We’re thrilled to have Aimee Hix joining us today. She is the author of What Doesn’t Kill You (A Willa Pennington, PI Mystery), which Maggie Barbieri calls “One of the best debut efforts I’ve ever seen.” It’s currently in stores.
I had a good job once upon a time. I was a junior executive. I did something that was interesting to me and at which I was fairly talented. And then I decided to quit that good job making a good salary and be a writer. And not because I’d earned an eye wateringly exorbitant offer from a publisher complete with my own private island and jet (although, Oprah, if you’re looking to start a publishing company I have some ideas). I hadn’t even gotten an agent yet with my unedited first manuscript. Yes, it was unedited. And it wasn’t entirely because the corporate culture at work had changed so drastically with the advent of a new CEO that in less than a year the whole environment had become toxic (although that’s true). Or that my daughter was starting high school and I’d always thought it was a good idea to have a parent home during those crucial years.
I quit because there was no next step up the ladder…at least, not one I was interested in. Endless meetings and paper pushing was not enticing. And I was “the” expert at what I was doing—a singularly important skill to the work we were doing but not easily transferable to another company. I was stagnating. I had stagnated and hadn’t realized it.
Quitting my job and relaunching as a writer wasn’t about having a new job or even a new career. Sure, I’d written a book while I was gainfully employed. One. Singular. And I’d learned a lot. I could have kept on writing that way. Most people do. I knew there was only an infinitesimal chance of making the same kind of money corporate America remunerated me with. Although it wasn’t enough; not for my skill, nor my experience, nor my one of a kind knowledge. And that was my deciding moment…if I was going to make less money than I deserved then I wanted to do it on my own terms.
It was simple. I wasn’t willing to go the rest of my life not learning anything new. I wanted to be a beginner again. I wanted the rush of no safety net. Of learning without a reason other than I wanted to learn. And I’d always known I would write books someday. That mythical someday. But there’s an old saying…there are seven days in a week and someday isn’t one of them.
Someday had arrived. I spent nine straight months revising the manuscript and pondering better ways to get my ideas across. Then I queried. I did it for feedback as much as the desire to be published. It was all part of the learning process too. Finding the right fit was important; someone willing to give me room to grow. Plus I knew the manuscript wasn’t solidly in one subgenre or another—as a label crime fiction suited it best—and I needed a champion who believed in the book (and me) with it’s (our) roundish peg and who could find the right publishing home for both of us. I found him and he found us the best home—a home that was more than okay that subgenre wasn’t our thing and that loved us all the more for it.
I have mentors aplenty. They’re all wonderful. They all refuse to take as much credit as they deserve. Mentors can teach, they can lead, they can present but I have to learn. And there is much to learn. That’s the job of a beginner though, isn’t it?
Thanks Aimee for that great post! Readers, if you could quit your day job, what would you do? And don’t forget to pick up a copy of What Doesn’t Kill You.
About the Book:
Favors are for suckers, especially when they lead you straight to a dead body.
Willa Pennington thought that becoming a PI would be better than being a cop. She thought she’d never have to make another death notification or don a bulletproof vest again. She thought she’d be safe.
But she couldn’t have been more wrong, because Willa’s real problem is that she’s always sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. And people really don’t like that.
Now, agreeing to do a simple favor has netted her a dead body, a missing person, and an old friend who just may be a very bad guy. If whoever is trying to kill her would lay off she could solve the murder, find the missing girl, and figure out if the person she’s trusted with her life is the one trying to end it.
An inability to pass the sight requirements and a deep aversion to federal prison prevented Aimee from lying on her FBI application so she set her deficient eyes on what most Northern Virginians do for work – the non-law enforcement side of the federal government.
After twenty years as a federal contractor, she retired and turned to fictional murder. She is the author of the Willa Pennington series set in Fairfax County, Virginia. The first book, What Doesn’t Kill You, was published on January 8, 2018 from Midnight Ink.