Please welcome Susanna Kearsley, author of the new novel, The Shadowy Horses (check out our review here), as she talks about what she did before she became a published author!

by Susanna Kearsley

Thanks so much for inviting me back to Luxury Reading. The last time I was here (see guest post here), I talked about my background in museum work, and how that helped my writing. But museum work was not the only job I had before I first got published.

As much as I loved being a curator, I knew that I couldn’t keep working full time in museums if I really wanted to write. Although I was supported by a great assistant and amazing volunteers, a lot of the work spilled over into weekends and evenings and by the time I’d finished my first novel, writing mainly between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., I knew that something had to give.

I left the museum, moved home with my parents, and found a new job: as a waitress.

Waitressing makes a great job for a writer. For one thing, it’s a job you can leave at the office—no matter how hectic the work gets, you don’t bring it home with you. I could just walk out the door at the end of my shift and not worry about going back for a meeting, or having to spend the night planning events and activities.

Waiting tables made a nice physical balance, as well, to the time that I spent sitting still at my writing-desk. Working the Mother’s Day brunch shift is better than any routine at the gym, and I was never more fit in my life than in those years when I was waitressing.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to working as a waitress, for a writer, is the chance to study people, and to gain an eye for character. There’s a certain freedom working at a job that makes you virtually invisible to many of your customers, and although I didn’t actively eavesdrop on anyone I overheard a lot of conversations, witnessed everything from break-ups to reunions, and saw people act in unexpected ways, both good and bad.

On top of which, I learned to make a mean martini—and for writers, that’s a skill that’s never wasted!

Also by Susanna Kearsley: Mariana, The Rose Garden The Winter Sea