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  1. Books

Get a character named for yourself in Michael Connelly's next book

Michael Connelly’s name auction will benefit Tampa’s Trinity Cafe.

Have you ever thought it would be fun to have a favorite novelist name a character after you? Now's your chance — and you can contribute to a worthy cause at the same time.

Internationally bestselling crime fiction author Michael Connelly is a longtime Tampa resident, and through April 12 fans can bid on an eBay auction of a character name in his next novel, with all of the proceeds benefitting Tampa's Trinity Cafe.

"I have a friend who volunteers there," Connelly says, and the friend asked him to participate in a fundraiser recently. "We branched this out" because he knows from experience that featuring the auction on his Facebook page will give it global exposure. "I've had winning bidders in South Korea, Portugal, all over."

The winning bidder for this auction will get to name a character in the latest adventure of Los Angeles Police Department Detective Harry Bosch, The Crossing, which will be published in November. Bosch is also in an Amazon Prime TV series; Connelly was speaking by phone from Los Angeles, where he's in "preproduction stuff" before the series begins shooting its second season in two weeks.

Connelly says he often raises funds for various causes by auctioning character names, and he's not alone. "Every author I know gets asked to do this." He has to be careful not to auction more than two or three characters per book, he says. "Names mean a lot. They can be metaphors; their sound is important."

One winning bidder gave him a Korean name to use in his last book, The Burning Room. "The first name was Gun. I knew everybody would say, that sounds like such a madeup name." So Connelly just rolled with it: "I made him a ballistics expert for the LAPD."

Trinity Cafe, north of downtown in the area between Ybor City and Tampa Heights, serves the homeless, hungry and working poor. Founded in 2001, it dishes up — on china and white tablecloths — more than 260 meals daily, prepared by a professional chef and served by volunteers.

Bidding on the eBay auction to benefit the cafe was more than $9,000 by Friday evening. The auction closes April 12; to bid, go to tbtim.es/g87.

Connelly is already writing The Crossing, but adding a character with a name chosen by the winning bidder "won't be a problem," he says. His deadline is the end of July, and "I'm way behind because of the (TV) show.

"But I'll finish it. We have a cover. Now I just have to write the book."

Contact Colette Bancroft at cbancroft@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.

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