Hi! It’s Jennifer. I’m happy to host Amy Pershing today. She’s written a great post on all the weird (read: amazing) jobs she’s had. Welcome to the Chicks, and congrats on your debut, Amy!
Always raise your hand for the weird job
I’m sometimes asked how I got into this mystery writing gig. I get it. It’s a weird job. But I’ve always raised my hand for the weird jobs. And never regretted it. (Except cocktail waitress. Definitely regretted that one. Never, ever, raise your hand to be a cocktail waitress.)
My first job out of college wasn’t weird at all. But I was. I went to work at a very literary publishing house, though literary I was not. I liked commercial fiction. Preferably mysteries, but all genres happily devoured. One day the publisher walked into our assistant editor gulag and said, “I’ve got a manuscript here from some horror writer who seems to be making a name for himself. Who wants to do the first read?” I practically snatched the manuscript out of his hand. Which is how I came to work with the wonderful Stephen King. Stephen King, whose two great lessons to me were: “Write something, anything, every day, whether you’re in the mood or not” and “tell a good story.”
Jump forward a couple of years. Now I’m a “journalist” at an English-language newspaper in Rome. They asked me if I’d like to turn their truly terrible op-ed pieces written by a guy who thought he was a poet into something actually readable. Nope, I thought. “Yes,” I said. It was painful, but I’ve never regretted it. Lesson learned: A clean sentence is a thing of rare beauty.
After eating my way through Italy for two years, I went back to New York. One night, a friend of a friend, a restaurant reviewer named Andy Birsh (who would later go on to write the New York restaurant reviews for Gourmet magazine), needed a few tasting buddies at a very cool new Italian restaurant in midtown. The kind of place where you’d spot Robert DeNiro or Diane Keaton. In fact, we actually spotted Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton. But my risotto was gummy and my saltimbocca was tough and didn’t even have a sage leaf. When Andy asked me what I thought, I was honest. The next thing I knew, he was asking me if I wanted to write the review. I’m not a restaurant reviewer, I thought. “You betcha,” I said. And so, for two years, I wrote restaurant reviews. Best weird job ever.
And then came the kids and the dog. All wonderful. But I needed something that would help with the college fund and vet bills. So, on to the corporate world, writing employee communications every day, whether I was in the mood or not. But once that last tuition bill was paid, my husband suggested I try my hand at writing a mystery. I’m not a mystery writer, I thought. “Okay,” I said. And promptly sat down and wrote A Side of Murder. About an ex-chef who becomes a restaurant reviewer and an amateur sleuth. Because, weirdly, I’d learned (or hoped I had!) how to tell a good story. Because, weirdly, I’d learned how to write a clean sentence. Because, weirdly, I’d learned to write something, anything, every single day, whether I was in the mood or not. Because, weirdly, I’d learned about food and restaurant reviewing.
Because, weirdly, I’d always raised my hand for the weird job.
Readers, What’s the weirdest job you ever had? Comment for a chance to win a copy of A Side of Murder!
SYNOPSIS: A Side of Murder is the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef and the world’s most reluctant YouTube star, who Elizabeth Gilbert called “the brave, sarcastic, crime-solving, relatable heroine we’ve all been waiting for.” After retreating home to the Cape, Sam tries to balance her new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie” with her complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house and a ginormous puppy. Along the way, she also discovers a new talent – a propensity for falling over dead bodies … and for solving crime.
BIO: Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith. She’s also an unapologetic cheerleader for Cape Cod, where she spent every summer of her childhood sailing, swimming, and never, as far as she can remember, putting on a pair of shoes from June to September. In her previous incarnations, she’s been an editor, a journalist, a restaurant reviewer and the head of employee communications at a global bank. She’s now happily writing full time (and spending more time sailing on the Cape!). A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, is her debut novel.
Buy link: https://amzn.to/3bm7Y2v