Today mystery and suspense author Mark S. Bacon sits down for an interview. Learn more about Mark and his books at his website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
Relatively recently. I’ve been a writer all my life, newspaper reporter, copywriter, business book author. I started writing and publishing mystery flash fiction and moved on to mystery novels.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I sold my first (nonfiction) book by writing query letters to three big New York publishers. Selling a novel is a different animal. That took about 18-24 months.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
Traditional. My publisher is Black Opal Books.
Where do you write?
In my home office with my golden retriever at my feet and a concrete crow statue looking over my shoulder.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Although I learned to write in a noisy newsroom, I’ve become spoiled at my home office. Silence is best. However, I sometimes listen to mood music, depending on what I’m writing. For one chapter in the book I’m working on now, I listened to Ravi Shankar.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
One of my two main characters, ex-cop Lyle Deming, is plagued by anxiety. I have problems with anxiety occasionally, too, but I meditate. Lyle’s therapy is running. And gin and tonics.
Describe your process for naming your character?
How many people do you know named Lyle? It’s a retro name to go with my retro setting. Also, his initials are LSD. I was going to use that in the plot of my first Nostalgia City mystery but never worked it in.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Much of the story is set in the fictional Arizona theme park of Nostalgia City. It’s a detailed re-creation of what a small town would have looked like in the 1970s.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Well, the quirkiest belongs to the killer, but readers will have to figure that one out for themselves. Otherwise, I’d say Lyle’s quirk is that he talks to himself. Aloud. In public.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Who did you say you worked for again?
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
You could pick any PI novel by Ross Macdonald. He was the master of language and characters, not to mention atmosphere.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
In one of my careers I taught college journalism. I wish I had stayed in touch with more of my students. If you’re out there, you can find my email address on my website. Please write.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
We’re not talking politics here, right? Aside from that, I’d say people who ask me how many books I’ve sold and if Hollywood is calling.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
An Adirondack chair, plenty of books, and a lifetime supply of Krispy Kremes.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I lasted a week at a small newspaper in Los Angeles where my primary job was to
rewrite stories out of the LA Times.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Ocean or mountains?
Although I live at 5,000 feet, I’d say “ocean.”
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
What’s on the horizon for you?
The next installment of my mystery series concerns a latter-day hippie pot promoter and a less-than-ethical former hedge fund manager (is that redundant?). Both of them have plans to reshape Nostalgia City. I’m almost finished writing.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
If you’d like to relive the ups and downs of the 1970s, visit Nostalgia City in Desert Kill Switch.
Desert Kill Switch
A life-and-death chase across the Nevada desert in the middle of August highlights the action in Desert Kill Switch a complex mystery spread across the southwest.
On an empty desert road, stressed-out ex-cop Lyle Deming finds a bullet-riddled body next to a mint-condition 1970s Pontiac Firebird. When he returns to the scene with sheriff’s deputies: no car, no body. Does the answer lie in Nostalgia City where Lyle works? The Arizona retro theme park re-creates—in every detail—an entire small town from the early 1970s. It’s complete with period cars, clothes, music, hairstyles, food, shops, fads, restaurants—the works.
At the same time, Nostalgia City VP Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, is in Nevada on park business when she gets mixed up with a sleazy Las Vegas auto dealer who puts hidden “kill switches” and GPS trackers in cars he sells—mainly to low-income buyers. Miss a payment—sometimes by as little as a few days—and your car is dead. Maybe you are, too.
When Kate’s accused of murder in Reno, Lyle arrives to help his blonde, not-quite-girlfriend and they plow through a deadly tangle of suspects and motives. Kate and Lyle hit one dead end after another as they struggle to exonerate Kate, catch a blackmailer, save a witness’s life, and help find the missing corpse.