Today I’m interviewing Harry Hallman, author of historical crime fiction “Mercy Row Retribution”. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Have you been writing for a long time?
I started writing fiction several years ago when I was 68. It was something I wanted to do for decades, but family and work took up all my time. I do love the creative process.
What inspired you to start a writing career?
I love stories whether they are told to me, written, recorded, televised or made into movies. I would hope that if I was born 5000 years ago I would have been one of those wandering story tellers. Maybe I was.
Is this book a stand alone or part of a series?
Mercy Row Retribution is the third book in my series Mercy Row. The three books span a time period from 1920 to 1975 and tell the story of a powerful North Philadelphia Irish crime family. The Byrnes family will do anything to protect their family and friends.
Why did you choose this genre?
I like action stories so I wanted to be sure my stories have plenty of mayhem and chaos. Also I grew up in the area of Philadelphia I write about and have met plenty of people who were on the wrong side of the law. It made sense to me to write about crime in Philadelphia.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read, Read, Read. Listen to stories, what they on TV and in the movies. Immerse yourself story telling. Then as Niki says Just Do It. Write and keep writing. Don’t wait like I did. Start when you are young so you can amass a body of work. While you are at it be sure you have a solid career because it is very hard to make money writing fiction. If you are in it for the money, you are in it for the wrong reason.
About the Book
Author: Harry Hallman
Genre: Historical 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.
In part two of Mercy Row Retribution, the third book in the Byrne family saga, it is April 1975 and South Vietnam is about to fall to the North Vietnamese communist. Gerry Amato fears that the communists will take revenge on the population and especially children, many of whom are Amerasian, at an orphanage he supported and volunteered at during his time as a Pilot. He orchestrates a rescue mission to retrieve the children and bring them to the United States. This takes him and his team into harm’s way in Thailand, across Cambodia and into worn torn Vietnam and back. The fate of 75 children and 30 adults rest squarely on Gerry’s shoulders.
Mercy Row Retribution includes a bonus section of short true stories of the author and his friends’ experiences growing up in North Philly in the 1940s and 50s. This is a true reflection of what life was like for kids from working class families growing up on the streets Philadelphia.
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.