I have a confession to make.
I am a huge 80s-era slasher movie fan. Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Happy Birthday to Me, Terror Train, Prom Night… I’ve watched all of them and more. And no matter how many times I’ve seen these flicks, it’s always as if I have no idea who the slasher is; I still get just as scared, just as adrenalized during the heart-pounding reveal scenes. I’m still a total, fixated wuss.
So I suppose it’s no surprise that I wrote a new series about a ghost from the 1980s who died as if she was in one of these movies. A dark forest, a party with raucous young’uns, a killer wearing a grotesque mask to hide his or her identity…all of these are elements of Only the Good Die Young, the first book in my Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire series.
Why is she a “ghost for hire” though? This should explain well enough!
You know the theory that ghosts are energy trapped when someone dies violently? It’s true. I know it for a fact…
My name is Jensen Murphy, and thirty years ago I was just an ordinary California girl. I had friends, family, a guy who might be The One. Ordinary—until I became a statistic, one of the unsolved murders of the year. Afterwards, I didn’t go anywhere in pursuit of any bright light—I stayed under the oak tree where my body was found, and relived my death, over and over. So when a psychic named Amanda Lee Minter pulled me out of that loop into the real world, I was grateful.
So I’m now a ghost-at-large—rescued by Amanda (I found out) to be a supernatural snoop. I’m helping her uncover a killer (not mine—she promises me we’ll get to that) which should be easy for a spirit. Except that I’ve found out that even ghosts have enemies, human—and otherwise…
It took me a while to get used to being a real ghost, and I only say that because, since my death, I guess I was in some kind of state of shock.
That’s what Amanda Lee told me, anyway.
My so-called savior was an intuitive and, well, let’s just be honest, a different lady. First of all, when she pronounces her name, it sounds just like that creepy house in the book Rebecca. Remember “Manderley”? That’s how Amanda Lee says her name, except with an “a” at the beginning. “A MANdaley.” I think it’s because of the years she
spent living in Virginia before moving to SoCal. She told me a little bit about that after she rescued me from the woods, but we’ve basically been talking about me instead ever since then.
At least, she’s been telling me what she knows of my story.
Based on what my friends had said to the police about that night, the tale went a little something like this: a young college dropout slash Round Table Pizza waitress and her buddies went out late to frolic in the spooky old forest out of sheer boredom. Said waitress drank scads of soda pop because she’d been in charge of carting around her doped up buddies that particular night, then wandered off to take a pee, never to return.
And that’s all she wrote. No body, no trace of evidence that would help the cops to find me—not much of anything, really.
Weirdly, when I heard what’d happened to me, it didn’t surprise me all that much, because the second I snapped out of what Amanda Lee called my “residual haunting phase”—a time loop I was clearly stuck in until she yanked me out of it with the psychic mojo in her voice and the sight of the bracelets from my era—I knew just what I was.
Deader than a doornail. Deader than a shrunken head. Deader than when video killed the radio star.
Very dead indeed. Actually, I had been living that truth over and over for a long time in that forest, so death didn’t seem like all that big of an issue when I became an intelligent spirit. What actually freaked me out more than anything was the fact that I didn’t remember who my killer was. I guess I’d spent so much time in my non-interactive ghost state that I’d gone a little numb. Or maybe, as Amanda Lee suggested, I had some sort of “fright wall” erected in my brain, and that was the only thing keeping my fragile spirit psyche together.
Amanda Lee thinks my memories will all come back to me, though, just as soon as I’m ready to deal. And, being a total rich-lady do-gooder, she promised to help me figure out my deal. To her, I was a real live…I mean…not-totally-alive mystery.
I’d latched on to Amanda Lee’s offer to help me straightaway, mainly because she also told me I’m probably “tethered” to this plane because of being killed, and the only way my soul can find peace would be to take care of my earthly business.
Funny, huh? That word—“tethered.” Like I was a volleyball tied to a pole, winding around it and around it, going nowhere…
ISBN: 978-0451416995 Penguin Roc 2014
Copyright: Chris Marie Green
Chris Marie Green is the author of ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG, the first book in the Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire series from Roc, which features a fun-loving spirit from the 80s. She also wrote the urban fantasy Vampire Babylon series from Ace Books
She tries her best to avoid international incidents whenever she takes a break from her first love, writing, and cheats on it with her other true love—traveling. She has alter egos named Christine Cody, who wrote the dark fantasy Bloodlands trilogy, and Crystal Green, who likes to write romance.
Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green
The She Code