Standiford's books include the John Deal mystery series, Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America and several historical narratives, such as The Man Who Invented Christmas and Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed an Ocean. He is the founding director of the creative writing program at Florida International University where, since 1985, he has helped launch novelists such as Dennis Lehane, Barbara Parker and Patricia Engel. Standiford is also a screenwriting fellow and graduate of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and a recipient of the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and the National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in fiction. We caught up with him after his recent visit to Eckerd College, where he was a featured author at the 10th annual Writers in Paradise writing conference.
What's on your nightstand?
For a project I'm working on, I'm reading Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (by Marc Reisner). It's an interesting book about water politics — how important water is to the development and economics of the West. I'm also reading James W. Hall's Going Dark. He's a great one.
What makes his writing great?
I think it's the beauty of his prose, the uniqueness of his characters and his ability to tell a story that is not only exciting but what seems important to the region.