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National City is setting of ghost tale Robert Moreno | Sat, Aug 03 2013 12:00 PM

Mary Castillo's grandmother once told her that the best job anyone can have is being an author. The reasons the grandmother gave were because an author doesn’t have to go into an office to work and an author gets paid to make stuff up. 

Castillo, 39, a former Los Angeles Times Community Newspaper reporter, took her grandmother’s words to heart and made the switch from reporting  to writing fiction.

To date, the Orange County resident has six books and one novella to her name.

Her most recent book, “Lost in the Light,” a paranormal mystery, takes place in the author’s beloved hometown of National City.

Castillo’s family first settled on the west side of National City in the 1920s, her great-grandfather worked for the now historical National City railroad.

Being born and raised in the county’s second oldest city, the Chula Vista High School alumna has childhood memories of being a bookworm and a history buff.

“When I was a kid, I was one of those nerdy kids who used to hang out at the old National City public library,” Castillo said. “I loved the old history room. I used to go in there all the time.”

She revisited the library over the years to refresh herself on the history of National City for “Lost in the Light.”

The story is about a San Diego police detective named Dori Orihuela who, after being injured and shot on the job, moves into an old mansion in National City and finds that she has a ghost named Vicente Sorolla who wants to find out what happened to the woman he died to protect.

The paranormal mystery, nominated for a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Paranormal Mystery, sheds some light on what the prohibition era was like in San Diego.

“Whenever we think of prohibition we think of the early ’20s, we think of Al Capone, New York and Chicago,” she said.

“But we don’t realize that particularly on the West Coast in San Diego, National City, with our proximity to the border, that there was huge crime going on at that time and actually much of what we see now in terms of some of the problems that we have at the border, that really escalated in the 1920s.”

Castillo said when she was in the process of writing the story, she couldn’t think of a better place for the story’s setting.

“When this story evolved it just felt natural to set it in my hometown,” she said.

Castillo said with “Lost in the Light” she is trying to preserve some of National City’s history, which she said is slowly being erased with the new development there.

“Lost in the Light” can be purchased on Amazon.com or at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.

Castillo is currently writing the sequel “Lost in Whispers.”

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