In this episode we chat about Craig Pittman’s new book Cat Tale, then play state animal trivia, and talk to Craig about panthers, pythons, politicians, and many other topics (that don’t necessarily start with a “p”).
Read more from Craig:
Craig’s story in Flamingo “Hunting Pythons with the Ladies of the Glades”
Oh, Florida! : How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country
Cat Tale Chat!
This book is so full of characters. I don’t mean there’s so many characters you can’t figure out who’s who; the people are characters because they are so eccentric. A lot of the characters become obsessed with panthers, and they devote their whole life to them. – Tyler
I could picture [the panther tracker guy]. I’m a very Merry Widow that wants to remain a very Merry Widow. But he kind of made my toes curl. – Gramel
Let me tell you, I love hate politics. And there was a lot of politics in this. Good people, basically. And the good ones were not politicians. They say love makes the world go round, but I think it’s money. – Gramel
When a panther killed something, it became a carcass. They ate what they wanted, and it took them a few days to do that. And then other critters began marching up to the carcass. The critters we think are cute to ones we don’t think our cute and then it goes down to the insects. Then, the remains actually go into the ground and soil enriches the soil. – Gramel
There’s a lot of Florida natural history in it, but there’s also a lot of drama. You’re getting drama, you’re getting facts about the state and the environment. I read the book in a day. – Tyler
Animal State Trivia!
Manatees are heavy set and joyful. – Gramel
Dolphins are cute little showoffs because they know people love them. – Gramel
The American alligator was designated the state’s reptile in 1987.
That’s the year you were born!
Exactly why I’m kind of obsessed with them.
Chat with Craig Pittman!
On Florida readers: Two-thirds of Florida’s population comes from somewhere else, so the odds are somebody picking up a book knows someone in Florida or has been to Florida or goes there on a regular basis. – Craig Pittman
On process: The process I usually follow when I’m writing a book is I’ll sit down an outline that do like a rough outline in the very beginning and I’ll try and have like 18 or 19 points, you know, one for each chapter and say, okay, in this chapter, I’m going to say this, and this chapter, I’m going to say that, and then I’ll go back and outline each chapter, how each chapter is going to go. Then, I sit down and just start writing it from the beginning. Like it’s a series of 19 or 20 feature stories for a weekend addition to the paper, which is something I’ve done for 30 or 40 years. You look for some connective tissue so that you can make a transition from one chapter to the next. And that’s something I’ve learned from reading. I read a lot of thrillers; they know keep your reading. I’ve kind of stolen some ideas from thrillers about how to get people to keep going on with the book. – Craig
On his wife reading his work: I’m not gonna say [my wife and I] have this a similar sense of humor, but we have a very simpatico senses of humor. On our third date we sat and watched a videotape of Bugs Bunny cartoons. – Craig Pittman
On his python story in Flamingo: I just did a big piece for Flamingo magazine about the women who hunt pythons because there are quite a few that do that. And I picked six and interviewed them and they were all very interesting characters with different backgrounds. The one who actually caught the most pythons male or female is this 61 year old ceramics teacher from South Florida. And I asked her what her secret was to catching a snake. She said, there’s no secret. You just have to show up, you go out and she goes out almost every night looking for snakes. And that’s why she’s been so successful – Craig Pittman
On Where to See a Ghost Orchid: At Corkscrew Swamp, I finally got to see a ghost orchid which I’d never seen. It’s very rare type of orchid, and they have one called a super ghost orchid because it puts out five or six blooms at a time and they last through the summer and all the way into the fall in some cases. It’s about 100 feet off their boardwalk. If you got binoculars or something, you can see it clear as day. – Craig Pittman
On the Environment and Economy: It’s just blindingly obvious that in Florida, I think more than any other state, the environment is the economy. And if you screw up the environment, you’re going to screw up the economy. – Craig Pittman
On the Florida Phoenix: “I would encourage people to check out the Florida Phoenix, which is a feisty publication run by experienced Florida journalists. They do some excellent work and have some great columnists.”
Florida Survival Tip #1: If you if you step on a sand spur, lick your fingers before you try to remove it. – Craig Pittman
Florida Survival Tip #2: The best parking space is not the one closest to the store; it’s the one that’s in the shade.