Park City’s Zack Matheson pens new crime mystery satire
A few experiences during past Sundance Film Festivals inspired Park City-based author Zack Matheson to pen his new murder mystery, "Porndance," a follow-up to his critically acclaimed crime caper, "Island of the Lost Souls."
"Years ago, when I was the owner of the Morning Ray Café on Main Street, I noticed that only the cool people got into the concerts during the Sundance Film Festival," Matheson said during an interview. "I had fed a couple of bands who were playing at [the now defunct] Harry O’s during that time and these guys would put me on the guest list. Then I’d go to the door and, even though I was on the guest list and could see my name on it, I was always turned away."
So, Matheson wanted to write a book that speculated about a place during Sundance where the average Joe could go see live bands and all the A-listers were turned away.
"Porndance" is about Daniel, who was the main character in "Island of the Lost Souls," and his new best friend Jimmy.
"Daniel has moved to Park City and is offered a job as executive chef at a restaurant that is yet to open," Matheson said. "Jimmy, a local celebrity and troublemaker, isn’t crazy to see that Sundance has become more a schmooze fest than a celebration of film, and that pushes him to create the Porndance Lounge, which spotlights cheesy adult movies, and the best music at the festival."
Of course, Jimmy can’t open the lounge because all the businesses in Park City have rented their places out to Sundance. However, thanks to a typo, Porndance becomes Prondance and people think this is a fun way to spell prawndance and think it’s a seafood festival.
"So, a place in Kamas opens its doors to Jimmy and his troublemaking and with all of this adult-movie money, he rents out the place and opens Porndance to the regular festival goer," Matheson said.
Shortly after the lounge opens, the local media begins receiving letters from someone called Movie Lover.
"Movie Lover is frustrated with the idea that independent films, in particular, documentaries, have become the death of the big-budget Hollywood films," Matheson said. "So, Movie Lover threatens to kill documentary filmmakers unless the documentaries are taken out of the Sundance screenings."
Of course, documentaries are a huge part of Sundance, so, apparently Movie Lover makes good on the threats and directors of really bad documentaries start turning up dead.
"They die in very creative ways that all, somehow and someway, have a Julia Roberts connection," Matheson said. "It’s very tongue-in-cheek and it’s not supposed to be serious. It’s just supposed to be entertaining."
Matheson said he was inspired by the crime and satirical fiction author Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey’s humorous crime novels, and novelist and screenwriter Tim Sandlin for "Porndance." He started writing it during the editing process of "Island of the Lost Souls."
"My family spent an extended stay in Hawaii and that gave me some free time to write the first half of the new book," Matheson said.
Daniel wasn’t originally going to be in the book, but the author decided to include him.
"He ended up in the book thanks to a circumstance similar to how I moved to Park City," Matheson said. "I was working in a restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, and this woman offered me a job as a general manager at a new restaurant here on Main Street."
Matheson jumped at the chance and the offer turned out to be bogus.
"That situation is described in the book and that’s how Daniel ends up in Park City," Matheson said.
Other true-to-life elements are in the book as well.
"I wanted to get the detail and atmosphere of Sundance as on-the-money as possible, all the way down to the point of volunteer clothing descriptions," Matheson said. "While there are a few things that I have made up, I describe in great detail all the existing places and venues, so someone who has never been to Sundance will get the nuances and feeling of being here."
Matheson said the goal of "Porndance" is to be a good-natured ribbing of the film festival.
"I poke fun of Sundance, but as you read the book, you will see that I really like it," he said. "So, the book is supposed to be me having fun with Sundance without being mean."
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