KIERAN SHEA’s fiction has appeared in dozens of venues including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Dogmatika, Word Riot, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Crimefactory, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir well as in some beefy-looking anthologies most of which will make you question the tether of his shiny, red balloon. To his self-deprecating astonishment he's also been nominated for the Story South’s Million Writers Award twice without sending the judges so much as a thank you note. He co-edited the satiric transgressive fiction collection D*CKED: DARK FICTION INSPIRED BY DICK CHENEY and his debut novel KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY is out now from Titan Books. Kieran divides his time between 38°58′22.6″N- 76°30′4.17″W and 39.2775° N, 74.5750° W.


Jersey Musing

Garden State pride. One of novelist Dave White's private passions and mine as well.

Being from America's punching bag toughens you, makes you stronger, and in the end, wittier I think. Second cities across the land also experience this punching bag phenomenon (Baltimore, Cleveland... I love you), as do maligned cultures throughout the globe. Scots. Irish. Jews. The no-man's land inhabitants of the Basque region. Pennsylvania Dutch. Take your pick.

Lately, there's been quite a lot of hubbub about MTV's program Jersey Shore. When people ask me where I am from and I say I grew up on the Jersey shore, the daffier in the bunch defer to this soon to be forgotten cultural footnote. Some go further and say, "Oh yeah? What exit?" Har-har. That is soooooo original, ass-hat. Look, you want to think that way, fine. Cling to a stereotype. The way we see it (and I mean statewide in New Jersey) that kind of attitude keeps people away, at least the people we'd like to keep away from Jersey in general. People who don't love the place... bruises, scars, and all.

Growing up we had a term for summer people slogging down the Parkway and clogging up the roads: bennies. Loosely, a benny was invader north of the Raritan River Bridge, especially a New Yorker. Personally, I welcomed visitors to the shore because I knew much of the shore's economy clung and still clings tenuously to a financial cliff. Face it, without tourist dollars seaside living would be totally screwed. Restaurants where I worked, the Garden State Parkway which I also worked for...try keeping those things alive without tourists. Some friends of mine worked on boats...God...without upstate and out-of-state fisherman paying top dollar or twenty bucks a head on a party boat to chase bluefish and makos...kiss that cash goodbye. Truthfully, I only used the term when some non-local was utterly rude and disrespectful to residents or people working to make their visits enjoyable. Goons leaving trash on the beach, double-parking, bitching to a waitress. Some say the term came from "B" for Bayonne, "E" for Elizabeth, "N" for Newark, and "NY" for New York...down south, people use the term "shoobies" which last I heard came from Philadelphians coming in on the train with their lunches in shoe-boxes. Now that I divide my time between Ocean City, NJ and Annapolis, I hear this more. Lately some misdirected ruffians take this localism into unproductive sometimes violent confrontations. What a waste. Give respect, get respect. That's the code--statewide. I love NJ. Come visit, I'll buy you a slice.