miami book fair feature: Author Tim Dorsey hydroplanes through tropical crime stories

Are you looking for a calm, relaxing Florida book that paints a mental picture of tranquility, sunshine and gentle waves lapping onto the shore? Stay as far away from Tim Dorsey as possible. His novels have been compared to the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry, and he’s not a writer for the serenity seeker. His books are veritable meeting places for sizzling violence, rough politics and edgy social themes. If the crime-gone-awry content weren’t fiery enough, all of his juicy literary romps take place in the sweltering state of Florida. The 41-year-old Dorsey, now a resident of Tampa, grew up in the West Palm Beach area and tackled journalism before plunging full-throttle into the crime fiction scene. His works include Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, and most recently, Triggerfish Twist. Dorsey’s upcoming appearance at the Miami Book Fair International is fitting for this tropical author, whose novels are nothing if not packed with tasty local color.
Life & Art chatted with Dorsey about Florida, fiction, and plenty of dead bodies.

Q: We have to ask: are you any relation to Ken Dorsey, the UM quarterback?

Dorsey: (laughs) No, unfortunately I’m not, but I am glad that he’s getting the Dorsey name out there.

Q: Your website says you graduated from Auburn with a degree in transportation. That’s a far cry from something like creative writing or English.

TD: I was jumping around with majors. I knew I wanted to write for a living, but I felt that was a distant fantasy. I thought I needed something else. So I literally looked through the syllabus, and decided to just get any degree and get out. I was involved with journalism, however, and my senior year I was editor of the student paper.

Q: You have a background in journalism and reporting. How did that segue into a writing career?

TD: The creative writing was what I wanted to do first and foremost. I decided when I was 15 that I wanted to write wacky, satirical novels, which is a strange vocational choice for that age! I needed to get started in writing, so I went to the student paper in high school and wrote for a while. At college, I started corresponding for the school newspaper as a freshman. So I used learning about writing to start my career. I worked for the Tampa Tribune for about 10 years, then I left to start writing fiction. Actually, my last day at the Tribune was the day my first novel was published. Of course, I had a bunch of failed efforts and failed books in the beginning, but I wasn’t going to quit!

Q: You travel the state a lot for research.

TD: All the time. It helps me get a feel for the settings of my novels, as well as all different types of people. The star of my books is really the state of Florida, and then I just throw a lot of dead bodies around.

Q: Do you have a favorite part of Florida?

TD: I love the Keys, definitely. Also, a book that I’m working on currently is set totally in Miami. It alternates between present day and the 1960s.

Q: So you like the Miami area?

TD: I get goose bumps just looking at all the incredible landscaping, foliage, and architecture in Miami. It’s so unique, and just a really inspiring place. Actually, one of my older books involves the University of Miami-one of my characters gets involved in a scenario in the old Orange Bowl.

Q: Your next book is called The Stingray Shuffle, due out February of next year. Can you talk about that?

TD: Basically, a missing briefcase with 5 million dollars goes to New York City, and everyone ends up chasing after it. It really delves into Florida history, about the story of Henry Flagler and development of the railroads. It’s also about tracking down murderers, and at the end all the characters end up on an Amtrak murder mystery train and try to kill each other. I did a lot of travel and research for this one. I actually took the train down from New York to Florida.

Q: Your book Orange Crush contains straightforward, savvy political satire. Did your own views influence that kind of governmental cynicism?

TD: Yes, but I tried to attack everybody as to be fair. That was an uphill sell to my editor, because my other books are straight-up crime drama and this one was political comedy. We were worried about commercial value, but I turned it in right before the 2000 presidential election, and after the whole scandal broke out sales soared.

Q: What’s your involvement with the book fair?

TD: I’m speaking on Sunday the 24th, and I’m just going to read from one of my novels and discuss a little bit. I love coming to the fair, and this is actually my fourth time participating. I like to poke around and see Miami too.

Jessica Misener can be reached at jessm02@yahoo.coma

November 22, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Hurricanes wrapped up spring with a big, as in 6-5 and 290 pounds, surprise on Saturday. Four-st ...

Spring ended Saturday for the Miami Hurricanes, with hundreds of UM football alumni and family membe ...

One day left for the youngsters to show University of Miami coach Mark Richt what they can do. One d ...

Former Miami Norland High star Zach Johnson is coming home for his final year of college basketball. ...

They have been feted and adored for years by football fans from coast to coast. But legends Frank Go ...

The Energy and Conservation Organization was recognized with the 2018 Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foot ...

The Brazilian judge whose office spearheaded a massive corruption and bribery investigation said tha ...

The director of the University of Miami's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, who passed away Ap ...

Business Professor Patricia Abril, and Trustee Stuart Miller receive Faculty Senate's highest h ...

Miami's women's track and field team entered the top-15 in the latest edition of the NCAA ...

Junior righthander Andrew Cabezas was recognized with ACC Pitcher of the Week honors after an outsta ...

Hurricanes record their best round of tournament on Monday. ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team highlighted its Senior Day with a 4-0 sweep against D ...

The No. 17 Miami women's tennis team wrapped up the regular season with its sixth straight vict ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.