Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: book publishers

Why is there a Ferris wheel on my book cover?

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By Michael Niemann

It’s admittedly an odd choice for a thriller, but let me explain.

The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel, was designed and built in 1897 by British engineers to commemorate the golden anniversary of emperor Franz Josef. And it is indeed of giant proportions, 212 feet tall. However, it wasn’t the tallest in the world. The original Ferris wheel, designed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.  in 1893 for the Chicago World Columbian Exhibition, was 264 feet tall. Other illicit_trade-niemann-covergiant wheels built in London and Paris around the same time were also taller. But after a couple of decades, those other Ferris wheels had all been taken down.

By 1920, the Wiener Riesenrad was the tallest wheel in the world. It held that position until 1985 when the 289 foot Technostar wheel was opened in Japan. Currently, the tallest wheel is the High Roller in Las Vegas which stands 550 tall more than twice the height of the Riesenrad.

No Ferris wheel has played a bigger a role in popular culture than the Wiener Riesenrad. It featured in three spy thriller films, The Third Man, Scorpio, The Living Daylights, and one romance, Before Sunrise. It also made an appearance in several novels.

The wheel’s feature role in spy thrillers is not an accident. The Third Man takes place just a few years after World War II when Austria and Vienna were still divided into four sectors, occupied by Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the U.S. Obviously there was plenty of spying going on then.

The agreement that ended the occupation stipulated that Austria had to remain neutral henceforth. No wonder that during the Cold War, Vienna became a hub of clandestine meetings, shady dealings and generally a playground for spies from all over the world. That has not changed.

Inside the The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel.

Inside the The Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese giant wheel.

Austria’s neutrality also made Vienna a perfect location to host one of the United Nations headquarters. And that brings me back to my book. My protagonist, Valentin Vermeulen, works for the UN and a case of fraud brings him to Vienna. Once I had him there, I remembered The Third Man and watched the movie again. The scene featuring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton is one of the most gripping scenes in the movie. Continue Reading →

Progress Report: Nostalgia City Mystery Series

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Movies and television shows have soundtracks, why not novels?  Occasionally I like soft music playing in the background while I read.  Often, I listen to baroque when I’m writing.  It’s supposed to reduce tension and enhance concentration.  Your heartbeat slows down, you relax and the right and left sides of your brain synchronize.  This must be true, I read it on the Internet.  Actually, if you do a web search, you’ll find a Stanford University study that says essentially the same thing.

jefferson-airplane-white-rabbitRock music and specific songs play an important part in Death in Nostalgia City.  Music is also featured in upcoming books in the series.  More about them in a moment.  I used names of songs in the novel to help set a mood and maintain the book’s retro theme. 

I’m not suggesting you listen to a rock soundtrack while reading Death in Nostalgia City.  Listening to Elvis, for example, doesn’t enhance any cognitive functions I know of.  I have, however, put together a song list that could be background music for the book—were it to be translated into film.  Some of these are mentioned in the book, others just fit the mood. Just as a movie soundtrack CD can bring back the story and characters to your mind, so my song list can remind you of key parts of the book.

Here are the songs I’d put in the CD for Death in Nostalgia City:

Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf
The Night Chicago Died – Paper Lace
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
Knights in White Satin – Moody Blues
Harper Valley PTA – Jeannie C. Riley
Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
American Pie – Don McLean
The Weight – A Group Called Smith
Crocodile Rock – Elton John
You’re No Good – Linda Ronstadt
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
Riders on the Storm – The Doors
We Gotta Get Out of This Place –  The Animals

New book announcement

Desert Kill Switch will be the next book in the Nostalgia City series and it’s due out later this year from Black Opal Books.  Lyle and Kate are back in a mystery that takes them to Nevada, while Lyle tries to escape memories of a murder and Kate tries to avoid blame for another one.  Lots of creepy, menacing suspects.  No help from the police.

Imagine yourself in the middle of the Nevada desert in August. What classic rock songs come to mind? The soundtrack for this book would vary from light refrains to dark lyrics. Continue Reading →

Memo to Jeff Bezos

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Dear Jeff,

Congratulations on the launch of Handmade at Amazon. This fills a small gap in Amazon’s broad offerings. In fact, Amazon is now positioned to provide nearly everything consumers need from household goods to nearly all forms of entertainment. Your acquisition last year of the comedy firm, Rooftop Media, even supplies your companies with laughs—let’s face it, something you could use after that nasty New York Times article. (I’m thinking the story was prompted by support from the big five.)

Looking at the vast Amazon countryside, I see but one area missing: coverage of murder mystery fiction. Americans devour mystery books. The top selling titles of all time are mysteries. And although Amazon does sell millions of mystery books—including mine for which I’m grateful—it appears you don’t have a separate website dedicated to the genre.

May I suggest Baconsmysteries.com. I’ve been writing about mysteries here for several years. I do reviews, include mystery flash fiction stories and occasionally discuss industry trends. Okay, so I do self-promotion, too. Every book writer does that. We have to. But that’s not a deal-breaker for me.

Acquisition would be simple as I’m the only employee. Certainly I would be glad to stay on for a short time to organize things. You can contact me at the email address listed on the “about” tab on my website.   I’m sure we can agree on a reasonable price.

Sincerely,

Mark S. Bacon

 

P.S. This really has nothing to do with the above, but I applaud your acquisition of the venerable Washington Post. Newspapers are far from money makers today, but keeping the fourth estate alive, if only for its government and business watchdog functions, is a noble project. And I see you’re working on its bottom line. I read the Post online regularly, but I’m now going to have to subscribe for the privilege. Good idea.

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