Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 02/13/1995 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/13/1995 01:00AM

>Tim Willocks

THE DOCTOR IS IN

THERE IS MUCH THAT IS STRIKING about 37-year-old writer Tim Willocks—not just his copper-colored hair, his powdery white complexion or the scorpion tattooed on his left shoulder. Consider that Willocks's Green River Rising was a best-seller in Britain when published last year and that—recently released in the United States—the book has already earned close to $1 million, including movie-rights sales. And, along with this sudden fortune, Willocks gained notoriety after he was briefly linked with none other than Madonna, with whom he says, he is "still friendly."

Humble beginnings are one thing the two had in common. Willocks, a bricklayer's son, grew up Stalybridge, a mill town near Manchester, and chose medicine as a career, he says, because, "it was the only course that offered total study of being human." He worked as a psychiatric specialist after earning a medical degree in 1983 from London's University College and in the meantime drifted in and out of a childless two-year marriage. Always a lover of fiction, he wrote his first novel, Bad City Blues (1991), during his spare time. "I was not disillusioned with medicine, I was simply more illusioned with writing," says Willocks. The inspiration for Green River came from an article he read in an American medical journal about a psychiatrist's work with prison guards.

These days, Willocks's own work involves seeing patients two days a week at a London methadone clinic and working on the Green River screenplay. He denies a rumor that Madonna wants a role in the movie as the sole woman behind bars with 2,800 men, but he adds, "She is one of many great actresses who could play the part."

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