Sex and Thugs

Is there life after New Times? For alum Sean Rowe, there almost wasn't. While recovering from a run-in with a train -- yes, he was hit by a train, he's fine now, get over it -- Rowe realized it was time to write the damn book and make the transition from journalist to novelist. After a morphine-fueled vacation -- er, recovery -- spent watching Columbo and cherishing the company of visiting friends, Rowe began writing the page-turning thriller, Fever of Unknown Origin, which is now simply known as Fever.

New Times recently spoke with Rowe by phone from his home in North Carolina. "Well, hello darlin'!" he answered in a Southern drawl so thick and sweet you could slather it on your biscuits, and he spent an hour chatting about books, nutty journalists, and sex toys. "I was broke and looking for a job up here," Rowe says in defense of his copywriting stint for the infamous Adam & Eve catalog. Still recovering from his injuries, he went to work writing one-paragraph adult film descriptions. "I had to make each and every porn movie sound like it was the best thing since sliced bread, when in fact they're all pretty repetitious," Rowe states. "There are some of these movies that are pretty artfully done," but he agrees there's a lack of sexy librarian-themed films. "And librarians are so sexy!" he growls.

The well-read Rowe is a born and bred bibliophile. "My family was a bookish family. My mother was a librarian, my father was a linguist and professor of literature, and my sister is a poet, and a good one." Although he's more likely to check out Haruki Murakami or V.S. Naipaul than John Grisham, Rowe knows from signing a two-book deal with Little, Brown & Company that thrillers and mysteries are the moneymakers: "I rather calculatingly chose to write a thriller as my first book."

Even if you're not a fan of the genre, Fever is a great call-in-sick-on-a-rainy-day read about an ex-FBI agent, Matt Shannon, who's in charge of security for the world's largest cruise line. Shannon's stepbrother, Jack Fontana, is fresh out of prison and has returned to Miami to reel Matt into a plan to hijack a cruise ship chugging through the Caribbean with $30 million of smuggled Colombian drug money. "Fever is full of bloodshed, fistfights, shootings, crucifixions, and cannibals," adds Rowe. It has all the makings for a great action film -- including the sexy but troubled Julia, who has a mysterious connection to the stepbrothers -- but while the modest author is flattered, he isn't convinced it would be an easy sell: "I'm sure it's not cheap to rent a cruise ship."

What we're really looking forward to, though, is his comic account of the ins and outs of the sex toy industry. "While I was working my last year at Adam & Eve, we had a lady call ... and she was dead serious. She wanted to know if any of our dildos could be clipped onto the end of a Sawzall."