Mark S. Bacon began his career as a newspaper reporter covering the police beat. After writing news and features at two newspapers, he moved to copywriting when he joined the advertising department of Knott's Berry Farm, a large theme park down the road from Disneyland in Orange County, Calif. Bacon wrote commercials and ads and he directed special events.
Later, his career moved into other forms of communication, but his early background covering a daily police beat and working in a theme park led him to create Nostalgia City, the setting for his new mystery novel.
He is the author of several business books, one of which was selected as a best business book of the year by the Library Journal and printed in four languages. He is also the author of two collections of short mystery fiction including, Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words.
Welcome to the blog, Mark.
Give a short synop of your recently published book, Death in Nostalgia City.
Ex-cop Lyle Deming talks to himself. And he wears a rubber band on his wrist—therapy for stress. He thinks he’s found the ideal new job to cure his chronic anxiety. He’s driving a cab in a theme park resort that lets him relive a quieter time. Nostalgia City is a meticulous re-creation of an entire small town from the early 1970s, complete with period, clothes, cars, music, stores, hotels, fads—the works.
The relaxed atmosphere is just what Lyle needs, until rides are sabotaged and tourists killed. Iron-willed “Max” Maxwell, the billionaire founder of Nostalgia City, drafts Lyle into investigating—unofficially. When more “accidents” happen and employees get jumpy, Lyle gets help. Maxwell persuades his PR director, 6-foot, 2 ½ -inch Kate Sorensen, to deflect the horrific media coverage—and help discover who is behind the deaths.
Lyle and Kate scour the Arizona desert—the setting of the theme park—and travel to Boston and back in a race to uncover a deadly conspiracy.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your book?
Lyle is really a combination of several people I’ve known with a healthy dose of my own psyche tossed in. I think I have a type A personality at times and, like Lyle, seek peace whenever I can find it. Some of Kate’s opinions about the news media are similar to mine—I was a PR manager for a time, after I was a reporter—but for the most part, she’s a combination of two women I’ve known and admire.
Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special place with us?
As to the research, I stayed in Boston twice and thought it was an ideal setting for several reasons. First, it forms a good contrast to Nostalgia City which is a small town located in the open spaces of northern Arizona. Second, I especially like the New England city’s downtown, with its winding, unparallel streets, modern glass buildings next to centuries-old historic structures and a mixture of city hubbub and Boston Common calm. The geography of eastern Massachusetts fits the plot of the story as well. Or perhaps the geography influenced the plot. Which came first?
Inspiration also came from the southwest where I’ve lived for a long time. Parts of old Route 66 run across northern Arizona from the New Mexico border to California at the Colorado River, connecting the past with the present in bits of cracked asphalt and retro diners. Nostalgia City fits there for many reasons, not the least of which is I needed lots of inexpensive land to build the theme park and resort.
How would you characterize your book in terms of genre?
I would call this a suspenseful mystery. Or perhaps a mysterious suspense story. I wrote the type of story I enjoy reading. I want an author to create a puzzle, stir in lots of clues and suspects for me to consider. That’s the intellectual side. But I don’t want it all to happen in a manor house. Action and suspense are necessary to involve the emotions and persuade you to identify with the protagonists’plight. I hope Death in Nostalgia City appeals to both the head and the heart.
Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
I store my ideas in my head only long enough to get them down on paper. Eventually, I collect the scraps of paper, with ideas hastily scrawled on them, and enter the details in files in my computer.
At first, your mention of a spreadsheet sounded strange, but it could work for me. I’ve always written detailed outlines of my books. When I was writing nonfiction I would create lengthy outlines, covering many pages, for each chapter in my book. Then when I got started I knew exactly where I was going. I had made note of everything.
When I started doing fiction I followed the same strategy. But things happen. I’m not saying my characters did things I didn’t expect, but circumstances change—especially in a mystery/suspense story—and at times my outline went out the window.
I read in a variety of genres, mainstream fiction, historical fiction, and history to name a few. I’ve recently read Team of Rivals, Unbroken, Destiny of the Republic, Water for Elephants, Shadow of the Wind and Thunderstruck. Obviously I love mysteries and suspense. I read a broad range of authors there including Robert Harris, J.A. Jance, Harlen Coben, Scott Turow, John Grisham, Elmore Leonard, Bill Moody, David Morrell, Nelson DeMille, David Baldacci, Stieg Larsson and the list goes on. Some favorites of the past include the wonderful Graham Greene and 30s and 40s noir master Cornell Woolrich.
Are your books available in print and e-book formats?
Death in Nostalgia City is available in print and in all popular e-book formats for Kindle, Nook, iPad and more.
Here are links:
Congratulations on the book, Mark, and continued success!