South Florida may not exactly have the brainiest reputation -- but those of us in the area's intellectual trenches know that it's not all beach bimbos here. In fact, the pleasant weather and peaceful shoreline vistas may well be making the population collectively smarter.
Besides our rising homegrown literary talents, the stretch of Sunshine State from Monroe County up north to Palm Beach is increasingly welcoming acclaimed authors from afar. Several large handfuls of leading writers now call South Florida home, whether full or at least part time. (We'll gladly take smart snowbirds!)
Here's a list of nine, but that's just the beginning of a series in which we'll try to dig up more critically acclaimed, word-wielding full- and part-time citizens. Please share any more we should add in the comments!
Judy Blume: The author of young adult classics like Blubber and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret spends winters with her husband in Key West. There, she serves on the board of the Key West Literary Seminar.
Irvine Welsh: He's best known for Trainspotting, and soon, for Filth, which has been adapted into a forthcoming film starring James McAvoy, Welsh splits his time between Chicago and Miami Beach. He even set his 2008 novel, Crime, largely in South Florida.
James Patterson: When he's not penning the latest best-selling crime thrillers like those in his Alex Ross series, he's working on his multimillion-dollar estate in Palm Beach.
Richard Florida: With that coincidental name, would there really be anywhere else this intellectual could wind up? The writer who wrote the landmark work, The Rise of the Creative Class, moved here part-time last year to spend winters on South Beach with his wife.
Stuart Woods: Add this prolific penner of top-selling thriller series to the list of successful writers who winter in Key West.
Laurence Leamer: This Chicago native made his name with a number of deeply researched, journalistic books and biographies, including a trilogy on the Kennedys. he and his wife split their time between Washington D.C. and Palm Beach. The latter's societal intrigue became the subject of his 2009 book, Madness Under the Royal Palms: Love and Death Behind the Gates of Palm Beach.
James Gleick: This journalist and biographer has racked up three Pulitzer Prize and National Book Awards finalist nods, as well as a PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award win last year. When he's not adding awards to his resume, he, too, lives in Key West.
Diana Abu Jaber: This Jordanian-American memoirist and novelist splits her time between Portland and Miami. She's also ventured south, dutifully, to participate in the Key West Literary Seminar.
Brad Meltzer: We can kind of claim this author of top-selling thrillers and comics as a home-grown success story. Though he was born in Brooklyn, he moved to Miami with his family as a child, where he grew up before leaving to attend the University of Michigan and later Columbia Law. As an adult, he moved back to Miami with his wife.