It’s always a pleasure catching up with Tim Floreen, which I was able to do at this year’s YANovCon. I couldn’t wait to feature ANATOMY OF A MURDERER, the paperback edition of his book TATTOO ATLAS, which comes out on April 24.
A teenage sociopath is “fixed” after he gets an implant that’s supposed to cure him in this thrilling coming-of-age tale from the author of Willful Machines.
A year ago, Rem Braithwaite watched his classmate Franklin Kettle commit a horrific crime.
Now, apart from the nightmares, life has gone back to normal for Rem. Franklin was caught, convicted, and put away in juvenile detention for what he did. The ordeal seems to be over.
Until Rem’s mother selects Franklin as a test subject for an experimental brain procedure intended to “cure” him of his cruel and violent impulses. Suddenly Rem’s memories of that day start coming back to the surface. His nightmares become worse than ever. Plus he has serious doubts about whether his mother’s procedure will even work. Can evil really just be turned off?
Then, as part of Franklin’s follow-up testing, he and Rem are brought face to face, and Rem discovers…Franklin does seem different. Despite everything, Rem finds himself becoming friends with Franklin. Maybe even something more than friends.
But when another of their classmates turns up dead, Rem’s world turns upside-down yet again. Franklin insists that he’s innocent, that he’s cured, but Rem doesn’t know what to believe. Is someone else responsible for this new murder, or is Franklin fated to stay a monster forever? And can Rem find out the answer to this question before the killer, whoever it is, comes after him too?
On your website, you mention that you are “a little obsessed with Wonder Woman.” Where did this “obsession” start, and what did you think of the Wonder Woman movie with Gal Godot?
I’m totally dating myself here, but my love of Wonder Woman actually started with the Lynda Carter TV show, which began airing when I was three years old. Her glamour and power captured my imagination, and pretty soon I was having my mom make me a tiara and bracelets out of paper so I could run around tying up friends and family with my “magic lasso.” I’ve loved her ever since. Last year, though I was thrilled someone was FINALLY making a Wonder Woman movie, I was also nervous that my beloved character would get ruined. So it came as a huge relief when I saw the movie and found I LOOOOOVED it. It took all the classic elements of the Wonder Woman character and combined them in a way that felt completely new and fresh—while saying something quite profound about war and the nature of evil.
I agree! DC finally got themselves some decent screenwriters too.
ANATOMY OF A MURDERER is the paperback edition of TATTOO ATLAS. Can you share what led to the title change in the latest edition?
I think the publisher was concerned that the previous title, TATTOO ATLAS, didn’t give a clear enough idea of what the book was about. I came up with a list of alternate titles, and my editor chose ANATOMY OF A MURDERER, a play on the title of the classic movie ANATOMY OF A MURDER. This title definitely ties directly to what lies at the center of the novel: the body of the teenage sociopath Franklin Kettle—more specifically, his brain. AOAM is a psychological thriller that deals with the question of what might make the brain of a killer different and whether changing the way the brain works can actually make a “bad” person “good.” In other words, CAN EVIL BE CURED? (Cue dramatic music.)
A thought provoking question, indeed! In our last interview, you mentioned you were contributing to a “collaborative novel” project called FERAL YOUTH. What was the most rewarding part of this process?
I had a blast working on FERAL YOUTH. First off, I just love the idea of the project—a book that’s not quite a novel and not quite an anthology, but something in between. The premise is that a group of teens at a wilderness survival camp for troubled youth are passing the time telling each other stories, Canterbury Tales-style. Each of the involved authors wrote one of the stories and developed the character telling that story, and Shaun David Hutchinson wrote the framing narrative. I loved getting to work with him and all the other authors. Plus, it was so much fun writing a short story—something I hadn’t done in a while—and trying my hand at a noir-style revenge tale.
Looks like I’ll have to add FERAL YOUTH to my TBR list! If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?
Write for yourself, not for others. I wasted too many years writing the kind of fiction I thought I was SUPPOSED to write instead of the kind that truly filled me with joy. I’m much happier writing sci-fi thrillers for young adults. 🙂
ANATOMY OF A MURDERER (a.k.a. TATTOO ATLAS)