Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Timothy Hallinan is the Edgar-nominated author of THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, the fourth in his series of Bangkok thriller featuring American travel writer Poke Rafferty.  Most recently, he's the editor of SHAKEN: STORIES FOR JAPAN, a collection of original short stories by top mystery writers that was designed as a fund-raiser for the relief effort in northeastern Japan.


When twenty writers came together to create a book of short stories to raise money for relief efforts in the Japanese disaster area, we all knew this was a challenging process.

For one thing, writers tend to be individualists, unlikely to show up for breakfast all together at 7:45 wearing matching shirts.

For another, we were spread all over the place – on both coasts of the United States and in the middle, in Australia, Hong Kong, Greece, Paris, Bangkok.  We could communicate by group e-mail and try to reach consensus on things that way, but as anyone who's done that knows, all it takes is one or two (reasonable) questions, and the whole discussion wobbles off into strange new channels.

Especially with writers.

So we decided to try to keep it simple.  Here's the description of the stories we were going to write:

It can be anything you like, mystery, nonmystery, past, present, future.  It should just have something to do with Japan.

How long?

Long enough.

Think of all the things that could have been said: it should be uplifting, it should end optimistically, it should give the reader something to think about that's related to the relief effort, it should, it should, it should.

But we didn't do that. In this, as in every other aspect of the project, we just trusted each other to do the right thing, and do it the absolute best we could.

And did they—meaning my brother and sister writers—ever.

For the record, here are the writers whose wonderful stories make up SHAKEN: STORIES FOR JAPAN.

Brett Battles
Cara Black
Vicki Doudera
Dianne Emley
Dale Furutani
Timothy Hallinan
Stefan Hammond
Rosemary Harris
Naomi Hirahara
Wendy Hornsby
Ken Kuhlken
Debbi Mack
Adrian McKinty
I.J. Parker
Gary Phillips
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Jeffrey Siger
Kelli Stanley
C.J. West
Jeri Westerson

Missing from that list is Gar Anthony Haywood, who decided at the end that his story didn't work but who contributed a brilliant cover design instead.

Since I was the editor, I was sitting in the middle of the circle, and only I saw the material as it came in.  And it was instantly clear that everyone was working on tiptoe and that we were going to have a great collection.

And we do.  I can say with all immodesty that SHAKEN: STORIES FOR JAPAN would be a steal at $8.99.  Instead, it's only $3.99, and that money goes to the 2011 Japan Relief Fund administered by the Japan America Society of Southern California, which has already sent $750,000 to nonprofit organizations working in the area.

You can buy it for the Kindle on Amazon and support the relief effort here.  If you have a Nook,  buy it anyway and e-mail me at and I'll send you an ePub version you can read.

When it came time to publicize the book's availability, I went all control freak, trying to organize the effort.  Everyone very wisely ignored me and blogged, tweeted, facebooked, and generally talked it up to their hearts' content.  And bingo, it opened in the low 2000s on Amazon, went to number 4 for story collections, and has been hovering in the good-sales area ever since.

But it could sell MUCH better, and I'm—we're—hoping you can help with that.  Buy it.  Tell your friends to buy it.  Remember, nobody gets a penny from this except people who really, really need it.

SHAKEN is art from the heart, but it needs other hearts to pass it along.

Thanks in advance.


jenny milchman said...

Your success is predictable, but staggering, Tim & all the collected authors (plus Gar). What an array of talent! And what a great cause. I am telling everyone I can. We are the world indeed.

Patty said...

I bought it, haven't got to read it yet but it is waiting patiently on my Kindle.

Jeffrey Siger said...

It was an honor to be part of the team, TIm, but it never would have happened without you. Thanks, my friend, for herding cats with such aplomb.

Peg Brantley said...

What a remarkable use of talent and technology.

Well done.

Sasscer Hill said...

What a wonderful thing you have done! I have heard so many great things about many of the authors in this anthology. I'm going to use my netbook's Kindle app and buy this anthology!

Beth said...

All the stories are wonderful and of the type that are best enjoyed when read more than once.

I read SHAKEN in one sitting because I couldn't find any reasonable place to stop. Now, I am going back, opening the book randomly, and reading again to get a fuller sense of the story behind the story.

Promotion is a necessity for a cause so deserving of support. Does anyone have any connections in the media? How about some billboards? Buses would be great especially if people could tape a piece of paper with the name of the book on the outside of the Kindle.

I don't really have any good ideas but I'm sure there are people out there who do. Think of the children and put all misgivings aside and plunge into the publicity arm of this project.

Timothy Hallinan said...

Hi, everyone, and special thanks to Kaye. I tried to leave a comment yesterday but was defeated.

I just wanted to say thanks and to remind everyone that even though the images have faded in our minds, the reality still faces the people in the disaster zone. This is when it gets hard to raise funds, so please suggest to your friends that they buy SHAKEN.

Anonymous said...

It sounds great. It's on my to-buy, to-read and to-review list.
Best of luck,
Pat Browning