Tim Downs Blog The Official Blog of Author Tim Downs


It’s Not About the Bugs

I recently did a web interview made up entirely of questions submitted by my readers. (If you’re interested, by the way, you can listen to that interview at http://bit.ly/i4hQz). I received some unusual questions, but there was one question I seem to get in every interview I do…

“How did you get so interested in bugs?”

I’m not interested in bugs. I’m interested in people.

Stories are always about people—good stories, anyway. It’s a simple fact of human nature that people are interested in people: what they think, how they feel, and the sometimes incomprehensible reasons they do the things they do. To be honest, we’re probably not as interested in other people as we are in ourselves, because stories about others give us insight into the workings of our own mysterious minds and hearts.

I would argue that it’s almost impossible to tell a story that isn’t about people. “Twilight” isn’t about vampires; it’s about feelings of alienation and the ecstasy of unfulfilled longing with a heaping helping of teenage angst piled on top. The “Harry Potter” stories aren’t about wizards and magic; they’re about friendship and loyalty and the desperate desire to believe that you are more than just an ordinary muggle. Even “March of the Penguins” isn’t about penguins; it’s about courtship and endurance and sacrificial dedication to our children.

The protagonist in five of my novels, Dr. Nick Polchak, is a forensic entomologist. Nick’s job involves the study of insects—the blowflies and flesh flies and carrion beetles that consume human bodies as they decompose. But my Bug Man stories are not about the bugs—they’re about a man who thinks he’s a bug. Why does he think that? Why would he want to? What’s wrong with him? What was it in his past that made him that way? Will he ever change? Can he? And is there a woman anywhere who could love a man like that? Anyone who has read one of my novels will tell you that that’s what my stories are really about. The bugs—well, they’re just bugs.

I imagine a lot of potential readers are turned off to my Bug Man stories before they ever read one. “I’m just not into bugs,” they probably say.

That’s okay. Neither am I.

Comments (9) Trackbacks (0)
  1. April 11, 2012.
    Please tell us,Tim, how much longer do we have to wait for your next “Bug Man” book??? I don’t think I can wait much longer.

    Thay have blessed me so much.

  2. Tim,

    I just had the utter joy of finishing “Nick Of Time” and took the liberty of reviewing it on my blog at http://www.brucejudisch.blogspot.com. Thanks for a terrific read. I’m ashamed to say it’s the first of your books I’ve read. I’m delighted to say it’s nowhere near the last.

    Cheers! Bruce

  3. I’d like to apply for the job of “advanced copy reader”. Have just finished reading Shoofly Pie for the fourth time and will get out Chop Shop next!!

    I think your prof’s wife said what the answer should be, someone who will make Bugs complete & that would be Kath. She loves him, has made adjustments in past to be with him even tho she fears bugs, has a dau that he cares about & who loves bugs. When he is out eating with A who does he talk about? He is needed in that relationship. A does not need him; she is a surviver & would have to make way more of an adjustment to living in Raleigh than A.
    Of all your responders, how many of them are alike (LB above says weird) their spouses. Mine of 35yrs is gentle with words; I am not because i am too blunt. He He thinks outside the box; I examine the box. He has a sense of humor; I am too literal to have one.
    Who completes Bugs? I think Kath does.

    Tim, Ray and I have both read “Ends of the Earth” and loved it, of course. We’ve loved all your books, but this is one of the best, even with the “cliff hanger” ending. I was leaning toward Alena but then thought….nahh…..The Bug Man wouldn’t propose to either of them so I voted for that. The choice was just too hard ’cause I liked both women, although I do feel Alena and Nick are probably a better match….they’re both kind of “weird”. Can’t wait for the next one. We recommend them to all our friends. When are you coming to Moneta for a visit??

  6. Wow, Don, you’ve already read Ends of the Earth? It’s only been out for a week! You need to slow down–I can’t write them that fast. Since you asked, my next book is scheduled for release May of 2010. Until then, you’ll just have to read them over again! Thanks for reading, Don.

  7. Mr. Downs, I’ve now read all of your books, including Ends of the Earth. They are utterly fascinating and I can’t put them down. When can I expect to see another? You are a gifted writer who has been blessed with incredible talent. I hope to see you again in another book soon.

    God bless,

    Don Gilleland

  8. Ditto Kristin’s comment….and I love your books. I still remain a bit behind and a few are on my shelf calling my name. I hear them now, in fact. But there is louder voice saying, “Get your daughter off to college and don’t forget to pick Joey up from work. Take the book(s) to Florida when you go!”

    ANYWAY…..if someone reads this blog and has never read your books, Tim, my question is, “Why, not?” And their answer will probably echo mine….”because once I start, I can’t put it down.”

    LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING GO FLORIDA WHERE I WILL SIT AND READ AND SIT AND READ AND maybe think about making something quick on the grill!

  9. So well said! Of course, you are a writer.
    People always make comments to me like that about the Bug Man books and my response always includes, “They are NOT about bugs!”

Trackbacks are disabled.