Married; wife's name Joy; children: three.
Writer, novelist, public speaker, and cartoonist. Campus Crusade for Christ, staff member. Presenter of "A Weekend to Remember" marriage and parenting conferences throughout the United States with wife, Joy.
Gold Medallion Award, missions/evangelism category, Christian Publishing Association, 2000, for Finding Common Ground.
Finding Common Ground: How to Communicate with Those outside the Christian Community—While We Still Can, Moody Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.
(With wife, Joy Downs) Fight Fair!: Winning at Conflict without Losing at Love, Moody Press (Chicago, IL), 2003.
(With Joy Downs) The Seven Conflicts: Resolving the Most Common Disagreements in Marriage, Moody Press (Chicago, IL), 2003.
Shoofly Pie (novel; "Bug Man" Christian suspense series), Howard Publishing (West Monroe, LA), 2003.
Chop Shop (novel; "Bug Man" Christian suspense series), Howard Publishing (West Monroe, LA), 2004.
Plague Maker (Christian suspense novel), WestBow Press (Nashville, TN), 2006.
Head Game (Christian suspense novel), WestBow Press (Nashville, TN), 2007.
Former artist and writer of comic strip, Downstown.
Author and cartoonist Tim Downs is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose works reflect a deep Christian perspective. The former writer and artist of the comic strip Downstown, which ran for more than 3,000 episodes, Downs is also the coauthor, with his wife, Joy, of several nonfiction works on relationship building and interpersonal communication. Fight Fair!: Winning at Conflict without Losing at Love is a "practical manual" for overcoming marital disagreements, stressing communication, adopting an attitude of humility, and demonstrating a willingness to discard old habits, noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. In Finding Common Ground: How to Communicate with Those outside the Christian Community—While We Still Can, Downs encourages a patient, nurturing, and respectful approach to opening up meaningful communication between Christians and non-Christians. The Seven Conflicts: Resolving the Most Common Disagreements in Marriage explores the seven most prevalent sources of turmoil in marriage and offers methods for quelling the trouble they can generate.
As a fiction writer, Downs has melded two seemingly disparate genres in his Christian suspense novels. His "Bug Man" series revolves around recurring character Nick Polchak, a forensic entomologist and expert in deducing clues to murders based on evidence left on murder victims by insects. In an interview for the Faithful Reader Web site, Downs pointed out that he wrote the first "Bug Man" book before television shows such as CSI brought about a keen awareness of forensics among the public. Downs also admits that his formal education is not in forensics or criminal justice but art, though he has had some training in forensic methods and the techniques of forensic entomology.
The first "Bug Man" book, Shoofly Pie, finds series regular, forensic entomologist Dr. Nick Polchak, vacationing in the hills of North Carolina, where he has been sent for the summer by his superiors at his college to keep him from involving himself where he's not wanted—such as murder investigations. When Polchak meets a woman who believes her best friend's death—ruled a suicide—is suspicious, he is drawn into the investigation as he feels the first stirrings of attraction toward the woman who enlisted his help. Marcia Ford, reviewing the book on the Faithful Reader, commented that "Downs's opener is as memorable a scene as you'll find anywhere in contemporary fiction." Further, in an enthusiastic endorsement of the character of Nick Polchak, Ford commented: "How Downs managed to create such a distinctive, provocative and believably eccentric character in his first novel is the kind of thing that should be required instruction at writers' conferences."
In Chop Shop, the second "Bug Man" book, Nick is once again in trouble at work, placed on probation after threatening to dissect a weary student who unfortunately fell asleep in his class. Not one for inactivity, however, Nick is enlisted by Dr. Riley McKay, from the Allegheny County Coroner's office in Pennsylvania, who has some suspicious bodies that could benefit from a professional forensic entomological examination. Nick and Riley run afoul of a black-market operation in human organs, seemingly fronted by a company called PharmaGen, a genetics firm with interests beyond DNA. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that there is "plenty of hilarity and suspense in this delightful sophomore" effort from Downs.
Downs considers unique and chilling terrorist methods in his next novel, Plague Maker. When FBI special agent Nathan Donovan investigates an unusual murder, he finds the usual dead human, but also thousands of dead fleas. In a guest appearance, Nick Polchak tells Donovan that fleas are known carries of bubonic plague. As the story unwinds, Donovan realizes that fleas would provide the perfect vehicle for a biological terrorist attack on New York. Enter Li Ming, a octogenarian Chinese scientist who believes he knows who has been experimenting with disease-carrying fleas: Sato Matsushita, an equally aged Japanese man who has been Li's sworn enemy, and who still plans to extract revenge on the United States for his sister's death in the Hiroshima atomic bombing in World War II. Donovan's investigation is complicated by the presence of other, cruder terrorists, and the involvement of his ex-wife Macy, herself an expert in terrorism and its countermeasures. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book a "top-drawer thriller about mortal grudges—and fatal fleas." Downs "hits his stride in this delightful faith-based thriller," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2006, John Mort, review of Plague Maker, p. 59.
Christianity Today, April 3, 2000, Mark Galli, review of Finding Common Ground: How to Communicate with Those outside the Christian Community—While We Still Can, p. 91.
Entertainment Weekly, January 20, 2006, Gilbert Cruz, "What's New In … Thrillers," review of Plague Maker, p. 74.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of Plague Maker, p. 1099.
Publishers Weekly, June 20, 2003, review of Fight Fair!: Winning at Conflict without Losing at Love, p. S15; June 7, 2004, review of Chop Shop, p. 30; October 24, 2005, review of Plague Maker, p. 36.
Faithful Reader,http://www.faithfulreader.com/ (February 10, 2005), Marcia Ford, interview with Tim Downs; (September 23, 2006), Marcia Ford, review of Shoofly Pie; (September 23, 2006), Marcia Ford, review of Chop Shop; (September 23, 2006), Marcia Ford, review of Plague Maker. *