Writers World

10 Sarasota-Based Authors, Past and Present

Sarasota has long prided itself on its authors, some of them household names. Here are 10 who belong in our Writers’ Hall of Fame.

By Kay Kipling May 30, 2018 Published in the June 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Image: Shutterstock

John D. MacDonald, longtime Siesta Key resident who wrote the bestselling Travis McGee mystery novels, each with a color in the title. Ever prolific, MacDonald also wrote Condominium, A Flash of Green and The Executioners, filmed twice as Cape Fear.

MacKinlay Kantor, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Andersonville, about a notorious Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. He also wrote Glory for Me, which served as the basis for the award-winning film The Best Years of Our Lives.

Walter Farley, author of the beloved children’s book The Black Stallion (filmed in 1979) and many sequels to the original. He also wrote the slightly fictional “biography” of legendary racehorse Man o’ War.

Clifford Irving, whom most will remember from his claim to be writing Howard Hughes’ autobiography. Irving later wrote about that in The Hoax, but in all he published 20 novels, including Fake!, the story of art forger Elmyr de Hory, and others in a variety of genres.

Stuart Kaminsky, Edgar Award-winning mystery writer whose series included books featuring Hollywood detective Toby Peters, Chicago cop Abe Lieberman, Russian officer Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov and Sarasota-based PI Lew Fonesca. He also wrote the screenplay for Once Upon a Time in America.

John Jakes, best known for historical fiction, including his North and South trilogy (adapted into a TV miniseries in the 1980s and ’90s) and his Kent Family Chronicles. He has also branched out into science fiction and fantasy.

Joseph Hayes, playwright, novelist and screenwriter whose best-known work is The Desperate Hours, which won a Tony on Broadway and was filmed twice. He also co-wrote with wife Marrijane the novel and screenplay for the Disney film Bon Voyage.

Robert Plunket (Sarasota Magazine’s own Mr. Chatterbox), an acclaimed comic novelist whose works include My Search for Warren Harding (named by The Guardian as one of the 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read) and Love Junkie. He’s also a sometime actor who appeared in Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

Tony D’Souza, another Sarasota Magazine contributor, whose three novels Whiteman, The Konkans and Mule have received wide praise. He’s also written for The New Yorker, Esquire and other magazines. Mule has been optioned for a movie by the Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay.

Stephen King—does he really need any introduction? The mega-selling author of dozens of books (350 million sold and counting) including Carrie, Misery, Cujo, The Green Mile, etc. is a master of horror, suspense, sci-fi and fantasy who makes his home part of the year on Casey Key. 

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