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Terrorists for the greater good?

NL comedian and author Nathan Timmel enters the realm of fiction with “We Are 100”
North Liberty comedian and author Nathan Timmel has published his 12th book, We Are 100, an action and suspense novel exploring what can happen when the powerless rise up. The book, now available on Amazon.com, is a departure from his non-fiction books drawn from his life experiences.

NORTH LIBERTY– What happens when the common man gets pushed to his limits and finds a group of like-minded individuals? Nathan Timmel explores the possibilities in his new book We Are 100, which is now available on Amazon.com.
Timmel, a North Liberty-based comedian, has previously penned 11 non-fiction books ranging from an autobiography to collections of letters to his young children, Hillary and Truman, which were written in hotel rooms across the country; and even an exploration of life with a new baby in the house-written from the perspective of Kitty, his late miniature schnauzer.
“You cannot ever run out of material with nonfiction, because you’re writing about life and life is continually moving forward,” he said. Now however, Timmel has made the leap into the fiction genre with an action and suspense novel. “I read a story about ‘Pharma Boy’ (Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical company CEO, who drew public condemnation for inflating the price of the AIDS treatment drug Daraprim 5,000 percent), and I had the idea of powerlessness. We all feel powerless at some point in our lives and generally it comes when we try to take on an institution, be it a bank or corporation, or even something as petty as a phone bill. And I got this idea of, what happens when not just one person acts out against this, and says ‘screw it, I’m going to go do something violent to a phone bank or a pharmaceutical company,’ but what if they become organized? How about an ‘ISIS for good?’ An Al-Qaeda who fights for the common man, a more violent Robin Hood?” Robin Hood, he said, has often had a cheeky image of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
“What happens sort of French Revolutionary when the poor rise up and say we are tired of nothing getting done, so if the governments that are supposed to protect us will not put a cap on pharmaceutical prices, what if we take out the head of a pharmaceutical industry as an example until the other CEOs do better?”
According to the book’s synopsis, “After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications, but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation. Then he meets Cassandra. She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high.”
The reality, Timmel said, is “they would hire better security, and not drop prices, but it’s still fun to toy with the idea of what happens when people who are pushed to the limit feel powerless by wealthy institutions.”
Francart, he said, is your average, every day person that is in a terrorist cell.
“It’s not going after the cashier at Wal-Mart, it’s someone going after the Walton family,” he said. “Again, it’s sort of the French Revolution, so few have so much, and it’s not a matter of Robin Hood taking away, it’s you don’t get to take it with you when you die… and we are going to take you out.”
While the premise sounds dark, Timmel said the book isn’t written to be dark or evil. “I had one person who read it tell me they felt hopeful at the end, and I thought that was interesting, because my wife (Lydia Fine) didn’t dislike the ending, but she didn’t love it because she said people like ‘Hollywood endings.’ People can interpret it, dark or hopeful, or however they want. The end of the book is discovering what set everything in motion. The book opens with the premise of we’re going to go after the rich and powerful, and the ending of the book is why.”
In between is the public “enjoying it, ‘They’re not coming after John Q. Me, they’re going after them, so good! Go get ‘em! And, law enforcement saying we get that it’s popular, but they can’t go doing this so we have to catch them, and how do we catch them?”
Again from the synopsis: “As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninety-nine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan's: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace... and that's just the beginning. Will the FBI unearth Cassandra's identity before all 100 have carried out their plans?”
The book is part crime thriller, part procedural, and part suspense novel. Timmel said he really couldn’t pigeon-hole it into any one category. “I modeled it in part off the Liam Neeson movie Taken (a former spy’s (Neeson) daughter is kidnapped setting him off on a rescue mission), but not in any sense of (paraphrasing Neeson’s character) ‘I have a set of special skills and you have my daughter,’ but in that there’s a little exposition up front, and then it hits the ground running and it’s go, go, go, go. That’s kind-of what I wanted while I writing, just a decent pace. I didn’t want anything to get bogged down. I wanted enough exposition to make it understandable and clear without bogging it down with 20 pages of backstory. You can really get bogged down with, ooh, I really want to get inside the head of this character. I wanted to mold this character, present him to the reader, and say let’s go, we’re gonna start running now. It’s been described as a page-turner, and that’s what I want.”
Conventional wisdom would say being home (and not out on the road doing comedy shows) would make the writing go easier and quicker. Timmel said that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“I started to write this book about a year to a year-and-a-half ago, and it was actually much, much easier to write before everything (the pandemic), because I’m a comedian, and I’d go on the road and be in a hotel room all day with nothing to do before my show, so I’d just write, and write, and write. Once this (the pandemic) hit, everybody was like, ‘Oh, you have all this time now.’ Not when you have two kids at home, not when you put them in Zoom school. All I would do was bounce back and forth between the two like ‘Hey, do school work,’ ‘Get off videos!’ So, this was not beneficial to the process.”
Regarding life as a comedian of 20 years, who has even taken his act overseas to entertain troops in combat zones, Timmel noted “You can be a 20-year veteran of comedy and nobody knows who you are, you just sort of fly under the radar doing the (comedy) clubs and one-night stands, and the bars and the corporate work, and you eek out a living.”
He has released six comedy albums with a seventh currently in the editing process. In addition, he has organized 11 annual fundraising events with over $22,000 in cash and items generated for a variety of local causes and charities. “I’m hoping for a good comeback with the 12th this fall. I just need to decide on a benefactor and work it out.”
Timmel’s books and CDs are all available exclusively through Amazon. “There’s a lot of complaints about Amazon, but it’s just easiest,” he said. “When I started as a comedian, if you wanted to release an album, you had to order 1,000 copies and then sell them. You couldn’t do little runs. With books, it was the same thing, you had to order 500 or 1,000 copies. Now everybody complains about Amazon, but as an author, you can buy one-offs. Because everything is digital, they digitize your book, when someone orders your book, they print it up and send it off.”
A downside to some is the digital print-on-demand model takes away book-signing events where readers can meet the author and have their copy autographed. Timmel, in his comedic style, sees that as a good thing, to the chagrin of his wife.
“They say, hey can you sign a copy for me (paperback editions are available in addition to Kindle versions), and I say yes I can, but that will only devalue the book. And then my wife says, ‘Stop being so depreciating! You worked hard on this book!’ And I’m like yeah, I have worked hard on this book, but I also have low self-esteem and if someone wants to say something nice about me, my knee-jerk response is to depreciate what they’ve said, and yeah… my wife hates it when I do that. And I’m very, very, very lucky to have her.”
Lydia, he proudly noted, designed the front cover and took the author’s photo for the back.
As for the book, Timmel said, “Hopefully it’s Goldilocks, it’s not too light, it’s not too thick, it’s not War and Peace, it’s not a pamphlet, it’s right in the middle… a decent-sized read that’s neither intimidating nor fast food that leaves you hungry again an hour later. It’s a hearty meal. If 100 people read this, and three buy the book, I’m happy with that. Thank you for buying it!”