Take it away, Anson!!!!
When writing, one of the fun things you get to develop about your character is their occupation. Many of us resent the idea of being defined solely by our profession, but our jobs do say something about us, as well as the characters we develop and choose to read about.
While going through my list of books for an upcoming conference, I noticed how many of my heroines have jobs outside the norm. Careers that fit them, but also interest me.
In my new book Spark of Doubt, Jasmine Hinkley is a welder, working in a plant that manufactures generators. Maybe I gave her this job because, I too, have a certificate in welding, or it could be I was having flashbacks to Flashdance. More likely, I wanted her to seem strong, when she didn’t feel she was. I wanted her to seem successful at a tough job, when really she was not being challenged. And, I wanted her to face the fear of going from something she was comfortable with to moving on to a completely different field in order to find happiness.
In one of my other books, I have Dani Thomas who races motorcycles. I have a motorcycle and like to pretend I’m racing a good bit of the time, until my husband gives me the stern, knock-it-off look. In Dani’s case, she was dealing with demons that made her not care if something was dangerous.
My other heroines earn a living in a variety of different ways; from farmers, scientists and wedding planners, to teachers, music producers and a chef. I have leading ladies from the NYPD, CIA, DEA and the FBI. I even have a professional thief. Each career I’ve chosen for a character, works to sharpen their personality and tell the reader something about them that they might not know themselves.
Writing gives me the ability to experience more exciting occupations. I have the opportunity to research what it takes to be a farmer or a police detective, all from the comfort of my cushy accounting job.
Jasmine has been able to move things with her mind ever since she was nearly electrocuted at the age of sixteen and has kept her talent hidden from her friends and family for nearly ten years.
When she discovers her boss, Marcus Weller, has the same ability, she decides to share her secret with the man she has had a crush on for years. As they experiment with the boundaries of their abilities, other boundaries start to shift and romance sparks.
Though Marcus has just gotten through a trying divorce, he seems determined to start a serious relationship with a reluctant Jasmine. Unable to keep him at bay any longer, she finally concedes to his proposal, but when Jasmine suddenly loses her powers, she wonders if he’ll lose interest when she’s no longer special.
“I’m Jasmine Hinkley. I wanted to speak to Mr. Weller about sponsoring our race car this year. Is he in?”
“Let me see if he’s available.” She answered a different question. She picked up her phone and waited for a moment.
“There is an employee here who wants to speak with you about sponsoring a race car?” She nodded, which was a good sign. “You can go right in, dear. He has a minute.” Translation: don’t take too long. Got it.
“Thanks.” I headed toward the door into Mr. Weller’s office.
He had a sitting area right inside the door. Two leather sofas faced one another, with a matching chair in between. There was a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. I didn’t remember that from last year when I came up to ask for money.
Along the left wall was a table full of food. It looked like the remnants of a breakfast meeting. There was a scattering of doughnuts, bagels, and fruit along with an industrial coffeepot.
Mr. Weller—Marcus, as I called him in my dreams—was sitting at his desk looking down at a pile of papers. He was wearing a tan golf shirt with the company logo on the chest.
His dark blond hair hadn’t begun to lighten from the sun yet. In another month there would be streaks starting. He looked up at me with those deep, dark eyes and though I had braced myself, my breath still caught for a moment. Then he smiled to greet me.
The dimples, the perfect teeth. It was too much. I looked down at the paper in my hands.
“Hello, Mr. Weller. I was wondering if you would be interested in sponsoring our race car again this year?” I looked up at him again.
“Sure!” He gestured toward the paper in my hand, and I walked closer to his desk and handed it to him. We were about three feet away from one another. He was a god. I sighed as he signed the paper. “Take it over to accounting and have them cut you a check. When’s the first race?” he asked sounding interested.
“Sunday. You should come if you get the chance,” I said, knowing he would never have the chance.
“I always say I’m going to go and then I never do. Maybe this year I will,” he said with an edge of sadness in his voice.
Mr. Weller has been separated from his wife, “Duchess Weller” as I referred to her, for eight months. Her real name was Staci. With an i. Please!
“You’re welcome to come. You can even sit in the pits if you’d like. You just bought yourself an all-access pass.” I smiled as I held up the paper. Please don’t let him think I meant me! I worried internally. “Thanks, again!” I waved and headed for the door.
“Hope we win!” he said as I closed the door behind me.
I only got three steps from the door when I remembered the damn picture in my pocket. I pulled it out and opened the door quickly and walked back in.
Mr. Weller was still at his desk, his face in shock as a doughnut hovered in the air midway between the table and his desk.
I gaped at the doughnut and then at him as the pastry fell to the floor. His face was tense. He was waiting for me to say something or scream or pass out. I did none of those things.
For a fraction of a second, I worried I had done this, but after a quick examination I realized I hadn’t. Marcus had done it with his own power. I could feel a slight buzz coming from him as I walked back toward his desk.
When I reached the doughnut, I picked it up and tossed it into the trash can, and then I took the last few steps to stand in front of his desk again.
Tons of questions were spinning through my head, but I kept my face calm. I looked up and met his horror-filled eyes. I smiled compassionately and held out the photo. “I forgot to give you the photo of last year’s car,” I said quietly and turned to leave.
I had never met anyone with the same ability as me. Of course, it wasn’t like I had been searching. I knew how alone I felt not having anyone to share what happened to me. Maybe this just started happening to him. Maybe he was scared like I had been when I was sixteen.
I stopped before going out the door again. I turned and smiled at him.
“It’s probably for the best that it fell on the floor. They’re not good for you anyway,” I said with a grin. Then I used my power and moved an apple over to his desk and placed it in front of him. I had never shared this with anyone. It felt strange but also a little freeing.
He gasped and looked up at me as I fled out into the other office and down the hall.
I hadn’t made it to accounting before he had caught up to me.
“Hey! Wait a second!” he yelled. I stopped and waited as I was told. “What is your name?” he asked as he looked down at the name patch on my overalls that said “Jaz.”
“Jasmine Hinkley,” I answered.
“Would you…? Could we talk? Maybe we could go to J.D.’s for coffee this evening. I’ve never met anyone else who…” He nodded but didn’t finish the sentence. He didn’t need to.
“Okay,” I answered feeling butterflies in my stomach.
Anson Barber grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southern Pennsylvania and now lives near Hershey, Pennsylvania with her husband. She enjoys going on long motorcycle adventures, and recording the experiences in scrapbooks.