BRADENTON -- If you're going to write novels inspired by strange goings-on in your home state, you couldn't pick a better home state than Florida.
So says Tim Dorsey, whose novels about Florida have been popular with readers around the country for the past 14 years. He finds a virtual bottomless well of source material for his novels just by reading the state's newspapers.
"Florida really is that bizarre," Dorsey said in a phone interview from his home in Tampa.
Dorsey will make two free appearances Saturday in Manatee County to talk about his novels, his life and Florida. At 1 p.m., he'll be at the Braden River Library, 4915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton. Then at 3:30 p.m., he's slated
to talk at the Holmes Beach Island Library, 5701 Marina Dr., Holmes Beach.
"Mostly, it's a presentation about the weird experiences I've encountered on the road," Dorsey said.
Dorsey, a former Tampa Tribune reporter, published his first novel in 1999. He resigned from the Tribune the day his novel hit the bookstores.
His latest novel, "Riptide Ultra-Glide," came out in January. (These days, he said, he publishes one book a year, always in January.)
"Riptide Ultra-Glide" begins in Tampa, which at one time was the insurance fraud capital of Florida.
He got the idea for the Tampa part of the story from a newspaper account of two men who created a phony car accident as an insurance scam. They were supposed to be strangers, but their Facebook pages had photos of them together.
"How stupid can you get?" Dorsey said.
The protagonists in "Riptide Ultra-Glide" are tourists from Wisconsin on their way to Miami. They get A1A and U.S. 1 mixed up, and instead of Jimmy Buffett's Florida, they wind up in the Florida of "Scarface" and become innocently embroiled in an Oxycontin scam.
For his library presentations, Dorsey said he likes to keep the format loose and let the audience ask questions. But after 14 years as a Florida novelist and a long career before that as a Florida newspaper reporter, he has no shortage of bizarre Sunshine State stories to keep an audience entertained.
"I essentially talk off-the-cuff," he said. "I like to keep it as casual as possible. But let's just say that I have plenty of anecdotes and I know which ones work with audiences."
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919.