Woodstock’s Craig Hallenstein is busy.
The new author has been on the literary circuit in recent months to promote his debut novel, “The Dolphin.” Last week, he was in New Orleans for what he described as “two book signings, a great party and Stevie Wonder.” (The famed New Orleans Jazz Fest happened to be running at the same time.)
“I’ve been coming down [to New Orleans] since 1986, and the first time I ever came down and the cab driver pulled into the French Quarter, I just got chills running up and down my spine,” Hallenstein said. “That was it. I felt like I was home, and yet I’d never been here before.”
Hallenstein owns several properties in the Big Easy now, and he considers the city a second home. So it makes sense he would choose New Orleans as the setting for his first novel, a book he said took nine months to write and nine years to edit.
“I grew up in a family of writers. I’ve always written, but it’s always been on the side because I needed to raise five kids, I needed to earn a living,” Hallenstein, a psychologist by training, said.
“The Dolphin” is a psychological thriller-meets-crime mystery that centers around a prodigy whose promising life takes a turn for the worse when he wrongly ends up on a sex offender registry at the age of 18.
“I like the metaphor of the dolphin, the innocent fish being caught when police go after sharks,” Hallenstein said. “They occasionally will catch in the net innocent people who have been relegated to sex offender registration who, in my mind, don’t deserve it.”
Although this is his first novel, Hallenstein is earning plaudits for “The Dolphin.” The book received an honorable mention at the 2016 Los Angeles Book Festival, and the author recently was featured on a panel at the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.
Closer to home, Hallenstein will appear at Beloit College’s Turtle Creek Bookstore, 444 E. Grand Ave., Beloit, Wis., from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 11. In October, he’ll be signing books at The Book Cellar in Chicago.
Hallenstein said he’s been happy with his readers’ response to the book, particularly in online reviews.
“I spent nine years not knowing if anyone would ever like this book, how people would take to it, and when the Amazon reviews came out, I finally had my answer. People liked the story.”