About “Fever Tree”:
Dieter arrives in the historic town of Crooked River. The residents take notice. Deckhands, bartenders and shopkeepers befriend him, and the charming but hesitant Maggie Paterson falls in love. Teddy Mink, the town’s notorious and often paranoid drug runner, is convinced that he’s threatening his livelihood as a narc, making Dieter’s arrival to Crooked River more conspicuous than he’d hoped.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this book?
Tim Applegate: Fever Tree is the first book of a trilogy that will present a cross-section of people of my generation – Vietnam veterans, hippies, struggling artists – who considered themselves outsiders, outcasts. The idea to set the first book in a small town filled with southern eccentrics occurred to me while I was reading Flannery O’Connor’s great novella Wise Blood. The original inspiration to write a series of unconventional suspense novels was Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Applegate: Unlike my poetry, which seems to happen only when the muse decides it’s going to happen, writing fiction, at least for me, is more structured, more calculated. With Fever Tree, as well as the second book, which I’m working on now, I more or less outlined the entire plot before I wrote the first sentence. As for my “creative process”, I get up every morning and write. And I’m grateful to be able to do that.
Review Fix: What else did you read/listen to as a kid? How did it influence the book?
Applegate: As a teenager, what I listened to was Bob Dylan. Someone asked me once if I remembered when I decided I wanted to be a poet, and I told him it was the first time I heard Dylan’s Desolation Row. Those lyrics! I wanted to write lines like that. Then I started reading Hemingway in college and it was all over. I was hooked.
Review Fix: Why do you think Fever Tree never made it big?
Applegate: That’s a good question I’m not sure I can answer. I suspect at least one reason was that there was such an outpouring of innovative rock music at that time, from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin to Jimi Hendrix, they may have gotten lost in the shuffle. Fever Tree was a Texas-based band that relocated to San Francisco in the late sixties, and if you think about the other bands in that city at that time, from Jefferson Airplane to The Grateful Dead, you can see how that might happen.
Review Fix: How hard is it to go from poetry to a novel?
Applegate: I think my background as a poet was immensely helpful when I wrote this book. As a poet, I have certain strengths and certain weaknesses, and knowing those strengths and weaknesses helped me decide what to put into the book as well as what to leave out.
Review Fix: What was the editing process like?
Applegate: I was fortunate to have a very fine editor, her name is Jana Good, work with me on Fever Tree. Jana has a precise critical eye and a wonderfully upbeat temperament. We were able to do all the editing online, and we made a good team. It was a creative and productive period, and I’ll always owe Jana a debt of gratitude for her help.
Review Fix: How do you want the book to affect people?
Applegate: First and foremost, I hope they react to the characters emotionally. I hope they care about them, laugh with them when they’re happy and mourn with them when they grieve.
Review Fix: How would you like it to be remembered?
Applegate: As a good start to a trilogy. As a first book that made readers want to read the second.
Review Fix: What next?
Applegate: I just finished the first draft of the second book in the series, so I’ll start the revision next week. And I’m working on a new chapbook of poems. Some writers complain about how hard writing is, and of course they’re right, but for me it’s also joyful, and challenging, and sometimes, when it goes well, fulfilling. Besides, it keeps me out of trouble. It keeps me off the streets.