Please help me welcome author LS Hawker to the blog today! Hawker has a new thriller, Body and Bone, which is now available for purchase. I hope you enjoy Hawker’s post and keep reading to the bottom for an excerpt and a chance to win a copy of Body and Bone.
RADIO DAYS by LS Hawker:
Setting a novel in a radio station has been a long-time dream of mine. Early in my career, when I had no concept of how much money was required to both pay rent and eat, I worked at a small-market top-forty station in a Midwestern college town. My current thriller Body and Bone is set in a radio station modeled on that one, and the memory of it sparks almost insane levels of weepy nostalgia.
This was my first full-time job after graduating from the University of Kansas, and most of the employees were early-twenties recent college grads eager to take on the broadcasting world. We built that station from the ground up—the building wasn’t even finished when I was hired—and worked twelve- to sixteen-hour days for weeks ramping up to go on the air.
The creativity and camaraderie among the staff was electric. I was hired as the traffic manager (ad scheduler, essentially), but this was before computers, so I had to program the commercials manually. I learned to write radio ad copy during my time there, which taught me to get ideas across in a thirty-second time span. And eventually I made it on the air after telling the midday jock about a dream I’d had about Elvis Presley. This led to a daily show called “People Are So Stupid,” where we discussed things like why the federal government has a stockpile of wolfs bane. The program director hated the show and used to stand outside the studio window with his middle finger in the air while we broadcast.
Only in small-market radio could the kinds of things that happened happen. For instance, we ran a contest to win a VW Bug if you could guess the number of Xes stamped onto the car’s body. We figured it would be a great promotional gimmick to have a beat-up Volkswagen driving around town with one of our call letters all over it.
We announced our winner’s name over the air to great fanfare and almost immediately received a call from local law enforcement letting us know that the girl was a runaway. They told us they would be staking out the station to nab her when she appeared to claim her prize. One of the station jocks thought it would be funny to broadcast the confrontation live on the air with Bon Jovi’s “She’s a Little Runaway” playing in the background. The general manager did not.
Every week, we received a fax from Crimestoppers, detailing the featured crime of the week and a number to call if listeners had any information on said crime. One week, our newsguy looked at the fax and experienced déjà vu as he read a list of items that had been stolen from a local electronics store. Why did this seem so familiar? When he visited the storeroom later that day, he realized why: all of the stolen items were stockpiled there. One of the jocks had robbed the electronics store. Our GM persuaded him to turn himself in.
Our mascot was a kangaroo, so we had a roo suit made that one of our jocks, L, could wear to events. The suit was poorly constructed and slightly sinister-looking. In addition to that, L’s personal hygiene was questionable at best, and in the hot summer sun and humidity, that suit began to reek like a giant kangaroo-shaped sack full of rotting fish. Our GM was a) not good at confrontation, so he just couldn’t bring himself to tell L to take a shower, and b) cheap, so he wouldn’t pay to get the suit dry cleaned. Consequently, at events, when L approached people at events, his ripe stench parted crowds like Moses parting the Red Sea. He could clear out a room better than a bomb threat, which, as it turned out, was not an effective promotional strategy.
Alas, I was unable to stay at that radio station beyond a year because the pay was so low—the equivalent of $1100 per month in today’s dollars, so I moved home to my parents’ basement. I got another (low-paying) radio job in Denver at an AM station that played ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s music. No such format exists today, but I got an outstanding musical education there from the Mills Brothers, Guy Mitchell, the Ink Spots, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Johnny Ray—all stuff I never would have heard otherwise.
As it turned out, that was the only upside of this new station. It had recently switched to an automated format, which meant I sat in the studio from ten p.m. to 6 a.m. watching a machine. The general manager, who we affectionately referred to as the Antichrist, forbade me from doing anything but watching the computer in the unlikely event that it crashed (it never did). I was not even allowed to read—just literally stare at the machine for eight hours. So not only was I not surrounded by the same enthusiasm and friendship, I had no creative outlet.
The only interesting aspect of that station was its location—the penthouse of the Warwick Hotel, which had originally been the location of Denver’s Playboy Club. The Antichrist’s office was located in Hugh Hefner’s former bedroom, which still had tacky shag carpeting, as well as the giant round riser where Hef’s massive round bed had been. The GM’s desk sat where Hef used to…um…sleep.
That was my last radio station, and I was glad to leave. But my first one lingers in my imagination. Why? After all, I was so poor during that time that at one point I subsisted on English muffins for six weeks. So what is it about the memory of being young and poor that inspires such wistfulness? Looking back, I realize when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. We were all young and excited, at the beginning of our careers, and it seemed that anything was possible for us. That there was only one way to go, and it was up. And we were right.
Body and Bone
by LS Hawker
LS Hawker returns with another atmospheric, twisting tale of suspense that questions the nature of identity and how far a young mother is willing to go to run from the mistakes of her past.
He wants to destroy her reputation.
He wants to destroy her life.
He wants to destroy…her.
Nessa Donati used to be a happily married mother with a successful music blog and satellite radio show. But that was before her husband John relapsed on drugs and went missing. That was before he was presumed dead. And before she was framed for his murder.
When a commenter on Nessa’s blog starts harassing her online, Nessa shrugs it off. Trolls are a part of internet life. But eventually the troll begins threatening her safety and releasing personal details… details only her husband would know.
As Nessa’s life is dismantled piece by piece, her only option is to find John and put a stop to the lies. But when their son becomes a pawn in his twisted game, she must face a disturbing truth: Maybe John isn’t tormenting her, after all. But if he’s not…who is? And how far will this monster go to exact revenge?
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Published by: Witness Impulse/HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 2016
Number of Pages: 303
ISBN: 0062435221 (ISBN13: 9780062435224)
Read an excerpt:
Tuesday, May 31
Nessa Donati was going to have to sell her brand spanking new car. And all because the rear-view mirror hung in the perfect position to display an accidental glimpse of her reflection whenever she reached into the back seat. Typically she prepared herself before facing a reflective surface. But when she was caught off guard, without fail, her mother’s disappointed, sour Resting Bitch Face stared back at her.
It wasn’t that her mother was unattractive. She was, in fact, far more beautiful than Nessa could ever hope to be. It was that her mother had always used Nessa as a mirror in which to see herself without ever truly seeing Nessa.
So the new black Chrysler Pacifica would have to go.
It was nearing sunset when Nessa parked it on Crestview Drive by the Randolph Bridge, which spanned not only the Big Blue River but the northern tip of Tuttle Creek Lake as well. This was the last stop on a four-day camping trip, just Nessa, her three-year-old son Daltrey, and their Wheaton Terrier, Declan MacManus.
She checked on Daltrey, asleep in his car seat, listing to starboard, mouth open. He’d be okay for a moment, and she was glad she wouldn’t have to explain what she was about to do. She felt silly enough about it already.
Nessa and Declan MacManus exited the Pacifica, the dog running ahead, while Nessa locked and shut the door.
She walked the eighth of a mile to the river’s edge beneath the bridge as sparse traffic droned by overhead, tires making that phut phut phut sound as they traversed the seams in the asphalt. Nessa stood and watched the water flow past, appearing deceptively tranquil until a tree branch rushed by at break-neck speed. Declan sniffed happily around, pausing to mark every object he encountered with a lifted leg.
Nessa looked around to make sure she was alone, then reached into her pocket and withdrew the six-inch-long braid of her husband John’s hair. He’d cut it before their wedding five years ago. She had kept it in a velvet box all this time, never dreaming this day would come. She looked at the sky and the water, remembering all their good times on the river. This was the right place to let John’s braid go.
The water lapped against her tennis shoes as she wound up and let the braid fly. She watched it arc through the air, hit the rushing water with an inconsequential splash, and disappear. She watched for a moment and let herself cry a little. She needed this sort of closure ritual to move on with her life, like spreading his ashes. Except he wasn’t dead. Yet.
Nessa trudged back to the car, Declan MacManus meandering behind her. She unlocked and opened her door, and the dog jumped in and settled in the passenger seat. Nessa noted that Daltrey hadn’t even changed position while she was gone.
Nessa started the car, put it in gear, and headed toward home.
Forty minutes later, she parked in the converted hay barn garage behind her house and decided she’d wait until morning to unload the camping gear.
Declan MacManus jumped from the car and ran, whining, toward the other outbuildings, hops vines, and woods beyond, as Nessa climbed into the back to struggle with Daltrey’s carseat restraints. She draped him over her shoulder, and took him inside and upstairs to his big-boy bed. There, she pulled off his sandals and kissed his fat little feet before slipping him between the sheets. Good. He was out for the night. She left his door ajar, and went downstairs and out the back door to get their suitcase from the Pacifica.
Outside it was full dark, and the woods buzzed with late-spring insects. When she hit the bottom step, she saw Declan MacManus curled up in front of the outbuilding they called the boathouse. He sprang to his feet as if he’d just noticed royalty entering the room. This slowed Nessa down—what was he doing?—but she continued on to the garage, where she retrieved their luggage. When she closed the garage door, the dog jumped to his feet again, in the exact spot she’d left him.
Nessa stood staring at him, and he gazed expectantly back at her.
And then she saw it. The wooden carriage-house door’s lock was gone. In its place was a jagged hole, as if God himself had punched a massive fist through it in a fit of righteous anger.
Nessa froze, her breath captive in her throat.
She set down the suitcase and, after a moment of indecision, pulled out her phone and dialed.
Marlon Webb didn’t say hello, just, “With a student.” This was his way of saying he could be interrupted only for a very specific kind of emergency.
“Call me back,” she whispered. “I’m rethinking that whole restraining order thing.”
LS HAWKER grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.
Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called “People Are So Stupid,” edited a trade magazine and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.
She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland.
Visit LS Hawker –
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Loved this post. So interesting what she modeled her book on! Thank you for sharing.
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