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A kinder, gentler Tim?

Rowland writes humor novel about his home life

Rowland writes humor novel about his home life

November 15, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

If you think you know Tim Rowland by reading his newspaper columns, think again.

When writing the columns, he uses a contrived persona that he described Sunday as "the crabby cynic."

But Rowland, 44, of Halfway, says he dropped the persona when writing his new humor novel, "Home Detention."

In the book, he shows his more thoughtful, emotional side as he describes what it was like to go from being a bachelor living alone in his 40s to getting married and suddenly having a wife, a stepdaughter, a roommate and two pets.

"It was a tremendous social and emotional upheaval for me," he said Sunday.

Rowland said he realized the situations in his personal life were a fertile topic for humor.

"If this were happening to someone else, it would really be funny. So I used the book as a kind of psychiatric couch," he said.

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Rowland said the book took about six months to write, as he worked on it for about four hours every Saturday and Sunday.

"It is a catalog of all the tight spots I got myself into over the last two years," he said.

He also describes in detail how he got over initial resistance and rebellion from his stepdaughter, Alexa Hurley, 13, and how that and other relationships made him change and mature.

He writes at one point: "I know for a fact that Alexa has helped me grow at least as much as I've helped her."

Alexa admitted Sunday to transgressions described in the books - "I really worked him," she said - and says comments in the book about how he and she have ultimately learned from each other are accurate.

Tim's wife, Herald-Mail staff writer Andrea Rowland, said it is fascinating to read what he has learned in just a few years as a parent.

"The book is very real. I learned a lot about Tim reading what he had to write about me and my family," Andrea Rowland said.

His new family life has changed the tone of his column to some extent, perhaps making him a bit more kind, Tim said.

"I have to work harder to be crabby," he said. If someone compares his current columns to those of eight years ago, he thinks people would find the current ones "funnier but nicer."

He is quite aware that some people don't know what to make of some of his columns.

"The column is a lot of what I pretend to be feeling," he said. "Part of the game for me is letting people guess whether I am being serious or not."

Andrea Rowland said she barely talked to her future husband for the first two years she worked for the newspaper because she did not realize his column persona differed from his real views.

Now she knows better, and others who read the book will see that difference as well, she said.

A collection of Rowland's columns was published in 2003 as a book, "Stories of Bizarre Behavior That Really Happened, Mostly."

As with that book, he is making a series of public appearances and signing his books, he said.

Rowland said he plans to compile and publish another collection of columns and might write a book about animals.

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