I first met 2011 Edgar Nominee Tim Hallinan through friends from southern California, on Facebook, three or four years ago. I was in the process of reinventing myself as a writer after my nearly 40 year career in technology came crashing to the ground with the aid of an auto immune disease that was slowly taking my eye sight and wearing at my body. I was buying books at the Dollar Store to read and review. Funds were low. Tim was going through changes of his own at the time, but of course I didn’t know this.
After around ten critically received novels that only sold moderately he had an idea for a new series of stories. “I started to hear the voice that led me into to the Junior Bender series while I was writing Breathing Water, the third Poke Rafferty novel. I let it tell me a short story about a crook and his hamster and then shut it out until I’d finished Breathing Water. Then I sat down and wore my fingers out for six weeks, and when I got up, I had written Crashed.” Tim says.
The problem was his publisher didn’t like the story and showed even less interest in a potential series. So he fulfilled his contract with that publisher and decided to self publish, in eBook only, what would turn into The Junior Bender series. But self publishing is a difficult path to follow to success, especially for an author who is used to a traditional publisher doing all the grunt work: getting the book into stores, promoting the book through press releases, book tours and more importantly getting it read and reviewed by print and online reviewers.
This is where I come in. It turns out that Tim was friends with the same crowd who had befriended me back in the 1980s in the Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles. These friends were aware of my struggle to reinvent myself as a writer of book reviews, and they also had the skinny on Tim’s foray into self publishing. It was only natural that they would suggest we get together. After a short email conversation, Tim sent me Little Elvises, the second book in the series. I found the book hilarious, extremely well written and what was almost more impressive at the time, beautifully laid out, professionally edited and professionally presented which wasn’t always the case in 2011 when the eBook phenomenon was just getting launched. I wrote a review in which I compared the book to Johnathan Latimer’s William Crane and called it cynically funny as Donald Westlake’s John Dortmunder stories. Apparently a lot of other book reviewers found Junior Bender equally praiseworthy. The Milwaukee Journal-Senntinel said, “Think of him as a detective for delinquents, a fixer for felons.” New York Times Best Selling author, Julia Spencer-Fleming said, “If Carl Hiaasen and Donald Westlake had a literary love child he would be Timothy Hallinan.”
It was about this time, and powered by such rave reviews, that Soho Press came on the scene. They not only loved the Junior Bender books, but they picked up on Tim’s latest entry into the Poke Rafferty series, The Fear Artist (Poke Rafferty). The Fear Artist is Tim at the height of his craft. It is noir perfected. The book crosses over from a first class international thriller in to the realms of literature. I was lucky enough to get to write a review for the book last August, and I had to agree with Ken Bruen (who would dare disagree with the Irish master of noir fiction?) who said, “John Burdett writes about Bangkok. Tim Hallinan is Bangkok.”
For the release of The Fame Thief (Junior Bender #3), Tim’s publisher, Soho Crime, pulled out all the stops. Advertising in major media markets, radio spots, advance review copies were made available and they have sent him on a national tour. But what’s more, it can now be revealed that his wonderful series that was originally turned down by a major publisher not only has received the support of Soho, his fans new and old, and book shops across the country but Lionsgate, the creator of some of the best shows on TV – Madmen, Anger Management, and the Emmy Award Winning Weeds – has bought the film and television rights to the Junior Bender series.
Taking a short break on his nation-wide tour promoting The Fame Thief (Junior Bender #3) Tim will be stopping in Portland, Oregon on Monday but there are no book events planned here. On Tuesday Tim will be signing The Fame Thief at Seattle’s premier mystery book store, appropriately called, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, at 12pm. The store is located at 117 Cherry St. in Seattle, WA; call (206) 587-5737 for further details. His recent success is not due to being an overnight sensation but through hard work, deft craftsmanship, the support of a great publisher and that quick witted, smart mouthed oddball, Junior Bender, who is one of the most refreshing characters to steal into the pages of a book in a very long time.
On Thursday, July 18th, Tim will be in Houston, TX for a discussion with Julia Heaberlin at Murder by the Book (6:30pm, 2342 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77005 (713-524-8597) and then he’ll be heading north to Austin, TX to Noir at the Bar Austin. On Saturday, July 20, he’ll be appearing with Marcia Clark & Josh Stallings, presented by MysteryPeople, Opal Divine’s Penn Field at 7pm: the address is 3601 S. Congress Ave. Austin, TX 73301 (512) 707-0237. Then he finally gets to head home to L.A., but not before a quick stop on Saturday July 27, 2pm at Book ‘Em 1118 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030 (626-799-9600). If you miss any of the appearances then be sure to pick up the book or better yet all three books in the series. Junior Bender is bound to be the topic of conversation amongst book lovers and crime fiction fans for a long, long time.