Mark S. Bacon began his career as a Southern California newspaper police reporter, one of his crime stories becoming key evidence in a murder case that spanned decades.
After working for two newspapers, he moved to advertising and marketing and became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park down the freeway from Disneyland. Experience working at Knott’s formed part of the inspiration for his creation of Nostalgia City theme park.
Before turning to fiction, Bacon wrote business books including “Do-It-Yourself Direct Marketing,” printed in four languages and three editions, named best business book of the year by the Library Journal, and selected by the Book of the Month Club and two other book clubs. His freelance feature articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, Orange County (Calif.) Register, Denver Post and many other publications. Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Dark Ride Deception” is the fourth book in the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with”Death in Nostalgia City”. The first book introduced ex-cop turned cab driver Lyle Deming and PR executive Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star. “Death in Nostalgia City” was recommended for book clubs by the American Library Association.
Bacon is the author of flash fiction mystery books including, “Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words – Revised Edition”.
He taught journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal Poly University – Pomona, the University of Nevada – Reno, and the University of Redlands. He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State.
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Where do you get your ideas?
by Mark S. Bacon
Do ideas for mystery novels float down from the ether? Do writers lean back in their chairs, arms resting on their heads, waiting for inspiration to strike? Sometimes. More often though, writers rely on their own experiences, their own history as the foundation for stories.
If you look at the background of many mystery/crime writers, sources of their inspiration become clear.
For example, as a young lawyer John Grisham toiled for many hours at a small, struggling Mississippi law firm. And the main character in his early books is typically a young lawyer toiling for many hours at a small, struggling Mississippi law firm.
Tony Hillerman,wrote about the southwest. In his most famous books, Navajo tribal police solve the mysteries. Before writing novels, he was a newspaper reporter in Texas. He patterned one of his main police characters after a local Texas sheriff he knew. Later he lived and taught in New Mexico for more than 20 years becoming familiar with the land and the people.
One of British writer Gerald Kersh’s most well known books isNight and the City. Al Pacino starred in the movie version. It focuses on the seamy side of the wrestling game in London. And while Kersh was learning to write he held a variety of odd jobs. For a time, he was a wrestler.
Dashiell Hammett, before he became a novelist and wrote The Maltese Falcon, worked for the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency. He used that experience as the basis for the Falcon and also for a long series of short stories and two novels that featured a private eye working for a big detective agency.
The setting for my mysteries is a theme park, Nostalgia City. Early in my career I wrote advertising at Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park just up the freeway from Disneyland.
Although I spent most of my time writing ads and commercials, I occasionally worked on special events in the park. I got to know some of the costumed employees who entertained visitors and had a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to keep a sprawling entertainment enterprise rolling smoothly. At times it seemed like controlled chaos.
Since my experience at Knott’s I’ve always thought a theme park would make a great setting for a murder mystery. A park can be crammed with tourists to the point of inducing claustrophobia. Or it can be dark and empty at night when the gates are closed, the rides sit motionless and the only sound is the wind whistling through the rollercoaster framework. Theme parks present many possibilities for intrigue.
In my new book, Dark Ride Deception, high-tech secrets for mind-bending new rides are stolen from Nostalgia City. My protagonists, Lyle Deming, an ex-cop now theme park cab driver, and Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, are sent on an undercover mission to search offices and workshops at other theme parks. They’re looking for the Perception Deception Effect, a remarkable artificial intelligence-controlled program that will alter theme park rides forever.
Lyle and Kate’s exploration of other theme parks is not unlike my first weeks working at Knott’s, as I tried to find my way around the grounds and learn the secrets of opening doors closed to the public.
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