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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Widdowson

Author Anthropology: Part 1

Updated: Mar 25

library shelves with arched window

I was recently asked to give a presentation about my first book, The RH Factor, to a singles’ group whose members live in my community—a bit of author anthropology, if you will. Most of the attendees had not read the book yet, so I didn’t want to give anything away. Instead, I focused on telling them a little about my background and how I came to write the book in the first place. I thought my blog readers might enjoy learning about these things as well.


When I was a child, I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I loved to read. Whenever I went to the library, I came back with not one or two books—I came back with a stack of them! I couldn’t get enough. I guess I was what some people would call a book nerd. Books took me into another world. Two of my childhood favorites were Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and Call of the Wild by Jack London. I also loved reading fairy tales from Aesop’s Fables and Grimm’s Fairytales.


As I got a little older, I got hooked on sci-fi. Dune by Frank Herbert, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton didn’t just take me out of my world, they took me to entirely new ones.


I was exposed to medical thrillers with Robin Cook’s first book, Coma, and was thrilled when they made a movie out of it. In my teens and early twenties, anything with vampires or witches in it would find its way onto my to-be-read list. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice, is still one of my favorite books, and the movie version was great as well. Then I moved to straight-up murder mysteries, and I still devour them now. Karin Slaughter's Will Trent series is one I look forward to with every new release. I also still read sci-fi every now and then, and the Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries books are fantastic.


But I love good books regardless of the genre and often even include non-fiction and humor in my reading list.


Throughout all my school years, I not only was a voracious reader, I also wrote. I wrote poetry, short stories, and songs, which I sang while I played my guitar. Besides reading and writing, I also had a passion for music and was in the choir and played the oboe during most of my junior and high school years. I wanted to learn to play piano, but my father simply couldn't afford to buy one.


When I was in my sophomore year of high school, I thought I had my future planned out. My goal was to become an orchestra director, preferably at the university level, and teach oboe lessons on the side. However, those aspirations were squashed when my father moved the family from Mesquite, Texas (which was turning into a bona fide suburb of Dallas) to a tiny town called Coldspring next to the Big Thicket and about sixty miles northeast of Houston. Coldspring had a population of just over 500 at the time. Their tiny school didn’t have an orchestra—they had a small band. And they didn’t have an oboe. Oboes are expensive instruments, and it was clear that I would not be getting one.


So, my plans shifted.


I graduated high school with really no direction in mind other than knowing my original thoughts about my career were not going to happen. My very first job was as a bank runner. I’m absolutely positive that this job no longer exists. Imagine, if you will, an eighteen-year-old girl, who is five-feet tall and weighs ninety pounds, carrying thousands of cash dollars from one bank to another. That was my job. No guard. No armored truck. Just me, walking the streets of downtown Dallas transporting cash from one bank to another!


I floundered around for a couple of years until I went to work for an insurance company and got exposed to computers. My curiosity was peaked! You might find it interesting and, of course, I’m revealing my age, to know that when I first learned about computers, programs were created by punching holes into thin cardboard cards called punched cards. Card readers then fed them into computers that were as big as refrigerators. Needless to say, it was a different world.


Now I had a plan. I quit the insurance company and went to work for Texas Instruments in Dallas which, at that time, paid for your college courses if you studied something that would benefit them when you graduated. Perfect! I worked third shift (11pm - 7am) and went to school during the day until I completed my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. I then left Texas and moved to Orlando, Florida where I worked for AT&T doing programming for their mainframe systems. During my time there, AT&T bought NCR, which bought Teradata—it was complicated!


I lived in Florida for six years, and during that time, I kept my musical interests alive. I bought myself a piano and started taking lessons. I also continued to sing, mostly in church choirs, even though I am not a religious person. Churches are simply the easiest avenues to find choirs to sing with. My best friend at work called me a 'born-again musician’. I also tried out for and was accepted into the Camerata choir. This group provided the background singers for the Orlando Opera. So, not only did I get to sing—I got to sing opera! And, I got to dress up and act as well. And they paid me! I was officially a professional singer, and I loved it! 


I met my future husband in Orlando, and after six years, we moved to Texas when he accepted a job opportunity that was too good to turn down. I went with him back to the Dallas area, kicking and screaming. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Texas. How could I? It's the state where I was born. But it is hot! And I do not love the heat. Yes, I know. You’re thinking—but you moved to Florida! Yes, I did. And I didn’t like the heat there either! If you’ve never met me, I am very pale. I survived Texas and Florida by slathering myself with sunscreen every day. But I loved him. So I followed him back anyway and was able to transfer to another job within AT&T doing sales and training for their networking solutions.


Seven years later, another opportunity came up for my husband, and we moved to Morgan Hill, California—a mid-sized town about twenty miles south of San Jose. Again, I transferred jobs at AT&T, and was now working on the support of large database systems with the Teradata division. Without boring you with my entire work history, I’ll keep the rest simple, and tell you while I was in California, I switched from support to sales until I quit and switched gears to a new profession.


Want to find out what I did next? What got me to the point of writing again and allowed me to complete my first novel, The RH Factor? Tune in next week for the second part of this blog and the continuation of my life saga!


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Unknown member
Mar 08

Love learning more about your journey!!

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