New from St. Petersburg Press!

Florida Hustle

Paul Wilborn

In 1980s Florida, an aspiring filmmaker, obsessed with a B-movie scream queen, flees his family’s Palm Beach mansion, teams up with an aging con man and his ambitious girlfriend and heads to a film set in the Everglades, only to find himself mired in a swamp of competing cons and hustles.








Meet the Author

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Paul Wilborn

A native of Tampa, Paul Wilborn collected multiple awards from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors during a journalism career that included stints at the Tampa Tribune, The St. Petersburg Times and the Associated Press in Los Angeles. He won the Green Eyeshade Award from the Atlanta Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the South’s top writing prize. Based on a selection of his writing, Wilborn was chosen for the Paul Hansel Award, Florida’s top journalism prize. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

His plays have been produced at Stageworks, Off-Center Theater, Radio Theater Project and University of Michigan.

A pianist and singer, he has led several bands including Paul Wilborn and the Pop Tarts and Blue Roses. He produced the long-running American Songbook Series at American Stage.

In the 1980s, Wilborn was a founding member of Ybor City’s Artists and Writers Group, which created multiple themed art and music events in the Tampa’s historic district.

Cigar City: Tales From a 1980s Creative Ghetto is Wilborn’s debut short story collection. The book won the Gold Medal for Fiction in the 2019 Florida Book Awards. He recently completed Trickle Down, a novel set in South Florida.

Wilborn is executive director of the Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College and lives in Saint Petersburg with his wife, the film actor Eugenie Bondurant.

Advance Praise for Florida Hustle

“…Relentlessly clever plot… It’s an antic, very Floridian tale, populated with larger-than-life characters and full of Carl Hiaasen–style dry humor and Elmore Leonard–style sharp descriptions. The characters all have penchants for funny one-liners, and a kind of zany logic binds their very strange separate worlds. Wilborn packs a lot of fun and human insight into a slim number of pages.
An irrepressible Florida frolic filled with lost dreams, forlorn love, and horror movie lore.”

"An irrepressible Florida frolic"

Kirkus – starred review

“If you’re a fan of Hiassen, Dorsey and other practitioners of the rollicking Florida Escapade genre, I bring good news: there’s a new, wholly original voice you won’t want to miss. In his first novel, Florida Hustle, former journalist Paul Wilborn takes us on a thoroughly entertaining romp through upper-crust Palm Beach to the seedy side of West Palm to the swampiest of the Everglades. Filled with plenty of twists and turns, it brims with a cast of misfits and miscreants, including seventeen-year-old Michael Donnelly, whose obsession with a slasher film star prompts his father to try to lock him in a psychiatric hospital before he becomes another John Hinkley Jr, relentless-but-lovable con man Cavanaugh Reilly and ambitious seductress Lola Fernandez Famosa. Florida Hustle has a lot of fun with its oddball characters but never looks down on them, making this a novel with a ton of heart.”

"A new, wholly original voice you won't want to miss."

 Jane Heller, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

"Wickedly funny."

 Natalie Symons, author of Lies In Bone

“Masterfully crafted and wickedly funny, Paul Wilborn’s delightfully dark, comic adventure glitters with witty dialogue and crisp, clever prose. Wilborn’s tale of offbeat outsiders in search, in flight, and in love is an acerbic, delicious treat featuring the magnificent swampland of Florida in all its quirky glory.”

"As authentic as it gets."

Steph Post, author of Miraculum, Lightwood, Walk in the Fire, Holding Smoke and A Tree Born Crooked

“Steeped in 1980s film and horror culture and basking in Palm Beach’s neon glow, Paul Wilborn’s rollicking ride of a novel – Florida Hustle – is fully immersive, wildly entertaining and as authentic as it gets.”

"A romp with heart."

John Capouya, author of Florida Soul and Gorgeous George

“Florida Hustle begins with an imagined screenplay, and the entire story is camera-ready (be alert, streaming services). The hues of Wilborn’s home state suffuse the setting; the action is rapid and the plot twists many. Most important, he’s created characters who continually surprise us with their complexity as well as their doings. It’s entertaining and more — a romp with heart.”

"A romp with heart."

Tom Flynn Screenwriter of Gifted and Togo

“Vivid characters. Delicious dialogue. A smart, funny, wild ride you won’t be able to put down. Love, love, love this book.”

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