- Guest Court Clerk
and Author -
and Author -
Today I welcome an author who has previously been on my blog, answering my Top 28 Questions - Sandra Farris. However, Sandra has kindly offered to give us an insight into her life as a US court clerk. Thanks, Sandra ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL JOURNEY.
My first marriage ended in divorce because of alcohol and physical abuse. I had three small children, no money, didn’t know how to drive, no job and only a high school education. I learned to drive, got a job, and with my parents help got a used car. The job was in a big box store, first as an optometrist’s assistant, then moved out in the store as a sales clerk when the optometrist laid me off (not enough patients to pay for help).
Through the years I worked in a produce warehouse in L.A., receptionist at an aircraft parts manufacturing plant, sold out of state land.
Second marriage failed and again no money, no job, cars repossessed because my husband didn’t know his spending limit. At least this time I didn’t have small children to support.
I signed up at the unemployment office, which sent me on an interview at Superior Court. I walked three miles to catch the bus until they moved the bus line closer to where I lived. It was really hot that summer in Arizona, more so walking alongside the pavement. I cussed every man I ever knew as I walked.
Ultimately I got a car again. I have been single twenty-one years and have accomplished so much more than I ever did while married. I might add, “happily single” to that.
I really had no trouble getting a job when I applied. I worked for the court system until I retired to work on my writing.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A COURT EMPLOYEE? WAS IT SOMETHING SPECIFIC?
To continue from above. . . When I went on the interview, the woman who interviewed me was the Court Administrator. We talked for over an hour and she hired me on the spot.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR WORK?
I enjoyed working with people, helping them. It gave me extreme pleasure and that good feeling you get when you do something nice for someone. I remember an elderly lady coming in for her arraignment (first court appearance to plead guilty, or not guilty) Usually you could do that at the front counter if it was a civil traffic matter. She was charged with a misdemeanor criminal case. She took an apple from the store without paying for it. She was so scared, she was shaking when she came to my window. “I don’t know why I did it”, she told me. I took her hand and told her it was going to be okay. We have nice judges. I talked to her for a little while and she had calmed down quite a bit before she went into the courtroom. She came back later but I was busy, she gave me a big smile and left. I guess things worked out for her.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT YOUR WORK?
Seeing the faces of the people who commit crimes you read about in the paper. A man appeared at my window with another person. He was there to find out where he needed to go to register as a sex offender. He let the other man ask the question while he tried to hide behind a plant on a shelf on my side of the window. I will never forget the look in his eyes. Very haunting and eerie.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE? BE SPECIFIC.
I’m not sure you would call my first job a sales clerk or not. I worked in a huge file room approving credit card purchases for J.W. Robinson Store in Los Angeles, California. I was a receptionist for an optometrist, and also a company that made fasteners. Moved from that to sales clerk in a big box store, worked in the billing department for a produce company, and then for an aerospace company that made airplane parts. Last, but not least, before I retired to write I worked for the court system seventeen years.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CHANGE DIRECTION?
At first I knew nothing about the court, having had no experience with it. I worked as salesperson mostly in the past. Once I started working for the court, I continued with it until I retired. It was always different with each person, officer, or attorney who appeared at my window. It was exciting, scary, sad, happy, every emotion you can think of. I did retire after 17 years to work on my writing.
I began writing as a hobby in my freshman year of high school and was encouraged by an English teacher. I looked on in as a hobby until my later years. Unfortunately it suffered through having children, supporting them and myself, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Survival. Next conquering cancer, then my three sons and my books and short stories I have published. Sorry, that’s more than you asked, but I suppose it all ties in with the first.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Three short stories and 2 novels, both sequels to previous novels.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My faith and the stories that keep popping into my head.
WHAT BOOKS DO YOU READ?
Mostly mysteries, but occasionally I will venture into another genre.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED SCHEDULE EVERY DAY? WHAT IS IT?
I answer e-mails, check out Face Book and other groups I belong to on line, how my book trailer is doing with viewers, do housework, or run errands in the morning and write in the afternoon. I can’t seem to get motivated to write until then, but I get all the other things out of the way that nag at me that I should be doing.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE? WHY?
A favorite book that I have written or someone else? My favorite book I have written is “Can You Hear the Music?” because it was the first book I ever wrote and I lived with those characters for a long time. I grew very fond of them. I’ve had nothing but good comments, such as this one:
“Grown men don't cry.
Oh yes they do cry. I did at a couple places in this book. I normally don't read this kind of story but a friend recommended it and the title grabbed me. You see, as an 81-year old great grandfather, I preach to my kids and grandkids that they should look for and find the positive side of things and not let themselves be governed by all the negative things around us. Our heroin finds the good in people as unlikely they may seem to be by all appearances and she puts her trust in them. The book held my interest throughout. It also brought memories of the stories told by my mother of a man who worked at a little printing company in Chicago every winter but was a hobo every summer riding the rails all over the country doing odd jobs to earn his keep and moving on when a job was completed. Mom knew him through her job at the same shop and although he was uneducated she said he was very wise ... just like 'Andy" in the book.”
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN YOUR WORK?
Creating. Creating characters, events, places, and then having people read and like the book.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR?
My family as a unit is my mentor.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
On my short story e-book, Hobo, a man posted that he “loved hoboes but not this one, it was awful.” The book wasn’t even about hoboes, but a feral dog with that name and a little boy who wanted to make him a family pet.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Yes, the little girl in, “Can You Hear the Music?” is a compilation of several children I met through the years. Most of all, a little boy in an orphanage in Dallas, Texas. My homemaking class drew names of children there and bought Christmas gifts that we took to their Christmas party. I had a 5-year-old boy’s name, and seeing those children coming down the stairs, knowing they had no family stuck with me through the years.
Also two little girls who lived next door years later whose parents were killed in a car accident and were living with a relative. They weren’t physically abused that I know of, but mentally, and also treated like dirt.
OTHER THAN YOUR WORK, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Movies, family get togethers, lunch with friends, reading a good book, hiking and travelling.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Get up feeling great, full of ideas and all day to write, or read a good book.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
An inventor, so he could devise a way to get off the island.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
Stop being greedy, and killing your people with all the wars. Learn to talk to one another.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Continue writing, learning and hopefully travelling.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE BOOKS?
“Can You Hear the Music?”, “Lady Ace”, “Obituary Column”, “Hobo”, and “Memory of a Murder”.
WHAT’S THE FUNNIEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?
I can’t think of anything right now, possibly because it may have been embarrassing and I probably wanted to forget it.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I think I’ve been long winded long enough. Get me talking and I get long-winded.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE MOST? WHY?
My mom. Her mother died when she was young and both she and her siblings had to live with grandparents. Her grandfather was a love, but her grandmother was really mean to them, although quite different with her own children.
My mom got married, raised five daughters while married to an alcoholic who was mean to her. She hung in there, made a loving home for my sisters and I. She didn’t divorce my dad, although she wanted to at times. She was from the old school that you married them and stayed with them through thick and thin. She deserved all the medals in the world.
Face Book Authorpage: https://www.facebook.com/authorsandrafarris
Link to the trailer for the movie based on my book, Obituary Column. They changed the name to The Treasure Within: http://treasurewithinmovie.com
The trailer for my award winning book trailer for Can You Hear the Music?: You tube: http://www.youtube.com/standquietAndListen