After graduating from the US Naval Academy, Cerabino was assigned to duty on an aircraft carrier. “It was almost like being in prison,” he recalls. “You spent 80% of your time at sea. The only leisure activities were playing cards, watching awful movies, or reading books. I was never much of a reader, but I started reading by default and realized, for the first time in my life, how terrific it was to read for pleasure.” He became a voracious reader, sometimes reading for six or seven hours a day. Then he got the itch to write.
Cerabino tried writing short stories and enjoyed it so much that he took a job as the ship’s public affairs officer. There he was charged with writing press releases, producing TV newscasts and putting out the ship’s newspaper. As press liaison, he even got to work with the White House Press Corps. By the time his stint in the Navy ended, he had decided to make writing his career.After earning a Masters degree in journalism, Cerabino worked at the City News Bureau in Chicago for six months. Then he was offered a job with the Miami Herald and relocated to Florida. Five years later, he joined the staff at the Palm Beach Post where he’s worked as metro columnist since 1991. His humorous observations on life in Florida have won him numerous journalism awards and spawned five books that take a lighthearted look at the eccentricities of life in the Sunshine State.
Cerabino’s first novel, Shady Palms: A Condo Caper premiered in 2000 as a serialized story in his column. Set in a fictional condominium community in Palm Beach County, the tale introduces Bernie Hamstein, the put-upon president of Building C, who finds himself caught between a pregnant renter and the outraged residents of his adults-only building. Bernie’s trials continue in Shady Palms 2: Fowl Play (2001) and Shady Palms 3: Viagra Falls (2002).
In a second series, “Pelican Park,” Cerabino regales readers with the comic misadventures of a family in a South Florida suburb. According to Cerabino, “I wanted a break from Shady Palms, something with a younger female protagonist. I didn’t want to be known as that guy who writes about old people.” In the title book of the series, Pelican Park (2005), Cerabino introduces Pinky, formerly of Boca Raton, who has moved with her two children to Pelican Park, a suburb of West Palm Beach. Pinky’s hilarious adventures continue in Pelican Park 2: Pinky Feels the Pinch (2006).Cerabino describes his books as “a mixture of humor, pathos and suspense.” He admits that he was inspired by San Francisco writer Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City,” six serialized novels Cerabino describes as “light, but with a sense of place that spoke to the community.” He also credits his association with Miami Herald writer Carl Hiaasen for influencing his writing.
Cerabino’s most recent publication is a departure from his other works. “Writing Like a Taller Person: The Best of Frank Cerabino,” published is 2011, is a collection of columns written for the Palm Beach Post over the last 20 years. In addition to writing five columns each week, Cerabino keeps himself busy teaching a class, biking, running, and playing the accordion. But it’s his writing that brings him the most satisfaction. “You put a piece of yourself on paper, and there’s a sense of permanence in that,” he says. “It’s something immortal - a little marker to show you’ve been here. That’s all the satisfaction I need. Of course, I’d also love to be rich and famous.”For more about Frank Cerabino, go to www.palmbeachpost.com/staff/frank-cerabino