Tag Archives: movies

Interview with Jon McGowan: The Challenges of Media Tie-In Books and Stories

On The Thrill Begins:

Media Tie-In Books & Stories: Knowing is Half the Battle

 

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On The Thrill Begins: Know Your Region – Pittsburgh

Fellow Pittsburgh-area author Thomas Sweterlitsch joins me on the International Thriller Writers’ page, The Thrill Begins, to discuss why Pittsburgh is a hotspot for writers and artists.

skyline photo

Photo courtesy of Dave DiCello

Hot furnaces, molten steel, and suffocating smog. Pittsburgh is none of that these days. In fact, you may not realize it, but you’ve already visited the new Pittsburgh. You saw Batman tear through the streets in The Dark Knight Rises. You watched Tom Cruise star in Jack Reacher, kicking ass through multiple Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Russell Crowe attempted a jailbreak in The Next Three Days. And let’s not forget Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Actually, let’s really try to forget that last one. Please.

Pittsburgh has a booming film industry and is increasingly popular in the book world. With a growing list of talented authors, writers from the Steel City are found on countless bestseller and award lists. Two of us, Tom Sweterlitsch and myself, took a few moments to explore a special place where bridges are abundant and restaurants put fries on top of your salad.

Continue the article here:  http://thrillbegins.com/2016/09/22/meet-your-region-pittsburgh/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

 

Know Your Enemy

Oddly, authors are sometimes told that other writers are the enemy.  However, in my column for The Thrill Begins, I explain the enemy is L.L. Cool J and anyone who is part of the upcoming Road House remake.  As if this needs any explanation at all.

http://thrillbegins.com/2016/01/07/know-your-enemy/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Coming February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

Quoth the Raven… You’re Now On A Watch List!

I honestly don’t know how people wrote novels before having access to the miracles of technology we now have at our fingertips.  I cranked out about 3,000 words over the past two days (hopefully a few of the words are decent) and conducted research along the way.  If not for modern technology, this little section of a manuscript would have taken me days, if not weeks, to construct in any intelligible way.  Allow me to explain while paying tribute to a few wonderful tools of technology.

Spelling and Grammar Checks:  Oh, how I love thee.  Not only do you catch the fact I never type “definitely” right, but you signal me with a little green line if you think I may have meant “lying” and not “laying”.  Sure, you frustrate me when I get on a roll, fail to look at the screen when I type, and then I raise my eyes to see you have underlined most of an entire paragraph in blood.  But, I forgive you.  And you truly humble me when I put forth my very best effort to spell a difficult word and you give me the Microsoft version of the middle finger by telling me “No suggestions found“. That’s right, MS Word.  You have a gazillion words saved to memory and you’re telling me I’m not close to ANY of them.  Awesome.

But, if not for you many a proofreader would have seen my many spelling and grammatical flaws.  I still love thee.

This Internet Thing:  Occasionally, I’m writing a section of a novel and come to the realization I need to research something.  Edgar Allen Poe would have had to have gone to a library and spent hours finding the chapters in the right texts.  Mark Twain would have had to interview countless people, take copious notes, and then try to make sense of them later.  Now while I do both of these things, sometimes I just need to nail down a few facts to make sure I’m not making a colossal blunder.  Thank you, Internet.

DSCN0819

The Internet – Circa. 1974  Tin cans on a string.

Where else can you get two-minute YouTube videos of someone pushing buttons on a stereo system (yes, this was part of my research this week).  And while the Internet can be a huge distraction, it is incredibly convenient when a writer needs basic facts or a visual or audio aid.  However, it’s just as well this technology wasn’t around in the nineteenth century.  Can you imagine seeing Poe’s browser history?????  Quoth the Raven… Dude, you’re now on a watch list. 

The third one is…

 

Sorry, I checked Twitter and got sidetracked.  Damn Internet.

Movies and Television:  You might be thinking, Movies and television?  Are you insane?  My answers to those three questions are, Yes, you read that right and Possibly.  While these mediums have been around for quite some time, shows and films have never been – for better or worse – more detailed and descriptive.  While some may argue this leaves little to the imagination, I believe the vivid images people see may in some ways help readers envision what a novelist is attempting to describe.  That being said, novelists have to be cautious as to not get lazy and paint a superficial picture and expect the latest big prime time drama to fill in the unpainted sections.

A movie theater. You probably knew that.

A movie theater.
You probably knew that.

I’ve had many people tell me that my novels read like movies.  They mean it as a compliment, so I’m assuming they aren’t referencing the second Star Wars trilogy.  What I think the readers  are saying is that they had no trouble seeing the action play out and the story was paced appropriately.  Or they consider my characters’ dialogue to be similar to that of Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.  In which case, I need to dig up my old Rocky IV soundtrack, crank up some Survivor, and work on my dialogue writing skills.

What are some technological advances that have made your work easier?  It doesn’t have to be writing.  Anything at all!  Comment below.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Things in Old Movies You Don’t (or Shouldn’t) See Today

It’s Oscar time!  As a tribute to the Academy Awards, let’s explore some behaviors exhibited in movies from the past (and sometimes the present) that we seldom see today – or wish we didn’t.

1.  The “You’re being hysterical” slapping of a woman

This is so absurd I shouldn’t have to mention it. However, if you watch enough movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s you are bound to see the sanity-gathering strike across the cheek. Recently, I was playing with my daughter and I was acting like I was crying while she pretended to give me a shot with a syringe from her doctor’s kit. Imagine my surprise when my darling 3-year-old reared back and slapped the bejesus out of me. I don’t think she got this from a Humphrey Bogart movie, but probably Monsters Inc. Regardless, I can assure you the preschool beat-down did not bring serenity to my being.

The entire premise of slap calming a woman (or man) is utterly ridiculous (not to mention it’s assault!). If saying the phrase, “Just calm down” doesn’t work, you can rest assured physical battery isn’t going to do the trick.

2.  Whiskey as medicine

Got a cough? Take a drink. Down with the flu? Have a shot. Tummy ache? Sprained ankle? Poisoned? Nursing a gunshot wound? Tolerating a bout of bubonic plague? Drink up!

Now I’m not opposed to a hot toddy to battle the sniffles, but maybe hard liquor isn’t the ideal remedy for… well, everything. It would be nice if it were, but it’s not.

whiskey

3.  Dressing up to have dinner in your own house

Did people in the 40’s and 50’s really do this? Something tells me this is overdone in movies of the era. I suppose some members of the upper class put on their best dresses and suits so they could stare at each other across the table, but I suspect the masses were no better dressed than most of us are today when having a family meal.

tux

4.  The one-punch knockout

Sadly, this has persisted into modern-day movies. Knocking a person unconscious is not a simple task. I’ve been hit by 200-pound men (and a muscle-bound preschooler – see #1 above) and somehow I’ve never been knocked out. Yet in movies (especially older ones), people get knocked out with a quick jab to the nose. If our physiology made us that susceptible to being sent to dreamland, every football player would be knocked out on virtually every play.

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5.  The biting of the hands/fist to stifle a scream

Has anyone in real life ever done this? Really? I’ve only been on this planet for four decades, but I have yet to see a single person throw their digits into their mouth in an effort to control a screaming fit. Cover a mouth? Sure. Gnaw on a few fingers like Curly after Moe and Larry dropped a brick on his foot? Nope. Never seen it. Besides, if you want to stifle a scream you can just slap yourself into serenity. Right?

What would you add to this list?

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 

10 Movie Cops Who Could Have Been Good Runners

Two of my favorite topics are law enforcement and distance running.  So, this week let’s combine the two.  I’m going to list 10 movie cops and explain why I think they would have made good runners, and at what distance.  To conduct this study, I used a complicated algorithm that involved coffee, pistachios, and more coffee.  Here is the list in no particular order:

#10.  Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino in Heat)

Ultramarathon:  Not only was the movie itself incredibly long, but Hanna persevered in spite of taking on a competent gang of criminals and tacking relationship issues.  The final scene alone demonstrates his ability to give a race that final kick, even when handling a shotgun.  If only he could have inspired Val Kilmer to stay in shape.

scale

#9.  Clarice Starling (Jody Foster in Silence of the Lambs)

Nighttime 5Ks:  No night vision goggles needed here.  She simply blows away the competition.

#8.  John McClane (Bruce Willis in Die Hard films)

Tough Mudder & Spartan Race:  Broken glass?  No problem.  Fire?  Please.  Walls to climb?  Air vents to crawl through?  Ledges to leap from?  Whatever.  McClane fights through injuries like few others and still manages to toss around some witty one-liners.  The fact that Die Hard 2 was totally ridiculous and those planes could have landed at any number of D.C. / Baltimore / Richmond airports, is irrelevant.

airplane

#7.  Ed Exley (Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential)

10K:  This is one of my all-time favorite movie cops.  Constantly underrated and underestimated, he chugs along and lulls his competition to sleep until the final sprint.  Sure he’s overly-concerned with trophies and medals, but when push comes to shove… he’ll shoot you.

#6.  Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand in Fargo)

Frigid 5Ks & Turkey Trots:  Not snow, nor sleet, nor wood chippers can keep this Chief of Police from going the full distance.  An inspiration to pregnant runners everywhere, Minnesota’s Gunderson puts the “aye” in race.

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#5.  Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves in Speed)

The Mile:  One of the most obvious choices due to the movie title.  He was probably a good sprinter in his younger day, but drifted to the mile.  Fun fact:  He never takes public transportation or a shuttle to any event.  Never.

#4.  Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp in… well, Donnie Brasco)

Half-Marathon and Marathon Relays:  Because he’s the ultimate team player.  Or is he?

#3.  William Somerset (Morgan Freeman in Seven)

Any race he wants:  The man is a phenomenon because he could narrate his own distance race and make it sound extraordinary even if he was running in dead last place while eating a donut.

#2.  Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men)

Half-Marathon:  He’d do the full, but he’s retiring soon.  He’s a formidable competitor in the Texas heat despite his constant disappointment with the world.  You’d be well-advised to avoid trying to strike up a conversation with him during an event.

#1.  Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner in The Untouchables)

Marathon:  This character’s lines at the end of the movie tell the story.  In court with Capone he yells, “Never stop.  Never stop fighting ‘till the fight is done.  Then at the very end of the movie he answers a reporter’s question by saying, “I think I’ll have a drink.”

Name one marathoner who hasn’t been heard saying those phrases.

Who would you add to this list?  Comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Ten Scary Movie Villains Who Are Great Runners (Maybe)

Races can be scary.  Some runners are scarier.

Which villains from scary or suspenseful movies are good runners?  The competitors were assessed by several factors, most of which are made-up nonsense. 

 

 1.  Michael Myers (Halloween)

A marathoner for sure.  He just keeps coming and coming and coming and insists on playing that damn piano music on his iPod.  For 30 years, Myers has dominated races in the state of Illinois where he maintains strong family ties.

 

 2.  Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th parts 1-896)

You run.  He walks.  He wins.
Guaranteed.

Also:  He excels at trail races and plays hockey in his spare time.

 

 3.  Norman Bates (Psycho)

Can compete in either the men’s or women’s division.  You don’t mind hanging out with him after a race, because he always hits the showers first.

 

5.  Jack Torrance (The Shining)

Great at picking hotels for road races.  Also excellent at maintaining a training schedule while keeping things fun – because all work and no play does in fact make Jack a dull boy.

hotel

5.  Pennywise the Clown (IT)

Because who doesn’t love a runner in a costume?

 

 6.  Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

Understands the psychology of distance running and how to load carbs effectively. 

 

 7.  Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)

Sleep is an important factor in recovery and Freddy knows a lot about the topic.  He likes to wear his lucky sweater while running, as he doesn’t mind things that are scratchy. 

sweater

 8.  David (The Lost Boys)

This was the vampire played by Kiefer Sutherland.

Pros: He demonstrated speed, agility, and a hunger for victory.  He made vampires cool before people went crazy about them two decades later.

Cons:  Only competes in night races.

 

 9.  Max Cady (Cape Fear – 1991 version)

One of my favorite De Niro roles.  The character of Max Cady cross-trained like no other (see prison exercise scene) and was a muscular triathlete type as he excelled both on land and water.

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 10.  John Doe (Seven)

DCF 1.0

Played by Kevin Spacey (who really is a runner), he’s probably the most disturbing of the bunch, since he’s the most realistic.  He could be the guy beside you in the starting corral.  He might be the fellow you unintentionally infuriate when you pass him on Mile 7.  Or he might be sketching out a plan for your demise in his journal right this very second.  You simply don’t know.  He may not be the fastest competitor out there, but he’s never failed to finish a race.  Also – he’s known to give gifts, but I wouldn’t open that box.

As a bonus, Morgan Freeman narrates all of his races. 

 

 Want to add to this list?  Leave a comment!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and Measure Twice.  He is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

RESOLVE has been named a finalist for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers organization and was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way