JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know one of our absolute favorites is
Rachel Goldman writes mysteries in which Duffy Madison, consultant to the county prosecutor’s office, helps find missing persons. Rachel is busy finishing up her next book, when a man calls out of the blue asking for help in a missing persons case. The caller's name? Duffy Madison.
Is this real or has she lost her mind? She doesn't have much time to find out because a serial killer is on the loose, kidnapping and murdering mystery authors. And Rachel may just be the next target.
Of course, Copperman being
|(Photo by Cathy Cole of Kittling: Books)|
The recent post from Julia’s youngest (which I thought was touching and adorable and smart and insightful and other glowing adjectives I don’t often use) got me to thinking. I once interviewed my own youngest on the trials and tribulations of growing up with a midlist author and some of the answers surprised me. Julia’s and Youngest’s experience is different of course, but the idea of having a parent whose occupation is different resonated for me.
My mother was, until I was almost ready for college, what would now be called a stay-at-home mom. As a role model, this came in somewhat handy when I was the work-at-home dad (some people called me a stay-at-home dad or even worse, “Mr. Mom”), but my role model for work was my father, and he didn’t have that unusual a job at all.
My father owned a store that sold paint and wallpaper in Newark, NJ. He was out of the house in time to open the store at six in the morning and stayed there until six in the evening, and his only day off was Sunday.
He made sure that the hours he worked didn’t make my brother and me feel like he was a visitor. He was our dad the second he walked in that door and even though he had to go to sleep early for the next day, he made sure we were the center of his universe.
Occasionally one or the other of us (whichever, I’m sure, had been driving my mother crazy more that week) would be told he would be accompanying my father to his business that Saturday to “help in the store.” I don’t know about my brother, but I was definitely not that much help. Dad just liked to have us around and I loved seeing his world.
We’d get up at the crack of dawn (pretty much literally) and head down to my grandparents’ house, which happened to be next door, for breakfast. This was a treat since my grandparents were among the most loving and amiable people I knew, and even though they were always within walking distance, it was a rarity for one of the grandchildren to have them both to himself. Much attention was lavished.
Then it was off to Newark and West Market Street where the painters would gather in the early morning to stock up for the day’s work and mostly to hang around and joke with each other. I was too young to join in but the men (they were all men) would notice the little (and I mean that literally) boy in the room, clean up their acts and play to the audience. They made me feel like part of the club.
When the 1967 riots flared in Newark, my father went to his store because that’s what he did. But when he saw the violence headed in his direction he closed up and came home. The next day he found his store untouched on a block of devastation. Locals had taken bars of soap and written, “SOUL BROTHER” on the plate glass window at the front.
But the area was getting difficult for the business and the new University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey needed some space for a parking lot. My father sold the building and moved the store closer to where we lived. “Helping out in the store” became something I could walk to, so I did it after school.
One day when I was about 13 or 14 I was in the back of the building, probably having a soda, when a woman walked into the store. It wasn’t often we got walk-in business from “civilians” but in this case my father looked at me and said, “Go take care of her.”
I don’t remember anything about the transaction, but I thought it went okay. When the woman walked out again I returned to the “office” in the back (it was a desk and a chair). I didn’t say a word.
My father, the kindest and gentlest man I have ever met, looked at me and said, “Don’t ever go into retail.”
That didn’t have anything to do with WRITTEN OFF, the book of mine that is being published this week, in which a mystery author is confronted with a living version of her protagonist and pulled into a missing person investigation, but I just wanted to tell you about my dad.
After all, I’m a Youngest, myself.
JULIA: Dear Readers: did you learn about work from your dad? Your grandfather? Uncle Bob? Join us in the back-blog for conversation, and one lucky commentor will win a $50 gift certificate to one of
Copperman's favorite independent bookstores, Murder By The Book in
Houston, Texas. (Yes, they ship, so you don't have to live in the Lone
Star state to win!)
E.J.Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series and the co-author with Jeff Cohen of the Asperger’s Mystery series. On June 14 E.J. unveils the Mysterious Detective Mystery series in which a crime fiction author is confronted by the flesh-and-blood incarnation of her fictional sleuth. You can read more about E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen at their web sites; follow them on Twitter at @ejcop and @JeffCohenWriter; and friend them on Facebook. Copperman blogs at Sliced Bread, while Cohen can be found at Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room (a fabulous blog that's been around as long as the Jungle Reds!)