In the new cozy mystery, DEAD STOCK, author Tim Hall introduces us to Bert Shambles, an unique and extremely likable protagonist. I found myself hooked on Bert fairly early on and was pleased to learn that this is indeed book number one in the Bert Shambles Mystery Series. In fact, book number two in the series is nearly finished. I had the opportunity to submit a few questions to Tim for the blog tour he’s doing to support the launch of this entertaining book.
Thanks for being with us to today Tim. You’re written for a number of well-known publications. What was the genesis for you deciding to try your hand at writing mysteries?
I started out trying to write mysteries, back in my early 20s. I first wrote about the character of Bert Shambles in 1989, but didn’t have the skills to write genre yet. I always intended to get back to it but was too interested in trying everything else: journalism, poetry, experimental fiction, comics. I found that early fragment in a box at my mom’s house a few years back, and that was how DEAD STOCK finally came into being.
You describe your writing style as ‘screwball tragedy, and your protagonist, Bert Shambles, certainly fits that description. Can you give our readers a brief overview of Bert?
When the story begins Bert is stuck back in his small suburban Long Island town, having been sentenced to three years’ probation for a foolish act of chivalry that went horribly wrong. He has to stay employed and out of trouble for three years but of course, trouble finds him!
Bert’s an engaging, likeable character. Should readers assume this is the start of the Bert Shambles Mystery Series?
Thank you! I love Bert, and yes, I hope this is the beginning of a long and happy series. I have the second book almost finished and a third and fourth loosely sketched out.
Not really, though there are some incidental similarities: the fact that Bert has an old manual typewriter, which I did at that age, and the fact that he lives in a rooming-house, which I did briefly as well, and that he’s dying to get off of Long Island. Other than that, nothing much except that maybe we’re both a bit ditzy at times. The only character based on a real person, in fact, is Aku the Mystic. Of all the realistic characters in the book, it’s only the 6-foot-6, robe-wearing, Tarot-throwing wizard who is a photographic portrait of a real person I knew like that.
I’ve got to ask about Bert’s amazing car. That particular year and model was something I lusted over as a (much) younger man. Did you have one those?
No, but I sure wanted one! That also has a slight relation to reality, in that I used to mow the grass for an elderly couple who owned a mint 1969 Chevelle SS, I believe. It had about 20K on it. I always loved that car, and based Bert’s car on that, but I never had anything nicer than an old Toyota pick-up.
What kinds of things do you enjoy reading when you read?
I was a total omnivore for many years, but nowadays I read mostly cozies and other mysteries. I enjoy some graphic novels too.
The game of golf plays a significant role in DEAD STOCK. You’ve obviously spent some time around the course. Is playing golf something you enjoy doing in your spare time?
No, but when I was in high school I had a summer job where I would take a very elderly man to play golf, as his companion. Great job! I also got to drive his pale yellow 1970s Cadillac, which was fun. But I’ve never played since then–and now, come to think of it, I guess parts of my life seeped into this story more than I realized!
Speaking of spare time – What else do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love cooking, jogging through NYC’s Central Park, visiting galleries and museums. I see my friends as often as possible. I dabble a bit in painting, and I have a great time with my 7-year old son, who’s a dream. That’s on top of my demanding day job as a graphic artist. Other than that, nothing!
What’s next for Bert and when should readers expect his next adventure?
The next installment is called TIE DIED, and it has a musical theme. Bert teams up with the daughter of a flower-power musician who is being hounded by an aggressive memorabilia dealer. The dealer winds up dead, the evidence points to Bert, and once again he’s racing to clear his name.
Can you describe your writing style for our readers?
I work extremely hard on my humor writing, and since humor is mostly timing I’d say that if writers could be compared to musicians then I’d probably be a good drummer. I also think that sophistication is a beautiful word, and don’t like how it’s been demonized over the years as some kind of effete, intellectual game–especially by Ivy League politicians! So I’m proud to say that I have an extremely sophisticated sense of humor, from subtle wit and wordplay to banana peels and fart jokes and everything in between. Well-paced, funny, sophisticated but totally accessible writing. And romance! I nearly forgot to mention how much I love books with romantic elements. So put me down for that as well. Romantic Humorous Cozies…how’s that?
What’s the best way for readers to stay up to date with your work?
If someone figures that out, would they please let me know? I can’t stay up with it all–I guess http://timhallbooks.wordpress.com is the best way. I’m also on Goodreads.
Thanks so much for spending some time here today. As we close the interview what additional information would you like our readers to know about you and your new series?
Thank you for having me! The title DEAD STOCK is a term that refers to vintage clothing that has never been worn. It plays a big part in the book, and it’s also how the story itself came into being: an old, unpublished story that had sat in a box for nearly 25 years, was discovered, cleaned up and put up for sale. I hope people like how they look in it. It won’t make you look fat, I promise.
Dead Stock is available at Amazon.com
Blog Tour Participants
December 2 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview, Giveaway
December 3 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review, Interview, Giveaway
December 4 – Community Bookstop – Review
December 5 – Mysteries and Mayhem – Interview
December 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Interview, Giveaway
December 8 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK – Review
December 8 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Spotlight
December 9 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Guest Post
December 10 – Dr. Pepper Diva – Review, Giveaway
December 11 – readalot blog – Review, Giveaway
December 12 – Darla King Series – Review, Guest Post