And 1993 is the setting of my Sandy Fairfax, Teen Idol cozy series. But why 1993? Why not present day?
Sandy starred in a TV series, “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth,” that ran from 1975 to 1979. He was nineteen years old when the series premiered and twenty-three when it ended (his character continued on in a cartoon series that ran from 1979 to 1980). His career tanked at that point.
In my series, Sandy is older and making a comeback. Teen idols from the 1960s/70s followed a predictable life path: huge success in early twenties, about ten fallow years and then an upswing in their thirties when nostalgia kicked in for the adults and younger generations discovered them.
Placing the books in 2014 would make Sandy fifty-nine years old. At fifty-nine Sandy would be too old to restart an entertainment career; in his thirties he would still be “cute” enough. At age fifty-nine he would have moved on to another profession.
I needed a character young enough to do physical stunts and be in good physical health. Many seniors are still spry at age fifty-nine but not as much as they were in younger years.
Sandy has children and I want to keep them young. I want him to fight with his ex and for Sandy to still be an influence on his kids. If Sandy were fifty-nine, his older child would be thirty-three!
So I made Sandy thirty-eight years old, a good age for a midlife crises, which placed him in 1993.
This year works for me for other reasons. Technology was not so overwhelming as today. I didn’t want characters with cell phones glued to their ears or their eyes staring at a tablet all day. My amateur sleuth finds out things through legwork and interviews, not by looking up info on the Internet. Frankly, I don’t understand much of modern technology—I barely figured out Facebook and emails—so with 1993 I can write about things I understand.
The 1970s was a good decade for teen idols. Every idol starred on a TV show as promotion; MTV music videos didn’t exist. Only three networks existed; the broadcast world was not as fragmented as today’s 200-plus channels. Radio stations were likewise limited in format, so Sandy’s music hit a bigger audience. Even people who didn’t watch his show knew who he was.
Teen idol music of that day was more naïve and wholesome. Idols didn’t twerk onstage or wear revealing outfits. Their stage shows were simple and focused on the performer, a stark contrast to modern pyrotechnic, heavily engineered music spectaculars.
Of course teen idols were often naughty boys offstage, but their handlers kept their escapades out of the news. If Sandy had thrown eggs at a neighbor’s house, his manager would have kept it hushed up (not that Sandy would do such a thing. He drank, but he was never vicious).
Writing about 1993 has some challenges. I have to rely on my memory and the Internet to get things right. I’m constantly researching to see if certain products had been invented and how Los Angeles, Sandy’s home, looked at that time. But overall it’s a fun time for me to write about and hopefully, for the readers to read about.
Caribbean cruises were as popular in 1993 as they are now. Sandy and his sister, who is blind, perform a series of concerts aboard the SS Zodiac bound for Nassau. But when a dead body turns up in Sandy’s backstage dressing room, it’s full steam ahead for the amateur sleuth as he meets a colorful cast of suspects, tries to avoid an old flame, and attempts to seduce his lovely choreographer. But will Sandy to live long enough to unmask the killer at the ship’s Halloween costume gala?