Ellen Byron

A Telemarketer Gave Me a Character

I was getting ready for work this morning when I got a telephone call. In a hurry, I didn’t check Caller ID. Here’s the conversation:

Me: Hello?

Woman on the other end: Ellen?(Tinkly laugh) Hi, wow, you’re harder to reach than the last cookie in the cookie jar.

Me: (Confused) Who is this?

Woman: Oh, it’s Jenny and I’m calling from the  –

Me: CLICK!

I have no idea where Jenny was calling from because I was so ticked off that I cut off the call. Ticked off at Jenny for disrupting my morning and seriously ticked off at myself for letting Jenny’s folksy, casual patter draw me in. My husband reprimanded me for getting upset, saying, “She was just doing her job.” But I really thought she was someone I knew, and I was busy feeling guilty for not immediately recognizing the voice when Jenny revealed herself to be a telemarketing scam artist, hence my anger. (And then guilt because, well… she really was just doing her job.)

However, Jenny did me a huge favor. I spent a good part of the day recalling her tinkly laugh and that great line: “You’re harder to reach than the last cookie in the cookie jar.” And a character began forming in my head.

I’m starting to gestate a plot for the fourth book in my Cajun Country Mystery series. All I know so far is that it will revolve around Mardi Gras celebrations in my small, fictional town of Pelican, Louisiana.

MD.jpg

There will be a parade sponsored by a Mardi Gras krewe and as with the Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, the parade will feature a Krewe king and queen. In New Orleans, the kings tend to be the elders of the community while the queens are local debutantes. This will hold true of Pelican’s parade. In Pelican, however, there will be some major jockeying among the Debu-moms to land their daughter the coveted title of queen. Among those moms will be one who couches her manipulation with a folksy familiarity and says things to Maggie, my protagonist, like “Magnolia, you are harder to reach than the last cookie in the cookie jar.”

I love how characters can come to you in the most unexpected ways – like a little gift from the universe. Now I wish I’d kept Jenny on the phone. But I have a feeling she would have talked me into buying whatever she was selling. It’ll be interesting if the character I create has the same success.

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8 thoughts on “A Telemarketer Gave Me a Character

  1. Did I ever mention that I was a telemarketer back in the 80s? Sort of. I moonlighted off my editorial assistant job by making presidential campaign survey calls for NBC news at Rock Center. (They took 20 mins each and we got paid by survey completed.) I called at dinner time in every time zone. People were so excited. I mean, they really were. NBC News is on the line, Earl!!!

    Like

    • You were lucky, Lisa. I used to cold-call for political campaigns. People were pretty nice because I was calling within the party. But sometimes, and who can blame them, they’d be so annoyed because I was like, their tenth call. That night!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great way to spin a really wierd call…. and now I want to read your book.
    HOWEVER I stumbled across your post because I googled “Harder to reach than the last cookie in the cookie jar” and I that that your telemarketer is a computer.
    I think this is one phrase in a series of preprogrammed responses. When I rspoke over the voice and said “Did you just say I was harder to reach than a cookie jar?” It took a few seconds of the voice continuing before “she” repled “Oh hahaha I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend”

    Just sayin… she might not be real. But for real… I’m inerested in your books!

    Liked by 1 person

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