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How ‘Florida Hustle’ Masterfully Unveils a Cinematic Odyssey Through 1980s Florida’s B-Movie Realm

1980s Florida's B-Movie Realm


The ’80s were a time of big hair, neon fashion, and a film industry churning out hundreds of copy-cat slasher films. It was also an era of emerging talents, where the film-making dreams were often fueled by a passion for the bizarre and the imaginative. Paul Wilborn’s novel, “Florida Hustle,” takes us on a thrilling journey through this vibrant decade, set in the sultry and unpredictable landscape of Florida.

In this blog, we will explore the book, its author, and the mesmerizing world it unveils. “Florida Hustle” offers a tantalizing glimpse into the eccentric, sun-soaked realm of Florida, where characters and unique cultures collide in a whirlwind of adventure, intrigue, and unexpected alliances. Through the lens of Wilborn’s storytelling, we’ll traverse the neon-lit pathways of the entertainment industry and the pulsating beat of a decade where imagination knew no bounds.

A Glimpse into the Book

“Florida Hustle” transports its readers to the quirky, sun-soaked setting of 1980s Florida. At the center of the story is Michael Donnelly, a young aspiring filmmaker who dreams of creating a masterpiece starring Dawn Karston, a teen scream queen known for her gruesome roles in low-budget horror films. But Michael’s obsession with Dawn takes a dark turn, as his efforts to get her attention begin to resemble something far more sinister than admiration.

As Dawn gears up for her new project, “Swamp Fiend 2,” set to be shot in the Florida Everglades, Michael’s family decides to have him locked in a high-rent mental hospital for the duration of her shoot. Determined to make his dream a reality, Michael flees his family’s Palm Beach mansion and embarks on a wild adventure, with an  aging con man and his ambitious, street-smart girlfriend. Unbeknownst to Michael, these new companions have their own obsessions and ulterior motives.

The novel captures the essence of an era when the United States was under the leadership of a celebrity president and the horror genre was experiencing a surge in popularity, with franchises like “Friday the 13th” paving the way for a slew of slasher film imitators. Florida itself was undergoing a transformation, evolving from a budget-friendly vacation destination into a sprawling mega-state, famous for its Disney theme parks, Seminole Indian casinos, and a thriving B-movie industry.

Meet the Author – Paul Wilborn!

Before we dive any deeper into the intriguing world of “Florida Hustle,” let’s get to know the author behind this captivating tale.

Paul Wilborn, a native of Tampa, Florida, is an accomplished writer and journalist. He has collected multiple awards from prestigious organizations such as the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors during his journalism career. His writing prowess and dedication to storytelling are evident through his accolades, including the Green Eyeshade Award from the Atlanta Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi and the Paul Hansel Award, Florida’s top journalism prize.

Wilborn’s talents extend beyond the written word. He’s also a musician, having led several bands, including “Paul Wilborn and the Pop Tarts” and “Blue Roses.” His role as a producer of the long-running American Songbook Series at American Stage showcases his multifaceted creative skills.

In addition to his journalistic and musical achievements, Paul Wilborn is an accomplished playwright, with his works gracing stages at Stageworks, Off-Center Theater, Radio Theater Project, and the University of Michigan.

The Creative Hub of Ybor City

In the 1980s, Paul Wilborn was a founding member of Ybor City’s Artists and Writers Group. This dynamic collective organized numerous themed art and music events in Tampa’s historic district. Ybor City’s rich history and cultural diversity served as a wellspring of inspiration for artists like Wilborn. It’s no surprise that this period and place provided fertile ground for his creative endeavors.

The Award-Winning “Cigar City: Tales From a 1980s Creative Ghetto”

Before “Florida Hustle,” Paul Wilborn gained recognition for his short story collection, “Cigar City: Tales From a 1980s Creative Ghetto.” The book received the Gold Medal for Fiction in the 2019 Florida Book Awards. It’s a captivating work that delves into the lives and loves of young bohemians during the 1980s.

Florida Hustle – A Novel Set in South Florida

“Florida Hustle” is Paul Wilborn’s latest nonfiction history book, promising readers an unforgettable journey into the heart of 1980s Florida. With its compelling characters, intricate plot, and vivid portrayal of the era’s cultural backdrop, this novel is a must-read for anyone interested in the blend of nostalgia, suspense, and cinematic allure. Wilborn’s narrative prowess intertwines the pulse of the time with the allure of the Sunshine State, offering a captivating tale that immerses readers in a world where intrigue, ambition, and the essence of an era collide in an irresistible narrative mosaic.


In a world where passion can quickly turn into obsession, and dreams may lead to unexpected adventures, “Florida Hustle” is the perfect story to encapsulate the spirit of the 1980s. Paul Wilborn’s expertise as a writer, journalist, musician, and playwright enriches this novel, ensuring a rich and engaging narrative.

As you step into the pages of “Florida Hustle,” be prepared to travel back in time to an era of neon lights, cinematic fantasies, and a Florida unlike any other. Join Michael Donnelly on his quest to make his dreams come true, even if it means diving headfirst into a swamp of competing cons and hustles.

Whether you’re a fan of the ’80s, cinematic intrigue, or simply a good, old-fashioned page-turner, “Florida Hustle” offers an experience that is not to be missed. Paul Wilborn’s storytelling prowess shines through, making this novel a suspenseful and humorous journey into a bygone era of Florida’s B-movie magic.

So, grab a copy of “Florida Hustle,” immerse yourself in its captivating world, and get ready for a ride through the land of sunshine, secrets, and cinematic dreams. It’s a literary adventure you won’t want to miss — a journey that intertwines nostalgia, suspense, and the vibrant spirit of an unforgettable era.

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