated to a status where they’re everywhere.”

Of his characters he added, “Authors love writing about lowlifes; a good sleaze-ball is worth their weight in gold.”

At the conclusion of the luncheon, copies of the book were graciously signed by Hiaasen and given to each person. {igallery 315}

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