The interns were sloughing off turkey hangovers on Monday morning when Brad burst into the offices of BradParksBooks.com wearing a beat up bomber jacket, a scarf tied loosely about his neck and a pair of aviator glasses.
He thrust out his chest, removed the glasses so he could gaze wistfully in the distance, then struck a heroic pose.
"I have an announcement," he said. "A leading website has named Brad Parks one of the Sexiest Crime Fiction Authors of 2011."
"Is this a joke? Were you mistakenly placed in the Pygmy Albino category or something?" asked Zach, the silly intern, but Brad wasn't paying attention to anyone but himself.
"Brad Parks has often looked at Brad Parks in the mirror and said to Brad Parks, 'You know, Brad Parks, you really are one sexy beast,'" he said, "Brad Parks would like to further add that Brad Parks is deeply humbled by this recognition being bestowed on Brad Parks, and Brad Parks would like to thank all those other crime fiction authors out there for trying their best but, despite their best efforts, not being quite as sexy as Brad Parks."
He returned the aviator glasses to his face and said, "Now, get to work!"
"Work on what? Suppressing my gag reflex?" Zach said. "Because the only thing that makes me want to hurl more than you being a sex symbol is you talking about yourself in the third person."
"Seriously, boss, this is, uh, nice I guess," said Sarah, the smart intern. "But what are we supposed to do with it?"
"People, people," Brad said. "Haven't you learned by now that sex sells? We've got a book coming out in March. Your job is to use my newfound sex appeal to propel it to the bestseller list. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a facial and a mani-pedi, then I need to spend the rest of the morning primping. Got to stay sexy, you know. Ciao!"
With that, he departed the office, leaving the interns sitting in stunned silence for a good two minutes.
Eventually, Sarah said, "Well, you heard the boss. Let's get to work."
"Sexiest crime fiction author," said Peter, the slothful intern. "Is that sort of like being named the best ski resort in Florida?"
"More like becoming valedictorian of your reform school," Zach suggested.
"Oh, I don't know," said Maggie, the clueless intern. "Brad's not so bad. Maybe with a little bit of help, we could turn him into a sex symbol."
"How? By bioengineering a virus that induces mass blindness?" asked Zach.
"That's a good idea, but I've got a better one," Maggie said. "We just need a sexy photo shoot!"
"A what?" the other three said in unison.
"No, no, it'll be perfect," Maggie said. "You'll see!"
Right. Uh, so... Without further delay: Brad's sexy photo shoot, starting with his Top Gun outfit...
... Riding his bike...
... In his James Dean phase...
... Getting his due from People Magazine...
... And... oh, no. Seriously?
"That last one is just nasty," Zach said.
"Come on, you know Brad has a thing for Paris Hilton," Maggie said.
"This is a new low, even for us," Peter said.
Sarah just shook her head and sighed: "We are SO getting sued."
Yours in PhotoShop,
The BradParksBooks.com Interns
P.S. As a courtesy—and because Brad's agent will kill them if they don't—the interns would like to remind you that the next Carter Ross adventure, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, goes on sale March 13. You can preorder it by visiting IndieBound, Barnes & Noble or Amazon, or by meandering down to your favorite brick and mortar store and asking them to reserve a copy for you. Just try to resist the urge to deface the author photo.