Those In-Between Jobs…. by Robyn Grady

by Robyn Grady, author of Fired Waitress: Hired Mistress (Harlequin Presents Extra, September 2010)

I’ve been lucky on the vocation front. For sixteen years I was employed behind the scenes in television – great fun! Then, four years ago, I landed my absolute dream job…writing fulltime for Mills & Boon and Silhouette, creating new ways for two strong-minded deserving people – who can’t possibly make it together – reach their happily-ever-afters. Some days I could pull out my hair wondering where the story should go next. Many more nights, however, I keep my laptop company into the early hours because the characters have taken over the plot. Needless to say, every minute I write romance, I’m living in my own private heaven.

But scoring my dream job took some doing. To begin with, there were the seven long years of writing, honing, submitting, waiting, before I nailed that first contract. And prior to the TV gig, I held down some definite “what am I doing here?!?!?” jobs. I yanked ignition cords on mini sport cars at an amusement park for a week. Excellent for building the deltoids and going glassy eyed from boredom. There was the grating-carrots-and-mopping-floors-in-the-hospital-cafeteria stint. If I got to flip a burger or work the cash register, it was a good day. I was even employed as a P.A. by a Greek multi-millionaire property developer. Seriously. Unfortunately he was a short, compulsive obsessive sixty-five-year-old ex dentist who gave me a mile-long office with pretty much nothing to do. Made yanking car cords day in and day out look exciting!

I’m not ungrateful. Far from it. The point of each in-between job was doing something until something better came along.

That’s the situation in which Nina Petrelle, the heroine from my Presents Extra September release Fired Waitress: Hired Mistress, finds herself. Nina is bright, hardworking and recently retrenched, but rather than sitting around, blaming the world, she pulls up her sleeves and decides to earn a crust any way she can. Surely a cloud with her silver lining will soon blow her way.

Fired Waitress: Hired Mistress opens with my heroine, a one-time heiress, dying to escape the endless tiring hours that go with serving the demanding mega-rich on an exotic island resort. When Nina takes a long reviving walk along an abandoned stretch of beach, however, her tedious existence is suddenly turned on its head. Her leg becomes trapped when she tries to jump a log and the incoming tide is rushing in at an alarming pace. Nina is convinced that any luck she might once have enjoyed has abandoned her forever. Until…

A second before passing out, she spots high on a nearby cliff her guardian angel, complete with wings and a dynamite set of shoulders. Nina can’t know that her situation is about to get way more complicated – in the most provocative, sizzling way!

Some other Presents Extra gals offered to share their not-so-terrific past job experiences:

Ann Oliver stood in a stinking-hot shed slicing the pits from apricots from 7am to 6pm for a weekly wage of $25.

Anna Cleary delivered 50 kilo bags of mulch into nursery patrons’ car boots. (No Harlequin heroes in that neck of the woods!)

Nicola Marsh spent endless hours each day in a dark room choking on noxious fumes.

And perhaps the bravest in-between job (although by far the highest paid!) goes to Ally Blake who, for a whopping fifty dollars per hour, during those lean university years, offered herself up for medical experiments!

Fess up. What have you done to earn a crust in-between?

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Comments ( 7 )
  1. Heidi Rice
    September 22, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Great post Robbie, and love the sound of your heroine (and her super-buff guardian angel)…

    Some of my in-between jobs.

    Writing film questions for a TV quiz show

    Doing a stint as a continuity girl on a tiny indie film in Houston, Texas called Last Night at the Alamo (look it up on IMDB, it actually exists)!

    Cataloguing Dennis Hoppers photos at a modern art museum one summer in Houston again (there were some stunning pics of Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke).

    And by far the most glamourous, working as a check-out girl in a Chemist shop in Shepherds Bush Precinct (which was as naff as it sounds).

    Wow, those were the days.

    Heidi x

  2. anna cleary
    September 22, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Oh Robbie. That angel looks –he looks–Well, what can I say! Angels have certainly improved!

    Fired Waitress book is going on my order today!

    And Heidi, thinking about your career profile, I suspect you were cut out for show biz, hon. Fate seems continually to draw you in that fascinating direction. Leap right in, I say.

  3. Michelle Willingham
    September 22, 2010 at 11:48 am

    My least glamorous job was emptying the trash cans in my college dormitory and keeping track of maintenance records.

    My sounds-better-than-it-was job was working for a German count in a castle, as his secretary. 🙂

  4. Christina Hollis
    September 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I worked in a laundry for stupid hours and no money at all, because my mum was the boss and I was afraid of her. If there’s a dirtier job, I don’t want to know.
    Ick (continued, P. 94)

    OTOH, I dated someone else’s real-life Presents hero for a while. That was fun 😉
    Marrying my own has been even more enjoyable 🙂

  5. Kate Hardy
    September 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Great post, Robbie! My in-between jobs included being a grain tester (barley, wheat and oilseed rape); a barmaid (how I met my husband – and his first words to me were indeed “Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps, please, love”!); working in a greengrocer’s shop (you would not believe how COLD it was in the winter!); and various temp jobs, the only one of which was glam was in a radio production studio. (They did offer me a full-time job, but it was a lot less than the salary I was going to get when I started my proper “post-uni” job… and I was about to get a mortgage!)

  6. Natalie Anderson
    September 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Robbie – I loved Fired Waitress – oh to work on an island like that! As for that guardian angel…yum!
    I was pretty lucky with my student jobs (working in the University Music and Fine Arts collection, covering all the beautiful art books) – and the jobs since. Probably the one that sounds most ‘interesting’ for being a filler job was as a ‘mystery shopper’ – but honestly, it wasn’t very glam at all and I couldn’t actually purchase any of the fab products which was very disappointing, it was all about assessing the service…

  7. Kimberly Lang
    September 23, 2010 at 8:53 am

    As an English major, I had a long career in the food service industry and the day I turned in my apron for good was a happy one. (I know many people who love waiting tables; I am not one of them. But then, I’m grumpy and snarky and get irritated at people. Jobs were I have to work with the public just aren’t my thing.)

    I sold perfume for a while. Which was really bad because my Geek has terrible allergies and asthma. I had to shower as soon as I came home — and keep my clothes in a plastic bin until I could wash them. I definitely wasn’t worth it!