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Talking with TC – Tim Cotton discusses new book ‘Got Warrants’

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BANGOR – Bangor’s own literary law enforcement officer is at it again.

Lieutenant Tim Cotton of the Bangor Police Department has released a new book, his second. “Got Warrants?” is a follow-up to last year’s “The Detective in the Dooryard,” both published by Down East Books.

Cotton’s introduction to most readers came during his lengthy and wildly popular time at the helm of the Bangor PD’s Facebook page; his combination of wit and wisdom led to the page gathering hundreds of thousands of followers – basically, the population of Bangor tenfold.

So it’s no surprise that someone out there in the publishing world would take notice and see if TC’s unconventional style would work in book form. And judging from the success of “TDITD,” it seems that it does.

It certainly worked well enough to get Cotton back behind the word processor (or typewriter – it wouldn’t shock me to learn that these pages came off the roller of a vintage Underwood) for another go round.

“Got Warrants?” is a collection of items drawn from the BPD Facebook page’s feature of the same name, where Cotton injected a welcome dose of cleverness and clarity into the boilerplate stylings of the standard reportage of the police beat. It’s a mixture that probably shouldn’t work, but it does. You can read our review of the book here.

It works because Cotton brings a consistent collegiality to the proceedings. He has a self-deprecating sense of humor that manages to carry a little bit of snark without ever becoming mean-spirited – no easy feat. He is someone who is passionate about his work and his community – a passion that carries through everything that he writes. There’s nothing disingenuous here; everything comes from a place of honesty. That’s true of the social media offerings and it’s true of the books.

(It’s also true of the work that he posts on his personal website – check out www.timcottonwrites.com to get a regular dose of what he brings to the table. He offers regular postings and a weekly newsletter, among other things. For a guy who has a day job, he’s awfully productive.)

Even with a new book hitting shelves, TC was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about “Got Warrants?” We talk about his process, about the differences that come with writing a second book and some of the reasoning behind why he’s doing any of this in the first place.

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A Q&A with Tim Cotton

How have things changed for you following the success of “The Detective in the Dooryard”?

I don’t think there have been many changes for me. Success in the world of publishing probably begins when someone asks you to write another one, and that did happen. I have been tapped for a total of three more, including this one. So, I have some writing in front of me, and that feels good. You do worry that the next will not be successful, and after Dooryard, it will be hard to compete with the feeling of surprise that overwhelms you when someone buys a book that you have written. I hope to have the same feeling again. While I do like the book, this is the time when it doesn’t matter what I think about it. I am hopeful, but always keep a bit of pessimism handy. It’ s fun book, and it’s here in time for Christmas gift giving. That’s not a bad thing. 

Was it always your intention to write another book?

Surely, I wanted to. But, again, you never do know how the world will embrace your work with a willingness to pay for it. I do enjoy seeing it on the racks when I peruse bookstores. I also am always sure to see if there are copies at the two-dollar book table near the front door. I haven’t seen it there yet, but there is still time. People have been so wonderful to support my writing. I need to be thankful that they have, and remain hopeful that they continue to find it worth their time. 

What made you decide that “Got Warrants?” would be the right follow-up to “TDITD”?

This was the brainchild of my editor, Michael Steere. He pushed me to follow up Dooryard with something that was lighter fare. The Got Warrants series at the BPD Facebook page has been popular, and it was a favorite section for many in TDITD. Steere wanted me to do a whole book of the pieces, and I balked at it for a while. I felt the atmosphere surrounding cops was a bit too negative for me to come out with more humor during these times. Steere said we should, and I trusted him. They are so much fun for me to write, and I hope that comes through in the stories. I laugh when I write them, I hope people react the same way when they read them. 

How has the process been different with this book than with your first?

It’s far more difficult to write when there is a deadline. When I just do it for fun, it’s so easy for me. Once there is someone looking over your shoulder for the work, it’s tough. I think that’s the only difference. I still turn up the music and settle in with intent to write a few, and those are good nights. Music, coffee, and nothing to do but write. I enjoy it through the winter. I really do. 

What are some of the lessons you learned from the experience with the first book that helped you with the second, whether in the writing itself or the post-publication aftermath?

Well, I have had it easy. I write, rewrite a few days later when I find more comedic tidbits to add. Then, I edit a bit. I run them by Melody my co-worker and proofer. She finds a lot of things that I miss. I rewrite again.  It takes a couple of runs at it to wring out the most humor, but it’s a fun process. After I sent it to my editor, I really don’t hear back unless he finds glaring issues. This is not brain surgery, just fun, stream of consciousness writing. Sometimes it comes very easy, and sometimes I just walk away for a week at a time. I am more patient now with the post writing process. It takes a long time to take a book from the writing to the printing. I move on, and write something else, hoping that the book comes back to me the way I remember it. 

“Got Warrants” was a wildly popular series on the BPD FB page and now they’ve become a book. What is it about these stories that you think engages people?

I think people like to laugh. I know I do. I hope they are humorous enough to create that reaction. That’s the entire goal; lighthearted fare to be perused over a morning coffee. 

How did you choose the stories you wound up putting in the book? Were there any that you really liked that, for whatever reason, you weren’t able to include?

Oh, there is so much that I cannot include. I read hundreds and hundreds of reports. The legion that we do not use are usually filled with pain and heartache for people. I cannot get on board in looking for humor in those cases. These are usually simple stories that I try to inject with some satire, sarcasm, and hyperbole. I utilize musical references, movie references a lot. I can “hear” some of these stories, and I try to relate that to others with my words. I am thankful that folks enjoy them. 

What’s your personal favorite story from “Got Warrants?” Do you have one?

I don’t, I was asked tonight about a favorite, and I really cannot put my finger on one. I really haven’t gone back through the book completely yet; I received my copies just a few days ago. I will probably find one, but not yet. 

What are you working on now? You’ve mentioned an interest in steering toward fiction – is that what’s next on the agenda?

No, not next. I hoped it would be, but I am working on another collection of essays both old and new. Possibly similar to TDITD.  The fiction I hope to have completed by next winter for publication in 2023. I am an essayist, and the dialogue in a novel has slowed me down. I’ve gained a lot of respect for the novelists who can pound out stories with great dialogue. I am working on it. I am slow, and I seem to get slower. LOL

What do you want people to take away from the experience of reading this new book?

I want them to sit back and enjoy a bit of levity. I see this book as something kill time when sitting in a car on a long trip, maybe in the bathroom while killing time. These are short pieces, so they can be read a few at a time with no worries if you cannot finish until later. Laughing is good, and I am hopeful that’s what I hear from folks. I know I laughed a lot while writing them. 

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And that’s the key, really. Cotton’s attitude is fairly simple: if it makes him laugh, maybe it’ll make you laugh. And as a good friend of mine often says, the world needs more laughter.

If you like “The Detective in the Dooryard,” you’ll probably like “Got Warrants?” If you like Cotton’s work with the BPD Facebook page, you’ll probably like “Got Warrants?” In tumultuous times, moments of escape are always welcome. Maybe Tim Cotton can help you find a few.

(“Got Warrants?” is available wherever books are sold, including in the innumerable independent bookstores that do so much for authors like Tim Cotton. Visit your local bookseller and get your hands on a copy. You can also read more of TC’s work at www.timcottonwrites.com, where you can also learn more about the various and sundry other projects with which he is involved.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 October 2021 12:40

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