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Interview with Kate Sorensen, public relations specialist in Mark S. Bacon’s new mystery, ‘Desert Kill Switch’ 

We’re thrilled to have here today Kate Sorensen from Mark S. Bacon’s new mystery, Desert Kill Switch. 

Kate Sorensen is a fortysomething public relations VP living in Nostalgia City,  Ariz.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Front cover - Full Cover DKS v3 (1)Thank you so much for this interview, Kate.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Let’s start with movie star qualities.  That’s what Mr. Bacon said I had.  I am a tall blonde in reasonably good shape.  I jog.  I work out.  You know, I really don’t want to talk any more about this right now.  Maybe later.

Now, about my job. In the Nostalgia City mystery series I’m the head of PR for a giant new theme park that’s a re-creation of an entire small town as it would have appeared in the mid-1970s.  Unique. Expensive.

But we’ve had a few glitches since the park opened.  Maybe more than just a few.  So, I have to fend off an army of news reporters who want to know who was killed, who was injured in the park. I’ve been in public relations for more than a dozen years now and I know how to do it.  It’s not all spin.  It’s being honest and treating reporters with respect.  In that regard, Mr. Bacon has accurately portrayed my work.  Now the investigative stuff on the side, that’s a different story.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Okay.  First of all, I’m six feet two and a half inches tall.  Yes, I played basketball in college.  I averaged 19.5 points per game as a senior at USC.  I think Mr. Bacon might have put just a little too much emphasis on my height.  At times I’m a little self-conscious about it, but playing basketball influenced me in important ways.

My height was a concern when I was growing up. I think Mr. Bacon covered that aspect nicely.  My personality formed when I began to recognize who I was and become proud of it.  And actually, my height is a pivotal issue in this book when I try to do some undercover investigating.  (But I can’t say more or it would spoil the plot.)   Maybe the fact I’m over six feet wasn’t overemphasized after all.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

When I played division one college basketball, the pressure was on—all the time.  Of necessity I developed a way of looking at anxious situations.   In addition to nerve-wracking, my games were also exciting.  So I focused on the excitement.  “You’re not anxious, Kate,” I would tell myself, “you’re just excited.  You’re ready to go.  You can handle it.”  Fortunately I’ve been able to transfer that way of dealing with stress to my professional life.

Worse trait? 

Handling jokes about my height.  “How’s the weather up there?”  “Wow, have you always been this tall?”  “How’s the view?”  I’ve heard these and many others.  But I’m trying to learn to just smile and move the conversation forward.

Dealing with relationships is sometimes a challenge.  If a man is intimidated by my height, things won’t be going well.  I don’t always make allowances for someone else’s insecurities.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I’d pick Adrianne Palicki, who plays Tyra Collette in the TV show “Friday Night Lights” and is a veteran of several other series.  She’s about six feet tall and very athletic—as she showed in the Wonder Woman TV movie. As an added coincidence, she played basketball in high school.  And above all, she’s a versatile actress I’d be proud to see playing me, Kate Sorensen.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Bruce is my boyfriend.  He used to play Arena football.  We’ve been living together for more than two years.  When I got the job offer to move from Las Vegas to Nostalgia City in Arizona, Bruce was a little reluctant to go.  I couldn’t quite figure it out.  But in this book, Bruce and I—sorry, I can’t explain any more.  “Love interest” as you call it is a complication for me in Desert Kill Switch.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

About the time the Chechen mobsters threatened to sexually assault me and a young woman I was protecting.  Then they were going to kill us and leave our bodies in the desert.  I would have to turn this disgusting, scary situation into just “excitement.”

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Maybe this answer is too easy, but it seems like the most obvious one.  I would not want to be the young man who is found dead, alone, on a deserted desert road near Nostalgia City in the first chapter.

Of course there are some sleazy characters in the book too, who I would not want to be, but dead?  No.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I work hard to try to solve the mysteries in this book while dodging several people who have it in for me. My co-star is Lyle Deming, an ex-cop who also works at the Nostalgia City theme park.  In the end of this book, I’m in serious trouble.  I need help.  Does Lyle show up in time.  Not really.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

Mr. Bacon has already finished another Nostalgia City mystery.  As he makes revisions, I’d suggest, he consider making me just a little less accepting of pot smoking.   Sure I smoked it in college—didn’t everyone?  But now we’re adults.

Thank you for this interview, Kate.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Absolutely.  The third mystery, where I again share the challenges with Lyle should be out in a little more than a year, depending on how swift Mr. Bacon’s publisher is.


Author Mark S. Bacon 5052 - smlrMark 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 when he became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park down the freeway from Disneyland, and later for a Los Angeles advertising agency.

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 Library Journal, and selected by the Book of the Month Club and two other book clubs.  His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, Denver Post, and many other publications.  Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Desert Kill Switch is the second book in the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with Death in Nostalgia City, an award winner at the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival.

Bacon is the author of flash fiction mystery books including, Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words.  He  taught journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal Poly University – Pomona, University of Redlands, and the University of Nevada – Reno.  He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State.

First Chapter Reveal: Mirror World by John Calicchia

Mirror WorldTitle: Mirror World
Author: John Calicchia
Publisher: Psychangel Books
Pages: 404
Genre: YA Fantasy

What would you do if you saw the future apocalypse of the world in a mirror? Would you try to save the world and those you love, or die trying?

Welcome to my life, this is the vision of the future I’ve been cursed to see. – Cailyssa Larkin

When Cailyssa Larkin looks in a mirror she has an ominous feeling that someone is watching her. Stranger still, she has visions that foretell the future. While visiting her Uncle Spencer, Cailyssa gazes into a mirror and sees a dark future that only she can change. With the future of her own world hanging in the balance, Cailyssa bravely enters the portal to the Mirror World. Here, the Dark Lord controls all the mirrors and bends reflections so all creatures see evil within themselves. With her sister Terry, her mysterious best friend Daemon, and a host of weird and wonderful creatures, Cailyssa embarks on an epic quest to overcome the evil forces trying to destroy her world. She can only defeat the Dark Lord by finding her true self and discovering the family secret that has led her to Mirror World.

This book, written by a psychology professor, integrates famous psychological studies in the story. Readers will enjoy learning important life lessons through the psychological concepts illustrated in the book.

For More Information

  • Mirror World is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


Chapter 1: Trouble in the Morning

OK, calm down. You can’t smash it into a million pieces without cutting yourself, and then you’ll really be in trouble.

“I hate you, I hate you, and I hate you!” I hissed at my reflection in the mirror. “Why do you always have to give me a hard time?”

I stood in front of my bedroom mirror, unable to move, transfixed by the image that stared back at me. It really freaked me out. It looked like me—but it wasn’t me. There was just something wrong with it. Was I going crazy? I found it difficult to move. A tap on my shoulder made me jump, and I shivered as I looked away from the mirror.

“Caught ya lookin’ in the mirror!” My little sister said as she danced happily behind me smiling broadly. “Hey, Lyss, no uniforms today at school, remember? Can I borrow your green headband? It will make a perfect match to my awesome shirt.” Terry paused and tilted her head to the side. “Lyssa, you all right? You look like crap.”

“Terry, thanks a lot, not everybody can look like you in the morning.”

Terry was a freak of nature and an amazing athlete. She had piercing blue eyes, the most gorgeous, silky red hair, and perfect skin that never needed a drop of makeup. Every morning she ran a brush through her hair, quickly washed her face, and she was ready to go.

“Lyssa, you know I think you’re gorgeous. The only reason I said you look like crap is because of your eyes. Were you crying?” Terry said softly as she warmly placed both her hands on my shoulders. “C’mon, you can tell me. I heard you yelling at the mirror when I walked in. When you do that I always know it’s ’cause you’re scared or worried. What’s going on?”

“I don’t know,” I said, glumly shaking my head back and forth. “Remember I told you the strange feelings I get sometimes when I look in the mirror: like it’s not me or that maybe someone is—I know this sounds crazy—looking at me?”

“Yeah, Lyssa, I remember. Just the other day I had the feeling that somebody was staring at me, and sure enough, when I turned around, it was creepy Randle from the back of math class. Isn’t it weird how you so know somebody is staring at you? But really, Lyssa, the mirror?”

“Yes, Terry. But here’s the thing—and promise not to tell anybody; you’re the only person I’ve ever told about this. It’s getting worse. A lot worse! Before you came in the room, I couldn’t move away from looking at the mirror. Am I going crazy?” I covered my face with my hands, determined not to let Terry see me on the verge of tears.

“Listen, big sister, you are definitely not going crazy! You must just be stressed out. You need to take some time for yourself. All you ever do is look out for your friends and try to help everybody. You have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met, and I think at times you need to be a bit more selfish. Take care of yourself too!” Terry said as I stood up and gave her a hug.

The problem with hugging my little sister was that she started out soft, and then she always tried to squeeze the stuffing out of you, to make it funny at the end. She let go of me before I exploded and spun around so fast that her ponytail lightly brushed across my chin. It made me laugh. Before she left my room, she paused at the door, spun around, and smiled. Her fingers pointed toward me, thumbs up, in what she called her six-gun position.

“Hey, Cailyssa, I forgot to show you the cool slogans I added to the front of my volleyball shirt!” Terry slid across the room and quickly opened her jacket to display her shirt. “Block This” was written in all caps across the front of her shirt with a fat marker, and “You Wish You Could Hit Like a Girl” was on the back. I laughed harder this time.

“Hey, Lyssa, we need to talk more about this mirror thing. You and I! After school! Froyo at our favorite place…yogurt beach!” Terry said as she ran down the stairs to catch breakfast before school.

Terry was just what I needed this morning. She came into my room, listened to me complain, and wrapped an enormous bubble of happiness around me—just like she does to everyone. I wish some days I could be more like that. Why do I often feel like I have the weight of the world on top of me?

“Honey, stop talking to yourself. You’re going to be late for school. Come down and eat breakfast. I made pancakes and don’t have time to drive you if you miss the bus.” That was my father talking. The sound of his voice and the thought of a hot breakfast relaxed me, but I still wanted to take my hairbrush and give the mirror in front of me one good smack! Caught up in a whirlpool of thoughts, I headed downstairs for breakfast.

“Good morning, honey,” my mother said. “You look great today! Is that a new outfit?”


“Lyssa, I said you look great today. Didn’t you hear me?”

I was about to make a sarcastic reply, but I bit my tongue just in time. It wasn’t my mom’s fault that I was in a conflicted mood today. She was just trying to be positive and lift my spirits when it must have been obvious to everyone that I wasn’t too cheerful.

“Uh, yeah, mom. It’s a new outfit.” There was no use commenting on the part about looking great; we both knew that wasn’t true today! “Mom, I just want to eat breakfast and go to school, please.”

I was still worried about the mirror thing, and I really didn’t want to talk or listen to my parents this morning.

My father looked at me with a raised eyebrow, recognized it was best not to disturb the peace, and quietly said, “Your mom’s right; you look great today.”

“Thanks, but I really don’t want to talk this morning,” I grumbled. I gave them both a hug and then decided to bury my face in pancakes and bacon. Isn’t it amazing what food can do? I ate, felt a little better, did a quick mental checklist that everything I needed was in my backpack, and headed for the front door.

Then I saw it in front of me. It was like a vision from heaven. It was golden, it was sweet, and it had the most incredible smell. I couldn’t resist. I ran toward it, wrapping my arms around it, and buried my nose in the softest, most perfect spot imaginable.

“You are the best dog in the whole world, Cali,” I said, nuzzling the fur of my golden-retriever puppy.

She looked at me with adorable chocolate-brown eyes that shone like pools of endless love. Her happiness to see me spread into my body, and all of a sudden, I felt how much I loved this furry critter. The only thing better than getting love and attention from one dog is getting it from two dogs.

“I love you, too, Bentley,” I said as my Bernese mountain dog plowed into me, knocking me over in his excitement to see me. Dogs are proof that God loves us, I said to myself.

Both dogs attacked me with a love fest of licking, sniffing, and snuggling. It was simply the best feeling in the whole world. With dog-infused love, I quickly hugged my mom and dad good-bye and went out to wait for the bus with my kid sister, Terry. Usually I drove to school, but my car was in for repairs, so that meant we had to catch the bus. “Please,” I thought to myself, “please don’t let Billy be on the bus.”

The feelings of elation I had felt a few moments ago with Cali and Bentley evaporated immediately as the bus pulled to a stop.

A sick feeling crept into my stomach as I saw the side of Billy’s face in the window. Reluctantly, and with an odd feeling of premonition, I walked onto the bus and made my way to an empty seat. No sooner had I sat down than I heard the most disgusting sound in the universe.

“Here’s Kissa Larkin, stuck on the bus. Where is your boyfriend, Daemon?” Billy Bloomfield yelled as he stood up.

“Billy, just leave me alone today. I don’t feel like dealing with you! BTW my name’s Cailyssa, pronounced K-lyssa, not Kissa.” I said it as politely as I could, but underneath I was seething, and I deliberately avoided any eye contact.

“What’s the matter, Kissa, you too good to talk to the rest of us, or do you miss your boyfriend?” Billy taunted as he made a kissing face to the rest of the bus and finished with an obnoxious burp that seemed to last for minutes and vibrate every window on the bus.

Billy was one of the worst bullies in the entire school, and most people were afraid of him. Not me. First of all, we used to be friends before he became a bully. And I especially dislike boys who like to bully people in front of a crowd to make themselves feel good. Oh yeah, I hate when he calls me stupid names like Kissa. As Billy was still laughing about his own stupid joke, I saw him actually pick his nose and wipe it on the seat in front of me. He continued to laugh, and his chins were shaking up and down as the spittle flew out of his mouth.

I looked across the aisle and saw my little sister’s hands ball up into fists. That could mean only one thing.

“Billy, why don’t you shut up and eat some of the jelly doughnut that you dropped on the front of your shirt,” my little sister howled.

Now let me tell you, my sister has a pair of lungs and can out scream a crowd at a Patriots game. So the entire bus turned around and looked at Billy’s shirt. Sure enough, right in the middle was a huge splat of jelly and a trail of crumbs from the doughnut that had fallen from his mouth.

“Shut up, you little pimple, before I squash you,” Billy yelled back.

Of course he didn’t do anything. Although my sister was a couple of years younger, she had that if-looks-could-kill face on, and Billy sure didn’t want to risk getting his butt kicked by a girl. My sister, Terry, was pretty much not scared of anything, especially Billy Bloomfield. Terry’s nickname was Tink because her favorite hat had a picture of Tinker Bell on it. The hat said “Don’t even Tink about it!” Not many kids could get away with wearing that hat at her age, but the hat was a perfect description of my sister’s personality. You don’t mess with Terry or Tink! Nobody ever gave her a hard time about the hat—or about anything else for that matter. Everyone loved my sister. She was totally out there—smart, athletic, bold, loyal—and had so many friends. She’s so different from me, I thought as I looked at her.

When Billy turned to yell at my sister, the squashed blob of doughnut on his shirt became visible for the whole bus to see. Half the bus started yelling and pointing to the doughnut on Billy’s semiwhite T-shirt. When Billy realized he had become the brunt of everybody’s humor, his face turned bright red, and his whole huge body trembled with embarrassment and anger.

“Thanks for doing that, Tink, but I don’t need your help,” I said to Terry.

“I couldn’t help it! When I saw him making fun of you, I wanted to punch him so bad.” My sister tried her best to whisper this; of course Terry’s voice is completely incapable of whispering, and everyone around us heard and began to giggle. Billy was too busy trying to clean the doughnut off his shirt to hear what we were saying.

I whispered, “Let’s just leave Billy alone. If he gets too upset, he might just explode here on the bus and splatter us with the food and the disgusting things that are in his stomach.”

We both laughed, and I looked down at my little sister, thinking how much I loved that she stood up for me. The bus finally arrived at school, and I made sure to get out of my seat quickly before Billy could block the aisle. Believe me, you don’t stand close behind Billy Bloomfield’s butt—unless you are able to hold your breath for a very long time.

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