Illustration by Katy Parker
Your favorite member of the English Department promotes his new book
By Leo Portugal
CSULB English Professor Tyler Dilts held a reading of A King of Infinite Space, a mystery novel about a hardboiled detective, at the Borders bookstore at the Pike in Long Beach last Friday. Seats filled up quickly, and it was standing room only, reminding me of the similarly-crowded Union Weekly meeting I had been to just hours before.
I sat in the front row and listened to Dilts read a serious passage from his novel. I sat there with an assuredly serious look on my face and my arms crossed across my chest. Beyond Dilts, a cute girl stood in the dark just outside the store window, arms crossed across her chest and a mockingly serious look on her face, staring right at me. We both broke into smiles, and she walked away. I could have tried to investigate this pretty lady further, but Dilts was telling tonight’s detective story, not I.
Dilts continued with a second passage, which showed a side of the novel’s humor and revealed how vividly the story is set in Long Beach. A King of Infinite Space revolves around detective Danny Beckett’s investigation of the murder of a high school English teacher. “It’s a very thinly veiled Wilson High School,” Dilts said. He focuses on evoking this setting, taking detective Beckett on walks down 2nd Street to various distinct Long Beach spots.
This is a very Long Beach story beyond just the setting. Its origins are deeply rooted in Long Beach. Dilts began writing A King of Infinite Space when he was a graduate student at CSULB earning his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. Years later, after Dilts had became an English professor at CSULB, his office-mate, Paul Tayyar, asked Dilts about his novel manuscript and took it home to read it. Two weeks later, Tayyar told Dilts he wanted to publish it.
Since then, the novel has been picked up by AmazonEncore, and just last week it received an extremely positive review in the Los Angeles Times. Dilts’ novel now reaches a market far beyond the captive audience of students in his classrooms.
When asked whom he would cast as detective Beckett, Dilts replied, “The Office’s John Krasinski or Rubicon’s James Badge Dale.” And then he added, after the positive review in the Los Angeles Times, he has actually been contacted by production companies about possible screenplay adaptations of his book. “Fingers crossed,” Dilts said.
Dilts is currently working on The Pain Scale, the second novel in his Danny Beckett series. For more information about Tyler and his work and for a recommended soundtrack to the novel, visit tylerdilts.blogspot.com.