We are thrilled to welcome multi-award-winning Catriona McPherson, author of the Dandy Gilver mystery series, the Last Ditch mystery series, and numerous standalones. Please join us in celebrating the much-anticipated third Lexy Campbell mystery, out this week! Congratulations, Catriona! 🎉
What a Way To Make a Living!
(Sorry not sorry for the ear worm.)
Now, I love a good fictional fantasy job. Not the Friends-style FFJ (where a waitress in Manhattan has got her own bedroom in a flat with outside space), I mean the kind of FFJ you find in Anne Tyler novels where a man might run a restaurant that serves only one dish. Or – if I may – in my novels, where a woman might curate free clothes for a charity and fund the buying of new underwear sets by auctioning vintage finds on eBay. I’d be great at that (she claimed with enormous certainty and no evidence).
In the Last Ditch series, Lexy Campbell’s FFJ is her counselling practice. She’s a therapist who sees clients in a wee room on her houseboat. She’s not a very realistic therapist – Hey! This is escapism – since she hands out advice like “Dump him” and “Go to a matinee with a box of cashew brittle”, but her bit – Trinity for Life – is actually the most realistic branch of the parent company, Trinity Solutions. Her bestie Todd runs Trinity For You, doing make-overs of wardrobe or grooming. And her other bestie Kathi is in charge of Trinity For Home, de-cluttering and re-organising people’s houses. (Note: I made all of this up before the re-boot of the fabulous Queer Eye. But that doesn’t stop me calling it work when I hit the couch to binge-watch a new season.)
Maybe to reassure me that I’m not the only one making up implausible FFJs, I’ve pulled together my top five from literature and film. What do you think?
No. 5: Baltimore Party Host
This is Anne Tyler again. In The Amateur Marriage, a big rabblesome family give parties in their big crumbling house, often carrying on big flamboyant arguments throughout. They don’t seem to have much of a catering repertoire either, or to give any thought to what people might want. They just cook what they’ve got, iron some napkins, and call it a service. In real life, they’d be drowning in one-star reviews, but in Anne Tyler it’s charming.
No.4: Honours Orchestra Conductor (St Brennan’s School for Boys)
I admire Alexia Gordon for many reasons, but definitely in the top three is the way she decided to make a cozy mystery series including everything she liked most, daring the publishing world to stop her. Gethsemane Brown has got a BA from Vassar, a graduate degree from Yale and has served her time in professional orchestras around the world. Now she lives in a haunted cottage in rural Ireland, drinking whisky, and teaching music to teenage boys. It wouldn’t suit everyone as a life, but I challenge anyone not to love the books.
No.3: Sand Writer
This is by way of a plea. I read a novel quite recently where someone did this job – and I can’t for my life remember the name of the book. A woman lived at a beach and had a good camera. Her brilliant business idea was to write messages in the sand, take pictures, and make them into greetings cards. She even took commissions. So if you wanted “Happy ninth anniversary of the day we found the camel that time” you could have it. Is it just me, or could that totally work?
I mean, come on!
No.1 Postmistress/Knitter with own teapot
Imagine a tiny village, with maybe twenty houses at a push. It’s split in two by a beach, but you can walk from one bit to the other at low-tide. In the eastern half there’s a Post Office. It’s not very busy. So the postmistress also sells pots of tea and pastries. In bad weather, you need to phone her in advance and she’ll pop a pastry in the oven for you arriving. In good weather, with passing trade from a footpath that goes by her front door, she’ll have them ready on the off-chance. Rain or shine, she knits. Then she sells the knitting. There’s a woodstove. And a cat.
And what’s the name of the book? Well, here’s the thing; I cheated. This place is real.
It’s called Portholland and it proves that anyone who dares to say cozies are unrealistic, has never been to Cornwall.
I’d love to hear about your FFJs. Or your dream job. And if anyone knows what book that sand writer was in, please put me out of my misery!
Catriona McPherson, multiple award-winner, multiple Mary Higgins Clark award loser, was born in Scotland and lived there until immigrating in 2010. She writes the Dandy Gilver series, set in the old country in the 1930s, as well as a strand of darker (not difficult) psychological thrillers including the latest STRANGERS AT THE GATE.
After eight years in the US, she kicked off the humorous Last Ditch series, which takes a wry look at her new home. The ebook of number three, SCOT ON THE ROCKS, is coming out early what with one thing and another. It will be available on 3 Aug.
Catriona lives on 20 scruffy acres in NorCal, with a black cat and a scientist.