Author of the Month: Tyler DiltsPublished: October 15, 2010
A King of Infinite Space
Tyler Dilts, lecturer, English
Published in the summer of 2010 by AmazonEncore, A King of Infinite Space is the first novel for Dilts, who saw his short story “Thug: Signification and the Deconstruction of Self” selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2003. Long Beach homicide detective Danny Beckett is shocked at the brutal classroom murder of high school teacher Elizabeth Williams. What is the significance of the victim’s left hand, taken by the killer as a grisly trophy? As Beckett delves deeper into the investigation, he realizes that ghosts from his past are rising, transforming his hunt for the schoolteacher’s murderer into a personal quest for redemption. “My father was a Los Angeles deputy sheriff, and throughout most of my youth, I wanted to be a police officer,” said Dilts, who joined the university in 2001. “Although my career goals changed, I was left with a considerable amount of background knowledge that I felt I could put to good use. And it didn’t hurt that my favorite writers included the likes of James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly. It was settled, I thought. I’ll write a police procedural–I know enough about it (with a fair amount of research thrown in) to sound authoritative about it, and what could be farther from an English grad student’s personal experience than a story about investigating homicides?” Dilts felt confident he had achieved a reassuring distance from his detective when he got a surprise. “When the novel was finished and my friends and family began to read it, they said ‘Danny sounds just like you.’ One by one they pointed out details and ideas and jokes and phrases that they’d heard me express, usually more than once. And a few of those closest to me commented on the similarity of our voices and perspectives. Eventually, I had to admit it. They were right.” Their judgment was confirmed by a peek through a family photo album which revealed a photo of Dilts at the age of 4 when he lost his police officer father. “In it I wore a clip-on tie, a makeshift shoulder holster complete with cap gun, and an expression befitting the most serious of detectives. It was me I was looking at, but I couldn’t help thinking it might just as well have been Danny Beckett,” he said. He has a bachelor’s degree in theater in 1993 from CSULB. He worked in Los Angeles Theater for several years before returning to CSULB for his M.A. and M.F.A., which he completed in 2001.