“It’s a San Diego–based humor novel, but it’s also a huge tribute to music, specifically the 1980s,” says Encinitas author Tim Holsten, whose book Accidental Bachelor includes area locales and personalities such as the Kraken in Cardiff, ’80s one-hit wonders the Monroes (“What Do All the People Know”), and famous former El Cajon neighbor Lester Bangs.
“The basic premise is a single guy in his 30s, trying to find purpose in his life. I use North County San Diego as a character itself: watching cover bands at the Kraken, the geography, the surf breaks, and trends like too many Tommy Bahama shirts.”
Thanks to having a “brain cluttered with pop-culture trivia,” Holsten (an avid runner and Special Olympics coach) peppers the story with local events, such as the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon and opening day at Del Mar, along with references geared to appeal to the classic-rock crowd. “My familiarity with ’80s bands like the Monroes stems from a ridiculous amount of pop culture I absorbed. Completely useless information, aside from destroying other couples in the entertainment category of Trivial Pursuit, until I decided to write the book. That provided the perfect vessel to use all this stored information in an entertaining way.”
One character speaks primarily in quotes from the locally shot ode to crew-cut testosterone, Top Gun. “The characters’ formative years were the ’80s, so the decade is extensively referenced in the story,” he says. “This is done mostly through song lyrics. And often additional little-known factoids are mentioned, like how the song ‘Mr. Roboto’ caused the breakup of Styx.”
Segments taking place at the Kraken resulted from somewhat surreptitious first-hand research, as Holsten has never met the bar’s operators. “The Kraken is near where the main character, Finn, lives and works. I wanted to work it and other Cardiff landmarks — like the Pannikin, Pipes Café, and Yogi’s [Beach Bar] — into the story. A couple of scenes take place there, one with a ZZ Top cover band and the other a funeral....
“When I was doing my book research, I walked in there one packed Saturday afternoon with a pad of paper and a pencil. The bartender saw my pad of paper, gave me the stink eye, and asked me, because I’m more clean-cut than their average patron, to ‘Check the Kraken off your list.’”