Thursday, November 13, 2014

Guest Blogger Mark S. Bacon - Sharing How He Created Death in Nostalgia City - A Personal Favorite for Moi!

Theme park dreams 
lead to murder mystery

By Mark Bacon 

When I was growing up in Southern California, the dream summer job of every teen was to work at Disneyland. Whether you were sweeping up trash on Main Street—or had one of the cream assignments on a riverboat in...
Adventureland—the Magic Kingdom was where you wanted to be. As we lived too many miles from Anaheim to make a daily trip to the park feasible, I settled for wrestling boxes as a shipping clerk in West L.A.

Years later, my half-forgotten theme-park dreams were realized when I went to work for Knott’s Berry Farm, a Disneyland rival a few miles up the Santa Ana Freeway. Most of my time, however, was not spent near the rides or even on the park grounds. I was a copywriter; I wrote Knott’s ads and commercials. I had been a city-side newspaper reporter covering the police and other beats, and I traded journalism for advertising, where I thought I’d have more room for creativity.

Although I spent much of my time in a quiet cubicle thinking up catchy phrases for Knott’s radio spots, occasionally I worked on promotions in the park. I got to know costumed employees who entertained visitors and saw, from behind the scenes, what it took to keep a sprawling entertainment enterprise rolling smoothly. Sometimes it’s controlled chaos, in part because—hard to believe—not everyone who goes to an amusement park is on his or her best behavior. Maybe it’s the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” syndrome on a smaller scale.

No one knows for sure where writers get their inspiration, but I think it comes from a slow-simmering cranial soup, a mixture of all our experiences in which various ingredients bubble to the top. That’s my explanation, anyway, for how my jobs as a police reporter and Knott’s Berry Farm copywriter combined to create Death in Nostalgia City, a theme park murder mystery.

See My Review!

One of my favorites from the 60s...

Not an ordinary theme park, Nostalgia City is a recreation of an entire small town from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Covering several square miles, it’s complete with period cars, clothes, food, music, stores, fads, restaurants, hair styles—the works. It’s a peaceful place to relive the past, something that attracted Lyle Deming, an anxiety-ridden ex-cop who thought driving a cab in a giant theme park would be the perfect stress-free job. He loves his new occupation, exchanging jokes with tourists as he chauffeurs them around. But as this is a murder mystery, of course, bad things happen and successive chapters bring surprises.

One twist for Nostalgia City’s young employees that’s not a concern for Southern California kids working at Disneyland, is the time warp. In the retro park, everything is as it was more than 40 years ago. Before they walk out into the park, therefore, all employees have to surrender to their lockers their cell phones, iPads and all 21st century electronics.

“Macs are hamburgers,” Lyle tells an employee orientation class, “blackberries are fruit and a tablet is a pad of yellow paper with lines on it.”


One of My Favorites...

See what happens when I go Nostalgia? Wouldn't it be great to have a real Nostalgia

Hey Mark, What's your plans to beat this one? Sure hope we get to go back to be with Lyle Deming soon!

Thanks so much for giving us a little background on your book...and allowing me to enjoy the time period with you!

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