My name is Amelia Louise Ivery Hobbes. The Amelia was from my mother; she wanted me to have the spirit of Amelia Earhart. What I got was a hopelessly old-fashioned “Amelia Louise” with a last name that was always spelled Ivory on the first try.
I settled on Amy Ivery in college, which made for a short, snappy byline when I began a career in journalism.
I’d written under that name for a couple of years when Vincent Hobbes came along. A lot of women I knew kept their original names when they got married but I wanted to be part of my own family, so I became Amy Hobbes.
My first job in journalism was the cops beat. It’s a place where there’s always news and I loved it. It’s how I met Vinnie-the-cop. His family called him that; I took it up through osmosis.
I was learning the ropes, getting more and more story assignments when I got pregnant with Heather, our daughter. When I went back to work, Vinnie insisted that I take a different, less dangerous assignment, so I starting covering local politics. Safe as milk until a disgruntled city sanitation worker holed up in the mayor’s office as I was interviewing His Honor.
SWAT was called, no shots were fired, everybody walked away, but Vinnie was upset.
Vinnie was a good cop, a careful cop, but he let the hysteria of a high-speed chase get him involved in a gun battle. The bad guy—who’d killed two innocent kids in a drug deal gone bad, then taken off in a stolen car—was dead. But so was Vinnie.
My widow’s pension wasn’t enough to support us and I couldn’t just stay home and be a mom. Too many ghosts were in my head. I needed something big, something challenging, to keep them buried.
The San Fernando Valley Globe helped with this. I was back covering local politics and went to a local rally for a councilman. I was chatting with a campaign staffer when a good-looking man came up and joined us. The staffer’s eyebrows rose, but he introduced me anyway.
This Brandon guy was smooth. This Brandon guy was pretty. This Brandon guy was going to be dangerous. And I married him and moved to Monroe.
My life was on a different track than I’d planned, but it was secure and safe. Until the day Brandon came home and announced he’d taken a different job. It was in Chicago. Heather and I wouldn’t be joining him. He was moving with his pregnant girlfriend, a staffer in the Illinois legislature.
Now I’m the Managing Editor for the Monroe Press and end up solving a lot of things; my staff’s personal crises, AWOL reporters, managing a tiny and still-shrinking budget and the mystery of why people do things, including murder.
My days begin with a scan of two newspapers and CNN on TV while I drink coffee and eat a bagel. I’m in the office around 10 a.m. The day centers around finding those events that will translate into stories to keep the people of Monroe informed, entertained and knowledgeable about what’s happening around them. Two major meetings a day are the cornerstone: A first meeting about 11 a.m. with all the reporters to get a list (we call it a “budget”) of the stories they’re working on and the second one about 4 p.m. to nail down what stories are actually coming in—and what the gist of them is.
This is the meeting when we finalize which stories will be in the paper the next day and which page they’ll appear on—a consideration for those who want to be stars on Page One.
Much of the day is taken up with meetings. With the ad department to argue about the news space and with local politicians, the Chamber of Commerce, the Superintendent of Schools, letters to the editor writers and local people looking for stories about the biggest tomato, pinkest camellia, award-winning recipes and the Little League team that just won the championship.
All of this takes place against the constant drone of the police scanner sitting just outside my office door. It’s almost white noise, until I hear the cops reporter, Clarice, jump up, grab her purse, keys, cell phone and notebook and run out the door. It doesn’t always pan out, but these are the forays that net us some of our biggest stories—murder.
And after days of adrenaline and pressure, I’m happy to get home to my dog, Mac, a quiet house and maybe a phone call from Heather, who’s now a fifth year student at UC Santa Barbara. Or on a good night, from my friend Phil, the art critic at the San Francisco Times.
I’m still a little gun-shy after Brandon, but we seem to be developing more than just a friendship. Wonder where this is going?
You can read more about Amy in Labeled For Death, the second book in the “Amy Hobbes” mystery series. The first book in the series is Edited For Death. Books are available at online booksellers.
Meet the author
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
She writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries and the five-book Kandesky Vampire Chronicles paranormal romance series, and has just published her seventh book, a mystery titled Labeled for Death. She’s working on the sixth Kandesky Vampire book, SNAP: Happily Ever After? for publication in fall 2013.