Y’all, I am sooooo excited to have Tim Downs join us today. I have enjoyed Tim’s sarcastic sense of humor since Eric and I heard him speak at a couple Family Life Today Weekend to Remember retreats. He and his wife Joy added so much to those weekends, and his sly humor was so enjoyable. Then we found his first two Bugman books, which were published by Howard. I picked them up a couple times, then finally bought them — not sure what to expect from books that had a geeky forensic entomologist as the star. They were FABULOUS!!! Think Grissom from CSI, only so much funnier.
This year, I’m delighted that Tim will be our keynote speaker at the ACFW conference. It will be such a treat for attendees! But today he’s at my blog to talk about his latest book, Wonders Never Cease, which releases tomorrow. You can download the first three chapters to read from his website. While Nick is nowhere to be found in the book, it’s a great read.
Tim, your next book is a bit of a departure from your last new novels. Tell us about Wonders Never Cease.
After doing three Bug Man stories in a row (First the Dead, Less than Dead, and Ends of the Earth) I needed a change of pace—something other than death and decomposition. I had the idea for Wonders Never Cease a couple of years ago but never seemed to be able to find the time to write the story, and this seemed like a good time. There are two concurrent plotlines in the story: a little girl who thinks she’s seeing angels, and a neurological ICU nurse who comes up with an idea to manufacture a near-death experience for one of his patients in order to publish a book and make a fortune. I wanted to contrast legitimate spiritual experience with spiritual fakery, because both of them are out there. On one level Wonders is a just-for-fun story, but on another level it has some very profound ideas.
Eric thoroughly enjoyed the book — and he’s a very critical reader. Folks, he said the characters engage you quickly and carry you on a ride that takes you unexpected places. I have to agree. Now back to Tim…I’ve learned that God usually teaches me something as I write each book. What did He show you as you wrote Wonders Never Cease?
He reminded me that it isn’t easy to have faith in a world like this; a lot of people will think you’re crazy if you do. The Bible describes faith as a fight that has to be fought, and that’s what I wanted to show in Wonders. The little six-year-old girl in my story is practically persecuted for believing she’s seen an angel. But why? In a universe as strange as ours, is that really so unbelievable? That’s what I want readers to consider.
I love your suspense, especially the Bug Man novels. In fact my husband and I usually fight over who gets to read them first. Tell us a bit about how you came up with Nick Polchak, a wise guy of the first order. Did he step into your mind fully formed or did he tease you for awhile?
Several years ago I read an article in a science magazine about the emerging science of forensic entomology—this was before all the CSI-type forensic shows were on television. I thought a forensic entomologist would make a terrific character because they’re not law enforcement types—they’re just people who chose to get a PhD in bugs and picked up the forensic application of their science on the side. I figured an FE would make a really quirky character, someone who might even like insects more than people—and Nick Polchak was born. I think Nick has evolved a bit over the years. He might have been a little darker when I first introduced him in Shoofly Pie; he’s a bit more light-hearted these days.
And falling in love! That was a departure. What’s the strangest place you’ve found yourself doing research for a novel? Rensselaer for a forensic entomology seminar? Or somewhere else?
Definitely Rensselaer, where I did my original research on forensic entomology at a seminar where crime scene investigators are taught to collect insect evidence at crime scenes. We spent the first three hours of every day watching slides of murder victims—and they were serving Krispy Kremes in the back of the room. I’ll never look at a donut the same way again! It’s not always that grisly, though; next week I’ll be in the Poconos with my wife doing research for my next Bug Man story. I’m hoping for a heart-shaped bathtub.
You and your wife have written non-fiction books and served with Family Life Today Weekend to Remembers. If you could tell people one thing you’ve learned about marriage and how to make it work, what would that be…in addition to reading your marriage books 🙂
A healthy marriage results when two healthy individuals get married—that’s why the spiritual component of marriage is so important. It’s also important to remember that marriage isn’t just a relationship, it’s a set of skills—there are things to learn and do. Unfortunately, a lot of people entering marriage today lack those skills. That’s why conferences like the Weekend to Remember are so helpful.
Last question. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you take?
In my life I’ve come to believe that what you do isn’t nearly as important as who you do it with. So, to answer your question, I would go with my best friend—my wife—and it wouldn’t much matter where we would go. As long as I was with her, I’d have a great time.