Students may know him as Dr. Hofmeister, but classics professor Tim Hofmeister is becoming known to a whole new audience by a different name: Tim Paulin, the pseudonym he uses when writing his crime novels.
“It’s a passion,” he says. “Well, maybe an obsession.” His first book, “The Trouble with Tripoli,” was published in 2013 and the second, “The Trouble with Trikala,” is just out. “I’m thinking maybe five or six more for the series,” Hofmeister says.
The series, centered around college-professor-turned-detective Wilson Knightly, was born after Hofmeister studied modern Greek over the course of three summers. The Great Lakes College Association’s New Directions Initiative, a program dedicated to helping faculty push the boundaries of their expertise, provided the opportunity.
“Between the economic crisis in Greece and some of the social issues presently at large, during my time in Greece I found a lot of things I wanted to talk about.” Hofmeister said. “I’m not under the impression that the attention my books give to the problems will solve them, but I wanted to add my voice to the conversation.”
The choice to use the crime fiction genre to accomplish that goal may seem unusual, but it’s actually not that uncommon. Hofmeister points to books like “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” as evidence that serious writers all over are picking up the genre to react to the crises affecting their countries.
“I think it takes a genre like crime fiction, a genre dedicated to the dark side of things, to respond to the dire circumstances some places are facing today,” Hofmeister said. “Which isn’t to say that things are worse today than they ever have been; I think it’s more a matter of society being less tolerant of the bad than ever before.”
Nevertheless, the role of crime-novel author isn’t one that Hofmeister had ever imagined himself filling. “There’s a sense of justice to it though,” he said. “I’ve taught literature for a long time, and now I’m finally getting my chance to join the chorus.”
Students will have the chance to learn about crime fiction from a professor who has published in the genre. Hofmeister teaches a writing workshop titled “The Scene of the Crime: Classic and Contemporary Fiction.”