It is said that people write what they know. Based on my own personal experiences, I would venture to say this old adage is true. Jordan James, the main character of Cold Ambition, the first book in the Jordan James, PI series, did not appear out of thin air. She did not come to me in a prophetic dream. She came, instead, from life experiences.
I’ve often said that Jordan lives the life I might have led had my own life taken a different turn. I say this because there are many similarities between Jordan and myself. We’re both from New Orleans, love New England, are so fiercely independent that this trait has been, on occasion, mistaken for stubbornness (although I personally don’t see it), and dreamed, at one time, of becoming a private eye, thanks in large part to the ’80s hit show, Magnum, PI.
While there are many similarities between us, there are also many differences. These differences exist because Jordan James is not me. In fact, she is not even the same girl she was when I first began writing this novel. She is, in my opinion, far better.
As the story has progressed, she has transformed from a simple character on paper to a strong, independent woman determined to make it on her own while following a life-long dream. I look forward to readers getting to know Jordan as she begins this new journey, a journey filled with fun, excitement, and many, many new life experiences.
“COLD AMBITION” Excerpt
My name is Jordan James, and I am a twenty-four- year-old woman. I just wanted to get that straight from the beginning. I am well aware that Jordan is commonly a boy’s name, but for some reason my parents decided that a normal name like Melissa or Amanda would not suit me. Regardless, my name has not caused me any trouble since an unfortunate teasing incident in the third grade. In fact, it has been quite useful in my line of work. But again, I digress.
I’m originally from a suburb of New Orleans but moved to the Northeast to attend Brown University. I spent four fabulous years in Providence and graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in psychology. Like most bright- eyed, eager graduates, I assumed jobs would be thrown at me as soon as I was handed my diploma. I assumed that I could take my pick. The world was my oyster. To make a long story short, my ideas and reality did not match. After several frustrating months of searching, I decided to move to Boston. I thought this city would provide me with all of the wonderful opportunities I had been unable to find in Providence. When it didn’t, I settled and took a job as a waitress at a small Italian restaurant along the Freedom Trail near the Old North Church to make ends meet. It wasn’t a bad job; the tips were good, and the owners were wonderful. In fact, they became quasi-parents to me when I didn’t know anyone else in Boston, but I wasn’t satisfied. This job wasn’t what I had spent four grueling years studying for.
After work each evening, I went home to my one- bedroom apartment on Sewall Avenue, counted my tips, and then spent many hours searching online for different career opportunities that might be available to someone with my credentials. Unfortunately, I had already looked into most of them and during an economic crisis, good jobs can be hard to attain. I started saving religiously and continued the search for my dream job.
After I saved up a decent amount of money and recruited the reluctant help of my parents, I decided to go into business for myself. What career did I decide on? What job could possibly stimulate me intellectually and help me provide for myself in a manner that I could finally be on my own, both physically and fiscally? Private investigation. Yes, I decided to set up shop as a P.I. Now, one might wonder, what could have possibly led me to believe that I could make it as a P.I.? Another valid question is: why did I want to become one in the first place? The answer to both questions can be summed up in one word: Magnum. I grew up watching re-runs of the classic 1980’s show and was enthralled by both his career and his lifestyle. It was exciting and thrilling. He lived in Hawaii, drove a Ferrari that he didn’t own, and lived on an expansive oceanfront estate free of charge. Who wouldn’t want a life like that? With the black belt in Tae Kwon Do that I had earned in college, I felt more than prepared to take on a potentially dangerous job. However, even with my black belt and my education, my choice of career received less than enthusiastic responses.
“No one is going to hire a woman to investigate anything,” my father stated when I called him with the news.
“Oh, that is such a dangerous job. You could be killed! What’s wrong with the restaurant? In fact, what’s wrong with moving back home?” my mother inquired. I must admit I shuddered at the thought.
“A private eye? Good luck with that one,” scoffed my older sister, Alicia, the pediatric neurosurgeon. She had graduated from an in-state university and set up her practice within thirty miles of my parents’ residence. She was always the good one.
Despite the negative feedback, I decided to forge my new life in the home of our country’s forefathers, where liberty was conceived and it was decided that freedom was considered worth dying for. Unfortunately, the cost of living had gone up substantially since Paul Revere had galloped into history with his famous midnight ride. Finding a reasonable apartment in an area that didn’t have the police on speed dial was difficult. Finding an office that didn’t put my unborn children into debt would be a miracle.
I learned, however, that perseverance pays off. My landlord owned an office building near Fenway Park with a tiny, unrentable office. It was smaller than all of the other offices in the building and, therefore, considered undesirable. I investigated this situation and found out that my landlord had been unable to rent it for over a year and a half. This was the perfect opportunity for me to put that minor in communications to work. Although it took nearly a month, I was able to logically convince Mr. Chambers that if he were to rent the office to me at five-eighths the normal price for six months, it would be beneficial to us both. Eventually, he saw it my way. He says it was actually because I nearly drove him to jump into the Charles River because of my incessant nagging. I like to believe it was due to my keen negotiating skills.
So, on November 3, nearly a year and a half after graduating, I unlocked the door to my office, turned on the light, and smiled at the black letters freshly inked to the opaque glass in my door—Jordan James, P.I. Now all that I needed were clients. As fate would have it, someone was looking for a P.I., someone whose case would affect not only my career but my very existence.