Thursday, May 07, 2009

Commitments, Customers, and Characters

by Paula Matter

Now that I'm an official Working Stiff and will be posting every other Thursday, I've begun thinking: How in the world will I come up with something to write twice a month? Something worth reading anyway.

I now have a deadline and have committed myself to doing this. And since, quite frankly, I'm frightened of Annette and Joyce, I'd better come up with something. (They both know I kid).

Working Stiffs?

Okay. I work. In the mornings I'm stiff. Who the hell (am I allowed to swear here?) am I kidding? I get stiff a lot faster and more often nowadays. I have a job where I'm allowed frequent breaks due to a physical condition. I don't because I'm more stiff upon standing. It's easier to just get through the day and pay for it later.

So that covers the Stiff part. What about the Working part?

I work in the catering department of a local college. Y'know those waiters and waitresses dressed up like penguins in their black and white outfits at banquets? That's what I do.

I've been in the food and beverage industry (that sounds much better than I've been a waitress slash bartender) for over thirty years. I've come in contact with a lot of people (customers, cooks, managers, chefs, hostesses) during this time. Most of been great.

The others wind up in my stories. Not always as victims. Sometimes they're the villains. After a bad night, they might be both.

How about you? Where do your characters come from? Has a reader ever thought s/he was in your story or novel?


Annette said...

Paula, hell yes, you're allowed to swear around here. I know better than to have asked you to join Working Stiffs otherwise. Heh.

Funny...I was just talking yesterday about snuffing someone who has been giving me grief (don't try to figure out who...this person doesn't read this blog) and of course I meant I was going to snuff them IN MY NEXT BOOK. But it occurred to me that the people sitting at the next table in the coffee shop might not know that.

I guess no one called the cops. I'm still here.

Joyce said...

Funny, Paula. And you should be afraid.

Annette, it might be because your township PD is a little understaffed right now...

Annette said...

Joyce, this discussion didn't take place in my township, so that wasn't the reason.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I did use people from my past in my first novel. I have a character from the oil fields named James "Dallas" Wheeler. He is an amalgmation of the guys I worked with in the field with the Natural Gas Company I worked for. I worked with a team of great guys while I cleaned up PCBs from 13 compressor stations. I spent three long summers with that group. Since we traveled around the country, we spent long stints together.

Throughout the book, Dallas quickly became my favorite characters. I think because I had such a broad range of personalities to draw from.

Jennie Bentley said...

I've got - fingers crossed - a book coming out next year in which I kill off a local lady who, oh so much deserves it!

Hell, yeah!

(But because she'd sue me if she found out, literally, I've had to change her around enough that she's not immediately recognizable. Still, everyone I know knows who she is.)

lisa curry said...

Wil, I went to high school with a kid named Dallas Wheeler. I've gotta read your book!