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Casting The Kids
"I set out to create characters that resonated in some way with their own experience but also who were smart...smarter than the grownups in the book,” Carl Hiaasen adds. "Often in real life, your kids end up smarter than you. This was going to be a story where the kids figure it out before the grownups and the grownups don't rush in and save the day at the end. It's the kids who figure it out and save the day.”

"These are kids who came out of my own childhood,” Hiaasen explains about the impetus for the story's characters. "As a kid, I sort of put myself in Roy's position because this story is a chapter from my childhood. We had burrowing owls all over the place. Then developers came in and bulldozed all these little birds. My friends and I tried in our feeble way to discourage them with minor acts of sabotage that didn't work. I think that experience set in motion everything I've written including the grown-up novels, the newspaper columns and Hoot.

"Roy is the new kid in town,” the author elaborates about the character through whose eyes his story unfolds. "He is a character so many kids can identify with, especially in this day and age, where there's so much movement. People move around. I'd known kids like this who came from somewhere else. I wanted him, as well as the reader, to have an awakening when he comes to Florida, which he does skeptically and against his will. Coming from a very beautiful place, Montana, to discover this new world called Florida. Seeing the Everglades or the 10,000 Islands or the Keys for the very first time. The color of the water and all the different kinds of birds. I thought it would be a nice journey to take the reader on.”

"Roy's life before moving to Florida is kind of sad, because he's always moving around from place to place,” actor Logan Lerman notes about his character of Roy. "He can't stay in one place long enough to get to know the town, or get to know the people. He's gone to like eight different schools in a couple of years. He finally moves to Florida, and finds a place that he likes. He meets this runaway, Mullet Fingers, who is involved in this fight to save these owls. He tells Roy about it, and Roy wants to get involved. And there is this guy named Curly who runs the construction site, and Mullet Fingers and Roy sabotage it, trying to get Curly to stop doing whatever's he doing. It's pretty cool.”

"Mullet Fingers is a kid who doesn't fit in anywhere,” Hiaasen jumps in about the teenage runaway who initiates the fight to save the owls. "I get so much mail about that character because sometimes kids feel they also don't belong. It's vital for any kind of writing that the readers identify and plug into the characters. I always knew that they would like Mullet Fingers because he is an outsider but also a survivor. He lives alone out in the woods and he gets along just fine. It wasn't a surprise that, like me, they were going to be fond of that character.”

Seasoned sixteen-year-old actor Cody Linley was also fond of his character, saying "I saw Mullet Fingers as a wild child who's also a caring person. He's hard to explain because he's a different character than anybody else. He's not like a regular kid. His best friends are the owls and the animals that he lives with. He doesn't talk to anybody else except for Beatrice, his step-sister, because he's afraid of getting hurt because his mom hates him, she even sent him away to several military schools. So he has trouble trusting people. Then Roy comes along and once he gets to know him, he starts to trust him. And it's cool that he gets to have that friendship with Roy because Roy cares about him. He's a wild, cool kid who loves nature and runs around barefoot. I thought that was one of the coolest things about him.”

"His stepsister helps him out, but he's out there by himself,” Hiaasen augments about Beatrice, the only other character Mullet Finge

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