Monday, December 11, 2006

Working Girls by Michelle M Pillow

Thinking of what to make my first blog here on Lust Bites, naturally my thoughts turned to the Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease video I found on Amazon.com when holiday shopping.

OK, so actually the thought digression was more…blog, should be working, must do shopping, stripper aerobics, strippers, interesting way to earn money, too bad I can’t dance, I once wrote a stripper book character named Sapphire, why do the women always seem to dance around the pole…. From the word “pole” my mind kind of spiraled deep into the gutter. I’ll let you know when I manage to get it out of there.

So I am curious, what jobs did my fellow authors have before becoming published, or maybe still do have? Do you ever give your characters your old jobs? Or ones you’d love to have?

Though I was never a stripper, I have had some interesting jobs. I’ve worked at a tattoo shop for many years, coordinated large banquets, done permanent hair removal, worked as a CNA in a nursing home, freelance photography, baker, waitress, even helped briefly on a farm doing irrigation. The “dirtiest” job I ever had was telemarketing as a teenager. I quit after less than a week. Now, aside from writing, I own a successful business.

I think I tend to work vicariously through my characters as well, giving them jobs I’m curious about or jobs I’ve had. Really, what could be better than experiencing the job without the years upon years of schooling to get there? In my next Virgin release, Bit by the Bug the main character Kat Matthews works as a photographer. Photography has been a long time love of mine and I still take the occasional freelance job. Some of her dreams, like landing a gallery show are still my own. Then, the hero, Dr Vincent Richmond, is an entomologist. Working with bugs is something I could probably never do in real life, but they do fascinate me. As does his strange “hobby” of milking poisonous spiders. Not to mention I loved answering the question of: What would a bug scientist talk about on the first date anyway? LOL

FOR THE READERS- TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!
What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had? The best? The worst? What job would be your “you couldn’t pay me enough”? What do you think would be the most exciting way to make a living? (historical/ futuristic/ paranormal jobs okay here to—let your imaginations run wild!) Any favorite character jobs you’d like to see more of in books or those you’ve loved reading about?

Michelle M Pillow
www.michellepillow.com

32 comments:

Mathilde Madden said...

This is a slight tangent, but only a slight one. My first three Black Lace novels were contemporaries and I have written lots of contemporary-set short stories. I have alwasy found finding convincing jobs for my characters - that I could write about without having to do much research - hard work. I used up all the jobs I'd ever done ages ago.

I've done vague, spurious internet companies, website designers, post graduate students, 'advertising', IT consultancy. I don't know if I could come up with another. I don't know how you authors with twenty books to your name do it.

Thank god for paranormals. In my upcoming series it's easy. Hero's job: Werewolf, Heroine's job: werewolf hunter!

(Yes, being a werewolf *is* a full time job. Shut up.)

Alison Tyler said...

I think I've had more than 50 jobs. I give them to my characters all the time. I've been a deejay, a masseuse, a caterer, a personal assistant... I've worked in casting on movies, was a popcorn girl at a retro theater, served as a retail slut... I worked at a newspaper, for a publishing house, on different web sites and magazines. In high school, I cleaned at a B&B and organized lipsticks at a beauty supply... but I tend to "steal" from my friends' (and lovers') experiences, as well.

I'm in awe of writers like you, Tilly. I don't think I'd know where to start for werewolf hunter!

Cheers,
Alison

Portia Da Costa said...

My jobs... oh, it's all too depressing! I was a librarian once, and it drove me to nervous breakdown. Really! When I got my head back together, I descended into various dreary clerking jobs, working for The Man. Way to destroy the soul or what?

So I always have to research and 'make up stuff' about the jobs my heroes and heroines do... or play tricks like having them be on holiday and taking a complete break, or off sick! LOL

I've got away with it so far, mainly because my books are intense and a bit psychologically claustrophobic. They're all about the characters' internal and emotional lives, so the stories skate very, very lightly over their employment.

The heroine in one of my current WIPs is a web designer, and I do a bit of that myself, so I'm okay there... The hero? Well, he's not exactly in a position to have a proper job... Intrigued? Well, you'll just have to hope some kind editor takes the book. :)

In my other WIP, both protagonists are on hiatus from their real careers due to major life traumas, so I've managed to do my usual employment sidestep copout there... yet again!

Bad me... I should do more research. But I'm just too lazy! :)

Madelynne Ellis said...

Ah, now I haven't had all that many jobs, bar work, a bit of retail, data entry, post grad lab work & teaching, but strangely enough I have done the entomology thing. Yep, I reared mosquitoes, mashed black flies and watched locusts being sick. Believe me, it's not that exciting.

As for my books, archaelogist might be fun, likewise fashion designer, but my real dream job would have to be dragon conservationist, or maybe evil goth sorceress!

Nikki Magennis said...

'Milking poisonous spiders', Michelle - my word!??!

Currently I seem to be hand-painting chairs for money. Under an assumed name, of course...

Like most writers I believe I've had my run of weird work. One job involved feeding leftover spam fritters into a big machine that chewed them all up. (I lasted two days). I've been a life model, art tutor, gardener, theatre-dog-of-all-trades, decorator, designer and in a spectacular stroke of misunderstanding on both parts, an IT technician for a school. I spent a year smoking in the boiler room and reading detective novels, in my long white coat.

Here's a useful lesson - put on a white coat and the average person presumes you are instantly capable of rocket science!

These days, however, I am able to spend most of my time languishing in the hot tub while dictating novels to my nubile young slave boy. Ah, the glamour...

Nikki Magennis said...

Hmm, there seems to be an insect theme going on...

I've painted a few, but never spent quality time with living specimens. I think that job sounds amazing, Madelynne. Apart from the sick locusts. And maybe the mashed flies.

Portia Da Costa said...

Nikki, has your slaveboy got a friend looking for a job? There may be an opening [ahem!] here!

Shanna Germain said...

I've worked about a million jobs as well: in a nursery (plants, not babies), as an "ice cream cone girl," a waitress (including on job at a restaurant where we had to do the twist on the counter), on a construction crew, a newspaper reporter, a photographer, an office worker (that lasted a long time, let me tell you -- not!), a freelance writer, an editor...

But the jobs I include in my work most often are: bartending and my work as a firefighter/paramedic. I did both through college, and after, and it gave me lots to write about, because both of these jobs were filled with inherent sexuality.

On the bartending front, there were the sexy drink names, the flirting with customers and co-workers, the amount of drunk people (which raises sexuality, but only at a very specific level of drunkeness; after that, it goes downhill fast). In fact, I'm currently editing an anthology of short erotica that deals, in some ways, with this very subject!

The firefighter/paramedic job was a completely different world, very much a man's world where I was the only female. And, despite being able to haul a crapload of hose and pull half-dead people out of buildings and try to bring them back to life, I'm pretty much a fem. So there was this whole change in dynamics when I entered the fire station. Not to mention a million tanned, buffed men in uniform... It's not something I've yet captured properly in writing, but I hope to eventually.

Now, my job is to...write. Which in some ways, offers a lot less fodder than all those other jobs with co-workers and bosses and drama. I sometimes think I should get a part-time job again, just to have access to people's lives on a day-to-day basis. But then I remember how much I love writing, and I think, "no way." Maybe if I ever run out of ideas, but that hasn't happened yet!

Mathilde Madden said...

That's really interesting, Shanna, because I've always wanted to write something with a medical setting - but the research is just too off putting.

I suppose it's similar to why I wanted to write about disability for Equal Opportunities: something about the body and physicality and sexuality. Or, maybe I just have a medical fetish.

In Silver Collar the werewolf hero was once training to be a doctor and another character is a nurse. But I am purely winging it, though. I can get away with quite a lot of psuedo science because it's a paranormal, but if I had the time I would so volunteer at a hospital for experience.

Nikki Magennis said...

Put them in a white coat, Mathilde. I swear, the effect is instantaneous!

Madelynne Ellis said...

I used to love swanning about in my white coat, with my silver and yellow radiation detector on the pocket. I don't miss bending over and having all the pens fall out of the top pocket, though.

Michelle M Pillow said...

Madelynne -- Perhaps, you needed a slave boy to pick up the pens for you, lol. Is there some kind of job pool we can get those from?

Milking Spiders for Venom. -- My family is constantly watching nature and animal shows and so I see things like this all the time by default. LOL Some pretty interesting stuff.

I love research. I've got shelves upon shelves of nonfiction books spilling out of my office. Often I pick what kind of book I'm going to write by what I feel like looking up that day, lol. I just have to be careful not to spend too much time over-researching to the point most of what I got doesn't go into the work.

Nikki Magennis said...

Ah, research. My favourite activity. (Other than auditioning new slaveboys, natch.)

I can spend days reading up on Cuban dating practises or ballet-school timetables or the manual fertilisation methods of vanilla orchids. I'm great at pub quizzes, but the research doesn't always end up in the book. Most of it floats round in my head and bothers me in the middle of the night...

kristina lloyd said...

Worst job ever: working in a massive, subterranean launderette that serviced three major London hospitals. It had a mangle as big as a house and we had to feed it bedsheet after bedsheet after bedsheet. I swear, above the door there was a sign saying, ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’

And may I go ever so slightly off-message and add: men in crisp, white coats ... Oh, my! Now that, I could happily over-research.

Annmarie said...

I've only worked two different type jobs and neither of them would qualify as my idea of a cool place for my heroine to work. I've done a lot of daycare and worked as an intern for an art department at a company that made soda racks. Not very interesting...
Annmarie McKenna

mandymroth said...

Ah, getting lost in research...my favorite thing to do. Kind of ticks me off when I realize I did it all to only use the information in one paragraph but in the end I upped my useless knowledge factor. *snicker*

I've done a little bit of everything too. I've answered phones, made pizzas, taken x-rays (worked for chiropractor), put together newspapers, designed labels, taught computers grades K-8, headed a marketing department, interviewed famous chefs and now I write full time. I'm sure there were more things sprinkled throughout but I can't think of them now.

I come by it honestly. My mother was a single parent and worked just about any job she could to make ends meet. She cut hair, drove a bus, was a bartender, made crafts, allowed an EMT service to be run out of the back of our home until they could buy a building of their own... there are SO many different things she exposed me to growing up that I'm sure she's the reason I do what I do. Oooo, I'd like to point the finger and blame her for my oddities.

Mathilde Madden said...

I have - in the current draft anyway - got the hero saying, 'Trust me, I'm a doctor.'

Ha ha. I have no shame. He doesn't wear a white coat though. I have a werewolf scientist/torturer who does. But it's a very dirty white coat. Because of the torture. And the silver nitrate.

Portia Da Costa said...

What did the intern job entail, AnneMarie? I think it's fun to make an ordinary job into something extraordinary in a book. In Entertaining Mr Stone, my heroine Maria has the most boring clerical job in local government, much like the one I once had... but it wasn't long before she discovered that her workplace was a simmering hotbed of naughty hi jinks beneath the surface.

Unfortunately, when I was working in local government, there wasn't actually a simmering hotbed... or if there was one, I was never initiated into it! I will kick myself if someone contacts me now and says there *was* all sorts of naughtiness afoot... and I missed it!

angelsandinsects said...

I worked as an artists' model for a while - my whole family are artists, so lying about naked while people drew me was not in the least strange or even, for me, particularly naughty. It's wonderful having people pay as much devoted attention to the curve of your elbow as the curve of your breast - and lying at the epicentre of that concentrated silence...

mandymroth said...

Angel,

I always wondered how it was for the models. In life drawing classes I'd forget they were naked...if that makes any sense. I too would get lost in the positive or negative space, ignoring the fact they didn't have a bit of clothing on.

I admire anyone who can go up there and model.

angelsandinsects said...

My most amusing life-drawing moment: I had to cancel a sitting at the last moment, and arranged for a friend to go in my place. They were absolutely outraged, as they were halfway through clay sculptures and would surely have to redo everything - then my friend took her clothes off. I really had sent my body-double, and they could just continue with the same piece.

My other jobs have been lots of temping - it's killingly dull, and fills one's mind with far too much trivia so that it's enormously difficult to write when one gets home. On the plus side, you get a privileged insight into a wide variety of companies, and I never hesitated to read the private files I was meant to be alphabetising and slotting into place. And teaching, which combines better with writing than anything else I've tried. Alas - I'm not yet in a position to kick the day job...

Nikki Magennis said...

Ola chicas. Nice to see you here...

Um... forgive the Brit, but annmarie, what is a 'soda rack?'

Mandy - famous chefs? Anyone we know?

Portia - I was also a civil servant. We had a hotbed in the tearoom. Only I signed the 'thing' and I'm not allowed to talk about it.

Angelsandinsects - ah, thought we might tempt you with the bug references!
Did you get all trippy while modelling? I always started hallucinating. Probably from not breathing properly. They put me in a tutu that belonged to an 11 year old and I nearly passed out...

Where's Alana? She really was a stripper, you know. Just wrote about it recently. If only I could fix the links, I'd send you over to her blog...

angelsandinsects said...

Ciao Nikki - yeah, locusts rock (so biblical, so portentous), flies are good (in a post-apocalyptic way) and mosquitos have their place - but goddess forfend we deal with spiders. They eat things like me.

Trippy - no; I was never forced into tutus, being perpetually naked. But extremely zen. My favourite group was a collection of middle-aged women deeply concerned for my comfort and full of wonderful compliments. Unlike most artists' groups, they weren't worried about interesting postures (even the most relaxed pose quickly turns to muscle-fire). Plus they heaped cushions beneath me and surrounded me with heaters - while storms lashed outside, I lay afloat in my cocoon of adoration. I think I just like people looking at me ;-)

kathrynoh said...

My worst job ever was definitely as a phone psychic. It had to be the most depressing job ever - 99% of the calls are from women having affairs and wanting to know if he's going to leave his wife. You don't need to be psychic to answer that!

I once met a girl who wrote love letters for people. I always thought that would be an interesting job to use in a story.

Nikki Magennis said...

Hi Kathryn - writing love letters?

That's beautiful. I want that job. Where did she get it?

(Uh, not that I'm looking, you understand. Got plenty of chairs to paint....)

Michelle M Pillow said...

Nikki-- you can dictate the letters to your manslave, lol.

Mandy-- You did so much more than that for the chef place, I know. Um, tell me about the food again *drooling*

Kathryn-- Interesting. I've never "saw" anyone who'd done that. If you don't mind my asking...Did they have scripts like telemarkers use to answer questions? Did you have to qualify? Utterly fascinating.

Kristina--I could imagine. I've known people who've worked at medical waste plants. Now that job sounds like Hell.

Annmarie--You must have super patience to work with kids like that. I admire it. It's not anything I could do for more than a day.

Portia--Maybe they were waiting for you to start the naughtiness. LOL

And to the Nekkid Art Models---You go girls! The closest I got was sitting to have my face characterized at a theme park. ;)

Kate Pearce said...

First job, washing up in a pie and mash shop in the East end of London (great pie and 'licker' hilarious customers, too much washing up)
Main job-tax collector in East London (btw I'm not a cockney but I am an Essex girl and proud of it)
I got to meet the Kray Twins' accountant who was called Freddie.
next job-public inquiries for the Inland Revenue head office at somerset House-translation I got shouted at all day.
Next mortgage underwriter-boring

favorite jobs so far? mother and writer!!

Jenny said...

I saw that michelle was a CNA at a nursing home; I was an Activities Director at a local home. Yep, I was the party girl. My favorite party theme was when I set up a casino in the dining room and had some of the CNA's and housekeepers be the dealers and such. Me and the other activities girl were the bartenders and we set up a huge bar with blenders and bowls of fruit. We dressed in white shirts with ties and short black skirts and mixed virgin drinks and handed out near beer. Some of the ladies kept asking the administrator to 'drive them home' cause they were too drunk. It was a hoot!

My first job was a bus-girl at a fairly decent restaurant. I was cute and got tips of my own and the waitresses didn't like me. I then went to babysitting, then back to cafes only as a waitress this time. I worked on Mud Island in Memphis for a time and made some hellacious tips.

I've been a hairdresser (which sucked) a cashier, an advocate for battered women, and an administrator for non-profits. I've sold lingerie and sex toys and was a sample girl for Williams sausage at local supermarkets.

Now, I draw electrical schematics for emergency vehicles and take care of the company's small network. I do pc repair work here and there.

I've just started editing for Forbidden Publications and am working a weekend job at EZ-Mart to help through the holidays.

I started writing about 15 years ago and I cringe when I look back at some of the stuff I've written. EEEK!

Michelle M Pillow said...

Kate- does London still carry the thick cockney accent? Or have I been watching too much Charles Dickens turned movies again?

Jenny- LOL, sounds like you were a cool activity director. I never saw that where I worked. And I went to school for hairdressing because I thought it'd be fun and would compliment the portrait photography I wanted to do at that time, but didn't love it or do it. In fact, my day job offered me a raise and more power so I took that instead.

Michelle M Pillow said...

Should specify--I know not ALL London does, just meant that section of it. :)

kristina lloyd said...

Jenny - 'I was a sample girl for William's sausage'.

DO continue, please. We're all ears.

Nikki Magennis said...

Yes please. How was William's sausage?