Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: mystery writers

Author Hagerty mixes historical fact with mystery fiction

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David Hagerty has penned four books in the Duncan Cochrane mystery series about an ambitious businessman who decides to run for Governor of Illinois. Six weeks before election day, his daughter is murdered in his mansion along the Chicago lakefront. All four books detail the fallout from that case on his family and his state. 

Hagerty presently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Here he talks about his approach to the mystery genre, his real-life settings and his inspirations.

 

What inspired your series?

All of my books started with real events. The first, They Tell Me You Are Wicked, was inspired by the murder of U.S. Sen. Charles Percy’s daughter six weeks before his first election in 1966. It is the most famous crime in the history of my hometown, Kenilworth, Illinois, and one that allowed me to blend my pet themes of crime and politics.

The other books riffed off Mayor Jane Byrne’s decision to move into the city’s most infamous housing project after a series of sniper killings there, the Tylenol poisonings, and the Innocence Project. For me, these events hold as much prominence in Chicago lore as the bootlegging of Al Capone or the death of John Dillinger. 

 

Why set your mystery series in the 70s/80s?

In Chicago, it constituted the end of an era in politics. Richard J. Daley, who’d held the mayor’s office and the city for nearly two decades, had just passed away. His democratic Machine was fragmented by conflicting interests and a vacuum of leadership. It seemed the perfect time to introduce an ambitious, naive aspirant to the Second City’s throne.

 

Since your books take place decades ago, you can’t use some of the modern crime fighting technology.

I’d rather not depend on science in a story. Cell phones, CSI tricks, and modern science dilute the story and rob the characters of agency. I prefer the style of Foyle’s War, where the detective has to figure things out from clues. Thus, setting a mystery in an era before DNA appealed to me.

 

Why do you use pop culture in your books?

When I started this series, I struggled with how best to capture the time. Unlike TV or movies, where visual cues often identify the period, I didn’t want to spend too much ink on describing the blender or the telephone a character is using. Instead, I pulled in references to cue the reader, such as the movies or songs that are playing.

David Hagerty

I also used period slang for several of the characters, both because I think it spices up the dialogue and because it’s true to the time. Not every character, of course. I don’t want the attorney general saying “groovy.” Just enough so everyone has his or her own sound.

 

You also have a penchant for real places.

Chicago has so much history and so many iconic places, I decided it was better to include those than to fabricate a locale. So I used the Palmer House and Drake hotels, two of the city’s most prestigious. My characters eat at Manny’s Deli and the Billy Goat Tavern, two local dives popular with politicians and journalists. They live in the Marina Towers and work in the John Hancock Center. I want readers to learn about the city’s past and its famous (and obscure) habitats.  Continue Reading →

My personal plates….and today only, a free book

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Turn on your Kindle or Kindle Fire and go to Amazon to download a free copy of Death in Nostalgia City.  This is a one-day sale that ends tonight—Aug. 30—at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time.

Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Nostalgia-City-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07V1Y23FM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1412464218&sr=1-1

Personalized plates

I’ve always been interested in personalized license plates.  My previous car was a Mini Cooper and my plate said TEA REX.  I was proud of that one.  The tea represented, in part, the car’s manufacture in England.  The T-rex angle was intended to be a reverse take on the size of the car.  A Mini with the name of a dinosaur, get it?  And since I drink tea rather than coffee you could call me the tea king.  There you have it.

Years ago when we moved from Southern California to Nevada, my new (Nevada) plate read: ADIOS CA.   At the time, we’d become weary of the congestion and traffic of the greater LA area.  A number of drivers in Las Vegas, obviously California expats, gave me the high sign or honked when they saw the plate.

Several years later when we returned to Southern California, however, a clerk at the DMV took a look at my Nevada plate and said, “Welcome back.”

We’ve lived in Reno for many years now.  (It was home to my Mini.)  But when I retired the English car, I leased a new VW.  I was tempted to get a plate that hinted at the car company’s emissions scandal: NO SMOG, BREATH, CLN AIR, EXHAUST.  I opted for something more personal.

It stands for private investigator.

My old copywriter friend Jane Gorby had a cool license place in So. Cal for years: EZ WRTR.  I loved that and was tempted to copy it here in Nevada.  But that was her idea, not mine.  Also, I happened to see the movie again and it didn’t match its reputation.  But Jane’s plate gave me an idea.  You can see the results.  Most everyone gets it, although someone asked me if it had to do with pie.

How many Mark Bacons can there be?

Email addresses is another challenging topic, specifically finding one that is not being used.

I’m trying to transition from my ISP’s email to gmail.  The latter I’ve found to be more reliable.  The problem is, gmail covers almost a billion users and, apparently, a number of them are named Mark Bacon. 

The gmail addresses Mark.Bacon, MarkBacon (no dot), MBacon, Mark.S.Bacon, MarkBacon2, Bacon.Mark, BaconMark, BaconM, are all taken.  The gmail program has suggested several variations that are not taken, but they are all followed by three numerals.  That doesn’t look professional to me.  I could use my web address for email, but Mark@baconsmysteries.com is too big a mouthful.  

Suggestions are welcome.

Publishing news, free books, reviews and surprises to come on this blog

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Welcome mystery fans.  It seems I took an extended hiatus from writing in this space.  I can explain.

Launching a new book takes time.  So does switching publishers. I was in the middle of the former but am now neck-deep in the latter, or maybe both.

All three Nostalgia City mysteries are available again on Amazon, both e-book and print.  They will soon be available elsewhere, although for the time being the e-book versions of two of the mysteries, numbers 1 and 3, are exclusively with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.

Each of the three Nostalgia City mysteries has a new international standard book number (ISBN) used to identify and locate books and identify the publisher.  As a result, some website links, if they’re older than two months, may not connect you to the books.  The easiest way to find them is to go to Amazon and type in the title.  Details and links are also always available on this website.

Articles (posts) in upcoming weeks will be book and movie reviews, observations about readers’ particular interest in authors, offbeat and background information on (my new book) The Marijuana Murders, hints about mystery #4 that I’m working on and a few surprises.

As you may have noticed, Death in Nostalgia City was recently–for two days– on sale for free.  Does that qualify as “on sale?”   I dunno, as one of my characters would say, but thousands of people snapped it up.  If you missed the sale, Death in Nostalgia City will be offered for free again on Amazon.  Stay tuned.

Free book:

Right now you can register to win a print copy of The Marijuana Murders. Kings River Life magazine is giving the book away. To be eligible, simply comment on the reviewer’s article about my book or simply send him an email.  Details here:  https://www.krlnews.com/2019/08/the-marijuana-murders-by-mark-s-bacon.html

Writing a novel is easy.  As you can see, I nailed it on the first draft.

I’ve been meaning to share this picture.  Many authors’ protracted blog explanations about the task of writing to the contrary, I don’t think many readers are interested in how we create a story.  Does it make a story more meaningful if you know, for example, it was written on a Mac, on a yellow pad or an old fashioned typewriter? 

So, I’ll make this brief.  Although I compose and edit on my computer, every so often I need to print out my latest chapters and go over them with a pencil. When a complete manuscript is finished, I redo things.  Several times.  Critique groups, beta readers and an editor all contribute to draft after draft.  Then it’s done.

Actually deciding it’s done is one of the most difficult tasks in writing a novel.  Thus my stack of drafts gets taller.  I usually save the drafts until the book is in print—sort of like a cloud backup, only this paper backup is recycled when the job is done.

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