Hello Intellectual Minds!
Normally, Weekend's Book Affair wouldn't post in the middle of the week, but you're a part of a very special Blog Tour! Sage reached out to us to host this special guest author. Well, of course, we love to do anything to help out an author. And boy are you in for a treat! Mello & June is not only about entertainment, but more importantly, literacy! This author we're about to introduce to you is very talented, an ex-serviceman, humbled and has it going on in more ways than one. If you don't believe me, take a look for yourself and make sure you download his latest novel, Mercy Row Retribution. You can find all his social media connections and book info. at the end of the post. Please follow the links, buy the book and reach out to Harry. Without further ado, please give our special guest a warm welcome. Sit back, relax and enjoy!
Weekend's Book Affair
Proudly Presents, Author, Harry Hallman, Jr.
Book Description/Genre: Crime Fiction
While serving as a pilot during the Vietnam War, Gerry Amota, the grandson of Jacob Byrne, the head of a powerful North Philadelphia Irish crime family, seizes an opportunity to create a lucrative marijuana smuggling operation. It's 1967 and under the secrecy of a classified military operation and with the assistance of a French Marseille Mob, who owns plantations in Cambodia, he is able to send tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana a month to Philadelphia. His grandfather's criminal enterprise distributes the drug to a population who has developed and insatiable appetite for the marijuana.
A rival French from Paris gang tries to force Amato to buy their product and this triggers war between the Byrne family and the Paris mob. From the steamy jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia, to the streets of Saigon, Paris and Philadelphia the ruthless actions of the Paris mob threatens to destroy the Byrne family. Gerry Amato orchestrates merciless campaign of retribution against his foes in order to save himself and his family.
Get to Know Harry
Hallman was born in 1944 and raised in the Kensington section of North Philadelphia. Hallman's father was Harry Hallman, Sr., a champion pool player who also owned a poolroom called Circle Billiards, located at Allegheny Avenue and Lee Street in Philadelphia. The younger Hallman spent many hours after school at his father's poolroom and watching his father play in other poolrooms in Philadelphia and New Jersey. The people he met, some belonging to the real K&A Gang, influenced his writing of the Mercy Row series.
After a year of being an apprentice plumber he served four years in the U.S. Air Force, including two tours in South Vietnam as a photographer. His first tour was at Ton Son Nhat Airbase where he processed film shot by U2 Aircraft over North Vietnam and China. He returned to the same place for his second tour, but processed film shot by U.S. fighter recon aircraft. He is married to Duoc Hallman, whom he met in Vietnam, and has two children, Bill and Nancy, and one grandchild, Ava. Hallman is a serial entrepreneur who has created several marketing services and digital media companies and continues to work as a marketing consultant.
Harry graciously took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us and open up about his writing and life. Take a look!
1. After reading the synopsis for your novel, I was thinking to myself what an interesting man Harry Hallman, Jr. is! That is, until I realized that was the synopsis and not your bio. However, after having read your bio, I was even more impressed! What was it like growing up in the Kensington section of North Philadelphia?
The area of Kensington in North Philly was funded in 1732 by the English. By the 1850 large numbers of Irish immigrants ended up there when they left Ireland during the Potato famine of 1847- 1852. Life for the poor in Ireland at that time was incredible hard. The famine caused starvation and disease killing over one million people. Some say that figure is much higher. British oppression made the famine even worse. Millions left Ireland for various parts of the world such as the US, Canada and Australia seeking a better life. Unfortunately many who came to the US did not find it.
The power structure in the USA was still in the hands of British decedents and unfortunately they viewed the Irish as low class, uneducated people only good for hard labor and other blue collar jobs. Kensington was always a working class part of the city and had many many factories. In fact most of the homes in the area were built for factory workers. These homes were two or three stories (called Father, Son and Holly Ghost homes). They were 16-18 feet wide by 30-40 long. My first book in the Mercy Row series Mercy Row deals with this.
By the time I came along things had changed for the Irish, but the factories and working class people remained. On my street alone we had Irish, Hungarian, Polish, Jewish, Italian, mongrels like me, and British Americans. Most were born here but some were immigrants. As you walked the street you could smell cabbage cooking, tomato sauce, roast beef and many other ethnic foods.
As a kid we were out and about on our own. On weekends and after school we left the house as early as possible and came home only to eat and left again. We were out so much we smelled like the street. As a boy in North Philly I learned how to curse, how to drink and how to smoke cigarettes.
In my novel Mercy Row Retribution I have a bonus section after the main novel ends. It is a series of shorts that describe what my life was like in my formative years. My life and every other boys as well.
2. Your father, Harry Hallman, Sr., was a champion pool player. How much of watching your father and traveling with him to tournaments helped bring about the stories you write?
Dad didn't like to do tournaments. He did a few and won the Championship of Philadelphia (Philly was a pool capital in those days) but said if people got to know how good he was they wouldn't play him for money. I saw a lot of that and hanging out in the poolroom he owned did influence my series Mercy Row. For instance there really was a criminal gang called the K&A Gang. I am sure I met many of them, but of course, they wouldn't admit it. My Dad would sometimes take me on his rounds so to speak. I am not sure what the rounds were but we would stop at various poolrooms and also at people's offices he knew on Samson Street or as it is called Jewelers Row. They all treated me very well. I remember being given a small gold bracelet once, but mostly it was food items. I especially remember that every year on Christmas a man gave us a New York Cheese cake. The best cheese cake in the world. The people I met on the "rounds" were often characters and as such ripe for me to use in my books.
3. Can you tell us a little bit about Mercy Row Retribution and how you went about bringing this story to life?
Mercy Row Retribution is the third book of the series. In book one I explored the beginnings of the K&A Gang and (1920-30s) the Byrne crime family. In book two Mercy Row Clann the children of Jacob Byrne were coming of age (1943-44) and taking on family and gang responsibilities. Number three sees the grand children of Jacob Byrne ascend to power (1968-75). Gerry the Grandson of Jacob Byrne and Anthony Amato, the head of the mafia in South Philly, out of a sense of patriotic duty, becomes a USAF pilot. While stationed in Vietnam during the war he discovers there is an abundance of Marijuana just at a time when the American people were popularizing this drug. He sees an opportunity to do what his grandfather did during prohibition, namely supply something that was not legal to people who really wanted it. He starts a smuggling operation. This, of course, leads to mayhem when a rival grower demands Gerry buy from him.
In part two of the novel (1975) the war in Vietnam is winding down and the communist are talking over the country. Gerry has had a long tradition of helping a certain Orphanage and decides to do something neither the Vietnamese nor the U.S. Government is willing to do. He devises a plan to rescue the children and nuns in the orphanage and bring them to the U.S. It is a dangerous mission.
As I mentioned before I have a bonus section in the book that describes various real stories of me growing up in North Philly.
4. Is this your first novel written?
No I have written Mercy Row, Mercy Row Clann and Mercy Row Retribution and a short story WORD. All are available on Amazon and Audible.com
5. How many years have you been writing?
I started writing novels when I was 68 so that would be 4 years now.
6. Outside of writing, what other talents do you possess?
I was and still am a marketing specialist. Over the years I have started and owned several marketing services companies.
7. Are there any other genres you write in besides crime fiction?
Not at this time, also though my next is turning about to be an action drama of shorts.
8. What are you most passionate about?
I guess I would have to say writing. Of course, my family comes first.
9. What does the future hold for Author, Harry Hallman?
I have three books concepts. One I have started and it's about an 1880's Irishman that eventually ends up in Philly. His travels take him to French Indo China as part of the French Foreign Legion, Cuba as a member of the American forces and finally Philly.
I also have a fourth and final concept for the Mercy Row Series.
And I want to write a novel about the exploits of my grandfather (I never met him) who was a baseball player and actor in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He played for the Phillies as well as several other teams, and traveled the country in a burlesque show. He was even in three silent movies. It will be fiction with some actual events. Working title is Billy.
Find the Book/Contact Info.:
Email Hallman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep informed at www.mercyrow.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mercyrownovel.
On Amazon: http://amzn.to/1nmuigR
Harry, thank you for stopping by Mello & June, It's a Book Thang! and hanging out with us. We wish you much success! Please stop by and let us know how you're doing. You prove a point to many--that age doesn't matter! You can write at any time in life. The literary world is happy to have your voice. What an incredible journey you've been living, and may that journey continue for many more years to come. And last, but certainly not least, THANK YOU for your years of service to our Country! God Bless!
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer
Never Let Age Define Your Possibilities!
The Only Person Holding YOU Back
Get Out of Your Way!