Monday, December 5, 2011

How I fulfilled my trashy fantasies

When I was five, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Waiting for the garbage truck with my kid brother.
Every Tuesday morning, I'd scramble to the big picture window at the front of the house and wait for that familiar rumble. I'd sit, mesmerized, as the garbage truck came lumbering down the street.

"Garbey-guck," my two-year-old brother would announce.

"Damn straight," I'd say (or something to that effect). "Someday, I'm going to drive one."

I'm 37 now, and I haven't entirely fulfilled my fantasy. But I've come close.

In the spring of 2008, I got laid off from a job as the director of marketing and franchise development for a chain of photo studios. I was thrilled.

Because it gave me the chance to combine my adult career fantasy of being a novelist, with my childhood career fantasy of working with trash. I remember the phone call I made shortly after my layoff. My words came out in an excited jumble, and the receptionist was so silent afterward that I thought she'd hung up on me.

"Let me get this straight," she said at last. "You want to come here to the Deschutes County Department of Solid Waste to do research for a mystery/romance novel."

"Yes!"

"Romance," she repeated. "And mystery. In a landfill?"

"Yes!"

There was another long pause, so I decided to press my luck. "Do you think there's any chance I could drive the compactor?"

I didn't get to drive the compactor, but I did get to sit in the cab and make growly noises, followed by the occasional beep-beep for backup effect. I can honestly say that doing research for Getting Dumped was some of the most fun I've ever had in my life.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, Getting Dumped is the secret project I've been hinting about for awhile now. The book is set to release this week, and here's a blurb:
Losing a cushy marketing job only to end up driving heavy equipment at the landfill would be a tough blow for most women.

But JJ Schultz isn’t most women, so she gamely swaps office politics and dry cleaning bills for a chance to crush garbage with a 150,000 pound machine. As it turns out, she doesn’t miss her old life too much…though her love life was sure a lot simpler when she didn’t wear a hardhat every day. Between her hot new co-workers and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, JJ has her hands full.

But the drama kicks into high gear when JJ and her sister, Lori, find evidence of a counterfeit handbag operation – something local police deem only slightly more urgent than collecting fruit flies. JJ soon finds herself unraveling a sinister plot in the company of a tie-tugging accountant, a straight-to-video action hero turned secretary, a suspicious but sneaky-hot engineer, and a host of other characters with questionable hygiene and morals.
Now here's the kicker – the book is being released as an "active fiction" title. Er, what does that mean? Well, it's a brand new kind of e-reading experience that allows the reader and author to interact with each other and the text in new and different ways.

Think grown-up, modern version of those choose-your-own adventure novels from childhood.

Intrigued? So was I when my agent called early last summer positively shrieking with excitement over this hot new opportunity. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and soon I was almost as excited about being one of the launch authors for Coliloquy as I was about driving the garbage truck.

I'll be able to share more details over the next couple days, but you can click that Coliloquy link to sign up for an alert when the launch titles go live this week.

For now, I'd love to hear more about what you wanted to be when you were young. Did it change when you got older? Have you ever had the chance to fulfill any childhood career fantasies? Please share!

I'll be sitting in the backhoe at the construction site down the street making growly noises. If you see me, don't interrupt.

24 comments :

Taymalin said...

I wanted to be a cowgirl. Unfortunately I live in the Canadian Maritimes,which are sadly lacking in cowboys and girls. When I was 11, I did get a job doing pony rides, so I did get to do a lot of riding myself, and even helped train a couple of ponies.

Now I live in the city, and my horseback riding opportunities are limited to trail rides on horses that just play follow the leader and don't really need a rider to guide them.

I also wanted to be an animal trainer for the movies. Or a vet. Or anything to do with animals.

Now I work with children.

Sarah W said...

I wanted to be an animal doctor, a librarian, Julie Andrews, a writer, and a sand-up comic.

I'm the one who feeds the cat, scoops his litter, and cleans up his messes; I am actually a librarian; I can carry a tune in a bucket, but not, for the sake of my friends and family, actually sing it; I write; and if I ever do manage to be funny, I'm probably sitting down.

So . . . two and a half out of five?

Mac said...

Great blurb

I'm ready to buy it.

LynnRush said...

Wow. That sounds awesome!!! Interactive book reading, huh? That's really cool.

What an exciting time for ya! Enjoy the journey, my friend. And your research.

Julie Glover said...

I was just going through mementos from my childhood with my sons this weekend. They found a drawing I had made in 3rd grade in which I drew a picture of a figure skater with the caption "What I Want to Be." My son said, "You should have done that." Never mind that I grew up in South Texas - more than a 4-hour drive from the nearest ice rink. Or that I was a puny little girl whose ankles would have cracked in week one of practice.

I'm glad I didn't do that. I'd much rather write about it than do it.

Congrats on the book! Looking forward to it.

The Sprouting Acorn said...

well, hell's bells. whoever would'a thunk. i love watching, through the blog, how you transform the everyday mundane into a fun read... i'd still like to know what the cat photo had to do with the clues in friday's post. lol

CON-TRASH-ULATIONS!!! :)

Skye said...

That sounds exciting! Not just the cool new book and concept, but the playing with big machinery. When I worked for Seattle's Solid Waste Dept the year they started with the curbside recycling, I had the opportunity to ride with one of the haulers who pulled the tips full of garbage from the transfer station to the landfill. Sure, I had to be out at where he started at 4 am ... and it was about an hour's drive from my home. But I was riding in this humongous truck! It's too bad they didn't let you operate the compactor. Maybe they will after your book goes live and you can prove to them that you need the marketing photos of this. :)

Woo hoo! More Fenske Fiction!!

Patricia Eimer said...

Congrats on the book and um on the garbage truck ride along?

Buffra said...

When I was 4, I went to my first circus. The elephant took a dump right in front of me and I was completely entranced with the clowns who cleaned up after that. THAT is what I wanted to do.

Fast forward 20-some years and I am visiting my college roommate, now a large-animal vet. I spend most of the time bouncing around in the cab of her truck and helping hold things. She gets a call from a circus. An elephant is having intestinal distress (yikes!), can she bring by some medicine in the proper dose? So she does. We wander the backlot of the circus a bit.

I didn't actually clean up after anything, but it was probably as close to my 4-year-old fantasy as I'd want to get!

Steph Schmidt said...

I wanted to be an airline stewardess so badly in the first grade, but only because they wore awesome outfits. Then I discovered you could wear heels anywhere and after that I just sort of enjoyed whenever I got to fly. Though I do enjoy the few air stewards who make the safety speech into a joke.

I signed up for Coliloquy but after reading that blurb I'm impatient as all hell for it to launch (never mind I lack an e-reader, mere details at this point).

Patrick Alan said...

I love this post!

"In the spring of 2008, I got laid"

"gave me the chance to combine my adult career"

"You want to come here"

"Damn straight"

"followed by the occasional beep-beep"

Kelly said...

I wanted to be a math teacher. Well that was until I worked at a daycare for 4 years. I am glad that I didn't become a teacher I might have killed a kid or two.
But I did stay in the math field. I am an accountant and own a Tax/Accounting firm. And I still want to kill my clients at times.

Thanks for sharing Tawna, Can't wait to read.

Kelly
Books-n-Kisses

Linda G. said...

I am SO looking forward to this! :)

Sierra Godfrey said...

Very interesting! I look forward to seeing how this works. Any chance you can outline what exactly actively interacting with you entails? Er...we ARE reading, right?

Deirdre Puff said...

When I was a kid I wanted to be a few things: Professional Cinderella, ruler of the world and some more realistic jobs like lawyer, fashion designer, novelist. Honestly. In CAPP class (grd 7) I put that down too. My teacher told me I couldnt. I just looked at her and told her someone had to run the world. She didn't argue.

To note I have only given the dream up on one of those job titles (including the less realistic) and that was Fashion Designer. I seriously hate sewing.

KD Easley said...

I wanted to be a bull-rider, a country music singer, an astronaut, and a racecar driver. Can you guess I was a tomboy? I fulfilled one of my dreams, it didn't have anything to do with rodeo, music or space travel. It was a blast, and worth every drop of sweat and blood it took to get there, but alas, it didn't last long enough.

Can't wait until your project goes live.

Congrats!

ellieannsoderstrom said...

What fun!
I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. Can't wait to read Getting Dumped. I'm SO interested in this new format.

Coleen Patrick said...

I remember wanting to be a writer even when i was a kid, and I imagined myself living in a NYC apartment with a cocker spaniel. Ha ha. Instead I went to school,got a degree in criminal justice, got married, had kids. Now years later, I'm finally living out my writer dream, only in a lovely house in VA--and an aquarium with fish.:)
Love your garbage truck story and look forward to hearing more about your project!

Tawna Fenske said...

Taymalin, I had lots of fantasies about working with animals, but gave that up when I realized it would require me to be around animals who are hurt, maimed, killed, or sad. Can't handle that at all!

Sarah W, I think you get extra points for the litter scooping.

Mac, I will let you know as soon as the link is live!

LynnRush, it's definitely a fun concept. I loooved choose-your-own-adventure stories as a kid!

Julie, love it! Ice skating in Texas sounds like a good career plan.

Sprouting Acorn, that's Blue Cat....in real life, he's my pet. In GETTING DUMPED, he's a character :)

Skye, it was enough just to get to crawl around on the compactor!

Patricia, thanks! Not quite sure which feat makes me more proud.

Buffra, that is an AWESOME story!!!

Steph, now's a good time to get an e-reader!

Patrick, I'm ashamed to admit I only caught one of those when I wrote the post. Good work, my friend.

Kelly, I see murder is high on your list of career perks. Maybe a job as a hit-woman would suit you?

Linda G, me, too!!!

Sierra, LOL, that is an EXCELLENT question! Let me check with the powers-that-be about what I am/am not allowed to reveal at this stage, and I'll get back to you!

Dierdre, Cinderella is a totally legitimate career option. I'm considering it myself.

KD, I always wondered why we don't see female bull-riders. You could totally do it!

ellieannsoderstrom, I'm super fired up about the new format. I think it'll be tons of fun!

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Jason said...

This sounds very, very cool. Looking forward to checking it out.

When I was little I wanted so very badly to be a baseball player. That was my dream, but in high school I figured out I couldn't hit a curveball.

Now I sit in an office and test software when I'm not at home sitting at the computer and writing. What would I really like to do? I don't know exactly, but something outside, something physical, something with less office. Or no office.

Preferably in Hawaii.

Brandi Guthrie said...

When I was little, I wanted to be a princess.

And I am (if only in my head).

Lisa Ahn said...

This sounds fantastic -- I can't wait to read. When I was younger, I wanted to be a ballet dancer. Unfortunately, I am as graceful as a grizzy bear. I've actually been known to fall out of my writing chair. Dancing really isn't in my future, but research about ballet -- hmmm. I wonder how tough those wall-length mirrors are?

C D Meetens said...

I wanted to be a vet, but when it came to it, I knew I'd never be able to put the animals to sleep - even if I knew that was the best thing for them.

I also wanted to dance, but didn't have the figure for it. It was fun having ballet lessons though.

Part of me has always wanted to write. I found a story I'd written when I was so young, my writing was barely legible. At least, I've remained consistent with that (the wanting to write, not the illegible handwriting, although...)

Kimberly Sabatini said...

Woo hoo!!! This sounds fabulous!!! Doesn't anyone else want a completely round picture window? What is wrong with you people????