We all have to deal with our share of jerks: the rude waiter at dinner last night or the texting teen who cut you off on the way to work. Sometimes we fantasize about how we’d get revenge, but New York Times best-selling author Tim Dorsey ’83 just kills them.
In his books, of course.
“When idiots treat you unfairly, you just bite your lip and take the high road,” Dorsey said. “Instead of responding to them, I think of how I can kill them in a book and make some money.”
Revenge has been sweet for Dorsey since he left his newspaper job to write novels full-time in 1999. After publishing book No. 19, Coconut Cowboy, earlier this year, Dorsey stopped at the Auburn University Bookstore for a book-signing. It was the 47th stop of his tour.
Dorsey’s wacky cast of characters populate the wacky world of South Florida. He’s best known for his eccentric protagonist Serge A. Storms, a clinically insane “sequential” Florida killer who enacts his strong sense of justice by slaying the people who, for lack of a better term, tick him off.
“He doesn’t like it when they call him a serial killer,” Dorsey said. “He thinks serial killers are sick and compulsive. Of course he’s sick and weird, too, but he doesn’t recognize it.”
In his latest adventure, Storms and his drugged-out sidekick Coleman set out to find the lost American dream, motorcycling through the iconic Panhandle cities featured in the ’60s classic film Easy Rider.
Along the way, they don’t find the front-porch-sitting, lemonade-sipping, American hospitality they’d hoped for; instead, they find the corruption and greed they wanted to escape.
Dorsey, a Floridian himself, grew up in Riviera Beach north of Miami. Although he’s not a murderous vigilante like Storms, he is, like his character, enamored with his home state’s charm, history and admitted weirdness.
People ask Dorsey all the time where he gets inspiration for his less-than-conventional methods of murder. Fascinated by science and technology as a child, he now wanders around home-improvement stores, keeping an eye out for tools and machinery that could be easily “misused.”
Initially an engineering major, Dorsey earned his writing chops working for the Plainsman, including serving as editor his senior year.
His experiences there solidified his love for writing, and after graduating, he worked in journalism for 16 years. Two weeks before the publication of his first novel, he turned in his two-week notice.
Now it’s on to book No. 20. “Having a dream and chasing it,” Dorsey said, “is only second to actually seeing it happen.”
For Dorsey, if anything’s clear about the road ahead, it’s that there will always be another jerk for Serge Storms to kill.