The Next (and Last) Big Thing (1)

December 18th, 2012

I’m renovating this defunct virtual neighborhood because a wonderful writer, the Edgar- and Everything Else-winner Bruce DeSilva, appointed me the Next Big Thing.  Thanks, Bruce!

The Next Big Thing is a sort of blog chain letter in which writers (like me) get tagged by other writers (like Bruce) to answer some questions on their blog.  Once we get suckered, the person who suckered us (Bruce) posts his/her own answers to the questions on their blog– in Bruce’s case, that’s here–and, a week later, they point their readers to the sucker (me, in this case) as the next Next Big Thing, at which point those people with an unending appetite for reading writers’ answers to the same set of questions over and over again move ravenously on to my blog.


And then they’re supposed to leap eagerly to the writer(s) I have, in turn, designated the Next Big Thing.  Except that the first eight people I asked had already been Next Big Things, and no one else was willing to be so designated.  So the chain ends here, although I’m designating some Next Best Things (in my opinion) without even asking them.

The questions are all about my next book.  I have three “next books,” so I’ve chosen two of them, the next Junior Bender and the next Poke Rafferty, and am being the Next Big Thing twice.

Here are the questions and my answers.

What is the working title of your next book?

Little Elvises: A Junior Bender Mystery

Where did the idea come from?

Back in the 1960s, a bunch of modestly talented Italian kids from Philadelphia were positioned, one at a time, as the “new” Elvis by an ambitious and very smart manager.  They attained brief stardom, made some of the worst records in the history of electronic sound reproduction, and then were replaced by the next one in line.  I wanted to write something about the way American pop culture imitates itself, the way it stamps out little tin copies of anything original that makes money.  This is what it turned into.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a mystery with a laugh track.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

For Junior, Robert Downey, Junior, ten years ago, or Jonny Lee Miller now.  For the music promoter Vincent De Gaudio, the porn star Ron Jeremy.  For the recently-but-untearfully-widowed Ronnie Bigelow, Natasha Henstridge.  For the world’s oldest still-dangerous gangster, Erwin Dressler, Alan Arkin, made up to look older although Dr. Jack Kevorkian was the face I had in mind when I wrote him.

Natasha Henstridge

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Compelled to get an aging, probably ganged-up music promoter off the hook for a murder he might well have committed, Junior Bender enters the world of truly awful rock and roll in search of the answer to a question that’s fifty years old–and almost gets killed doing it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s going to be published by Soho Crime in January of the coming year.  The deal was made by my uber-agent, Bob Mecoy.

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

About eight weeks.  The Junior books, unlike the Poke Rafferty books, come very quickly.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Mysteries and thrillers by Donald E. Westlake, Jonathan Gash, and, to a lesser extent, Elmore Leonard.  They all write or wrote about people of dubious moral standing behaving more or less badly in a world that doesn’t deserve much better.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

All the Juniors come from Junior’s voice, telling me a story. My role is to listen and get it down and then relate it to something that interests me (like that little bit about American pop culture above) because tying the story to my own interests guarantees that my energy won’t flag.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I actually listened to quite a bit of this music before and during the writing of the book, and I think I deserve a readership of awed millions for having endured that in the name of art.

Next Big Things:

If there were any justice, the Next Big Things would be:

Edward Wright, author of the John Ray Horn mysteries and some compelling stand-alones–most recently From Blood; and

John Falch, whose phenomenally ambitious first novel, The Yellow Bar, was one of my top reads of 2012.

Both tremendous writers.



6 Responses to “The Next (and Last) Big Thing (1)”

  1. Tom Logan Says:

    Welcome back. I was one day short of not checking your blog EVERY DAY FOR MORE THAN THREE MONTHS! Would like to see some interesting tidbits every now and then in addition to the chain mail blog “let’s hype each others’ books.” Glad you’re still around, Tim.

  2. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Ah, well, Tom, I’m glad I’m still around, too. If it makes you feel better, this is the last chain mail blog for me. I appreciate Bruce’s invitation and it was good to get a chance to say something nice about Ed Wright and John Falch, but life is too short.

    And that’s why I haven’t been here much. If you read the second of these posts with some attention to the space between the lines, you know that the new Poke is killing me–and what’s more, it’s killing me 24 hours a day.

    I will keep this space more active, though, and thanks for continuing to check in.

  3. EverettK Says:

    Whoa! Scare the crap right out of my pant legs!!! A new Blog Cabin post??? It truly must be the end of the world tomorrow! 🙂 Welcome back!

    I have to agree with all three recommendations: Little Elvises was a great follow-up to Crashed, and Edward Wright and John Falch ARE great writers (I’ve read the first John Ray Horn book, Clea’s Moon, and Falch’s The Yellow Bar, both on my list of “best reads of 2012”).

    As for the new Poke killing you, they say that you should work at something that you’re willing to die for, because each day you ARE slowly dying, one day more behind you and one less in front of you, so WHATEVER you’re doing, you ARE dying for it. Aren’t you glad that you love to write??? 🙂

  4. Bonnie Says:

    If I could nominate a couple of Next Best Things, too: Have you read The Stranger you Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams? A 2nd one is also out (Stranger in the Room, I think). Awesome.
    And though he’s not new per se, I don’t think he’s well known in the USA yet: Deon Meyer. I’m kind of on a South Africa kick (again) now, and he is really top-notch.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Everett, thanks for all the agreement. This forum is always open to people who agree with me. And thanks also for the cheery view on life. I actually had something more drama-queenish in mind than the slow erasure of time. (You may not use that. I’m saving it.)

    Bonnie, will look at Williams. I’m already a big, big Deon Meyer fan. And thanks for checking in, both of youse.

  6. Beth Says:

    “Murder with a laugh track” describes all your books. The best part is that the “laugh-out-loud” lines sneak up on the reader.

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