Guest Chick: Amy Pershing

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!

Book cover 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.

Photo of Amy Pershing

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: 




48 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Amy Pershing

    1. Walnut sorter? That’s interesting, Linda! I was the unofficial walnut cracker in my household. We used to get buckets of walnuts from the nearby orchards, and I’d have to crack them to store them for future use.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve never had any weird jobs, unfortunately. I guess the weirdest would probably be author, only because at times I need to look up weird stuff. Congrats on your debut! It sounds wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Amy, Congratulations on finding a new job you love and applying those very important life lessons! Jobs – gosh, there have been so many. Most unusual/first after college might have been US Army Military Intelligence officer in the 1980s, stationed in Germany (when there was still the USSR). Took my unit to the East/West German border for training and was informed that, if the Soviets invaded, we were expected to remain in place, regardless. Last job was the Executive Officer to the NASA Chief Information Officer in DC. Or, as I put it, never bored, never caught up, never out of work. But I saw amazing things and met the most brilliant people, on & off the planet. Thanks for asking and I’m heading in to get your book!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Three cheers to your debut novel, Amy! Working weird jobs sure makes life interesting, doesn’t it? The most unusual one I had was in college back in the 80s. I worked in a garage, taking plain delivery vans and customizing them into luxury passenger vans. Every day was something different.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So great to be here, Jennifer! A former naval air station? That is unique! I have visions of deserted quonset huts and long runways with weeds peeking up through the cracks…


  4. Amy, thanks for visiting today with the Chicks — your new series sounds fab! And, working with Stephen King: wow!
    My years as a small-town newspaper reporter included covering everything from an alderman walking out of a rowdy board meeting to covering the Miss Nanny Goat pageant, which was weird and wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Weirdest job I ever had was an internship in college working for the parole department. It was “intensive supervision” for juveniles, so the parole officer and I would check in with his kids several times a day. Once, he had me go to a junior high to arrest one of them for smoking in the bathroom, violating her orders. I had to handcuff her, perp walk her out, and everything! She cried and I felt terrible. The beginning of the end of my career in law enforcement.

    Congrats on your new career, Amy! May it always be weird!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My weirdest job was working in a local clothing factory. I cut fabric, sorted & sized items, inspected and most fun of all, tagged items with the tagging gun. Yes, someone actually got paid to attach the hang tags to your clothes. I called it “fishboning” because the plastic strips remind me of fish bones.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I often look back at my life and see that all those weird things I’ve done have led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to wind up here, but I’m happy I did.

    Congrats on the debut. (I’ve already enjoyed it, so no need to enter me in the contest.)

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I used to envy those people too, Amy, until I had a friend who sacrificed and worked hard to become a doctor, and then hated it. Be careful what you wish for, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  8. So fun to read about all your amazing jobs, Amy, and I’m so glad you could visit with the Chicks today! The new book sounds fab–congrats!

    When I worked as a research and appellate attorney, writing research memos, motions to compel, and appellate briefs, I was convinced that was the worst job ever: tedious and boring, but requiring absolute concentration. But then I realized, hey, at least I’m being paid for WRITING. And my attitude improved greatly.

    And besides, that job didn’t come anywhere close to the absolute weirdest one I had. That would be working at a diaper service. And yes, it entails what you think it does.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was always the way I saw the tedious parts of my communications work, too — I was being paid to put words on paper. As that was literally the only skill I had, I couldn’t complain, right?

      As for the diaper service, I don’t even want to think…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Amy, so nice to meet you! Thanks for visiting us Chicks today, and loved your post. Your book sounds fabulous. It’ll be right up my alley, since I adore the Cape–though I have to say my summer in Chatham as an archery/swimming counselor at a sailing camp (Avalon) was…interesting. No one but me wanted to do any archery, lol. My weirdest job may have been moonlighting from my publishing job (one of them was at Stephen King’s paperback publisher) as a pollster for NBC News at Rock Center. We worked from 6 pm to 1 am (EST to PST), calling people to answer a 20-min script’s worth of questions. We got paid extra for every script we made it through (yes, there may have been cajoling involved). At the time, people loved to give their opionions over the phone. But if they balked at the last question (which income range do you fall into?), we didn’t get paid, lol.


    1. My apologies, Lisa, if this reply shows up twice — could have sworn I posted it, but (surprise!), it’s not here (at least that I can see). Anyway…

      Delighted to meet another Cape Cod fan girl! I bet you anything that you’d have takers for archery now, given the success of the Hunger Games. Anyway, that’s my definition of a good weird job — you get paid for doing nada 😉 Also bet your cajoling training came in handy for every other job you ever had!


  10. So sorry I’m late to this party! What a great post. I’m jealous of (some of) your jobs!
    I’ve had some weird support jobs in my life. But the worst was right after college (late 70s), wearing a styrofoam Barber Shop Quartet-type hat as I handed out menthol cigarette samples in front of Bloomingdale’s in NY. I’m so sorry, world! I was 21 and didn’t know better.


    1. And I’m sorry to be late in replying, Ellen! I spent most of yesterday at various doctor appointments, trying to catch up after a year of lock down. It felt so strange to be looking forward to a check up!

      Menthol cigarettes! I remember menthol cigarettes! You know, we moved to New York in the late 70s, so it’s entirely possible I saw you outside of Bloomingdale’s! Bloomies was sort of my happy place, where I could walk around imagining that I could actually buy something there.


  11. Welcome, Amy, and congrats on your debut!

    I’m not sure if it counts as weird exactly, but a memorable job I had was as a bra-fitter. The most interesting aspect was that the fittees would almost always tell me very personal things about their lives, their work, their kids, their marriages, etc. I think the intimacy of the situation was conducive to these kinds of conversations!


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