I’m on Facebook and Twitter as much as the next writer and I’ll occasionally send out a tweet or post about something somebody has done to annoy me and how I’m tempted to create a thinly veiled version of that individual and have them…well, die.
In a book.
Yes, definitely in a book.
Which got me to thinking about what my latest Top Ten list would be for these annoying activities. I say “latest” because a list like this needs to remain fluid. We are all human and our levels of annoyances regarding certain activities can differ from one day to another. For instance, there was a time when simply having neon lights outlining the bottom of your Honda Accord that you loaded down with a $3000 stereo might have me considering getting you hit by a locomotive in Chapter 4 of a future thriller. However, I’ve mellowed.
So, for the moment here is my Top Ten ways to get yourself killed in one of my books.
10. General idiocy – This broad category may include racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, or the belief my home state of West Virginia is near the ocean. It’s not. That’s why the word WEST is in there. Any of these may get you shot, stabbed, dismembered, or electrocuted. Understandably, the multiple avenues of ignorance here necessitate the multiple possibilities for your demise.
9. Singing in the gym – You wore headphones. Nice work. You realized not everyone wanted to hear your favorite music. Awesome. However, now you’re singing and everyone can hear your karaoke version of Enter Sandman. It’s not pretty. You’ve chosen poorly and it’s likely you get crushed by dumbbells in a particularly gruesome chapter.
8. Referring to your vacation as a “vaca” – Your “vaca” is not okay. I admit this seems minor, so perhaps I haven’t mellowed. But, when I hear anyone say they are going on a vaca it makes me crazy. Or as some people like to say, it makes me “cra-cra”. Which, not coincidentally, will also get you killed.
7. Shooting off fireworks after the legal cut-off time – Get off my lawn! Yes, this is my grumpy ol’ man item, but I have a young child, two dogs who are terrified of fireworks, and everyone in Georgia seems to like shooting them off in the neighborhoods. I have to tolerate it up until the cut-off time, but then I’m done. You’ll die in some sort of explosion in a future book. Or perhaps I’ll only give you a painful disfigurement. Hey! I have mellowed!
6. Watching and believing Fox News – I’m not even going into this other than to say a television is going to fall on you and you’re going to stop breathing.
5. Using the word “we” when discussing your favorite sports team – Look – you’re exempt if you’re actually part of the aforementioned sports team. However, the odds are you aren’t. You didn’t throw the pass, score the goal, or hit the home run. You watched from the stands or from your couch just like millions of others. Oh, you were wearing a jersey???! Guess what? Still doesn’t count. You die in one of the later chapters of a novella in which a sports mascot dressed as a snapping turtle ironically, and tragically, snaps.
4. Being late – I’m super punctual. In fact, I’m usually early. Did you hear the one about the writer who actually beats his deadlines? Yeah, that’s me. So, I don’t deal well with anyone being late. If you keep me waiting for something there’s a better than average chance a character resembling you will be a step too slow getting out of the way of something moving really, really fast.
3. Telling me I should’t drink coffee – Are you suicidal? I mean…this could get you hurt in real life! So, if you do this then you better expect to get scolded to death in a short story somewhere along the way. Psycho!
2. Keeping your dog tied up outside all the time – I’m probably going to do the same to a character with a name like yours and nobody is coming for you. Ever.
1. Being unable to drive in a roundabout – Yes, it’s a road. Yes, it’s a circle. It’s both! Look, I get that Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. is busy and confusing. I’ll grant forgiveness for messing that one up. However, that tiny, single lane roundabout that popped up outside your suburban neighborhood is not some sort of giant codex that you need to solve before you can pass through. Whoever is in the circle has the right of way. Don’t stop in the roundabout. Doing so is real bad. Failure to adhere to basic traffic laws may cause and accident and will certainly get you whacked in an early chapter of a mystery. It might be a hit and run and the killer may never be caught. Because let’s face it – you don’t deserve closure.
Do you have a Top Ten? Comment below! Now remember – we’re talking about fiction here!
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, Bolt Action Remedy, Record Scratch, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
“There are two types of men you must fear in this world: Men who have everything to lose—and men like me.”
It’s a case Trevor Galloway doesn’t want. It’s certainly a case he doesn’t need. The client—the sister of a murdered musician—seems a bit off. She expects Galloway to not only solve her brother’s homicide, but recover a vinyl record she believes could ruin his reputation. Galloway knows he should walk away. He should simply reach over the desk, give back the envelope of cash that he admittedly needs, and walk away. However, when the client closes the meeting by putting a gun under her chin and pulling the trigger, his sense of obligation drags him down a path he may not be ready to travel.
A story divided into twelve songs from Jimmy Spartan’s final album.
Praise for RECORD SCRATCH:
“Record Scratch shocks you out of your ordinary groove. Sometimes witty, other times haunting, but when the needle jumps the track, the body count screams.” —Marc E. Fitch, author of Paradise Burns and Dirty Water
“In Record Scratch, Hensley, a former secret service agent, gifts us with a bounty of goods: a solid mystery, a damaged but relatable main character—one you root for, and swift plotting that weaves a compelling, compulsive tale of music and death and the demons carried by those in law enforcement. Bring me more Trevor!” —Shannon Kirk, international bestselling author of Method 15/33
“J.J. Hensley’s Record Scratch is a tersely written and tightly plotted gem, featuring one of the most unique protagonists around, Trevor Galloway, a man who has a way of getting himself into and out of trouble at an alarming rate. The book is action-packed with a dash of mordant wit, and I can’t wait to read more in this intense, engaging series.” —David Bell, USA Today bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter
“J.J. Hensley’s tale of a stoic PI investigating the murder of a has-been rock star is equal parts classic whodunnit and gritty noir, peppered with high-octane action scenes that will leave you breathless. Record Scratch is like a throat punch: powerful, shocking, and unapologetic, but the surprising poignant ending will stay with you a long after you’ve finished the book. This is a thriller that crackles from the first page to the last.” —Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts
BOLT ACTION REMEDY
Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.
Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.
In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.
An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.
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.
And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology