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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on September 14th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 28

Author Erin Huss shares her new book 'For Rent'

By JOE PAYNE

Some jobs are thankless by nature. That’s what Orcutt native Erin Huss found out when she began working in apartment management years ago. 

Huss’ experiences weren’t all negative though; she said some were funny. This led to a successful blog that Huss has run for eight years, and now, the second book in her Apartment Manager series. 


TRUTH IN FICTION
Erin Huss pulled on her own life experience in apartment management when writing the fictional novel 'For Rent,' which is part of her Apartment Manager series.
IMAGE COURTESY OF ERIN HUSS

The industry is ripe for conflict and humor, Huss said. This comes from the unique nature of the work, she explained, which includes approaching people for a variety of reasons at their front doors, and the challenges of living where you work.

“We’re all varying degrees of crazy—that’s the first line of the first book—but when we’re out in public we hide the crazy and try and conform to what society deems as appropriate behavior,” Huss said. “But when we’re home, we kind of let the front go, lift the veil, and kind of let the crazy out. And when you’re working at people’s homes, you’re kind of dealing with that side of them.”

The latest book in The Apartment Manager series is For Rent, which is a fictional novel about a property manager named Cambria Clyne. Readers first met Clyne in For Hire, a shorter novella that tells how the character first entered the apartment management field.

In For Rent, the new full-length novel that Huss will show and sign at the Santa Maria Town Center on Sept. 16, Cambria Clyne lands a job at a large Los Angeles apartment complex. What at first seems like a dream job immediately becomes convoluted after a wave of crime hits.


COMING BACK HOME
Erin Huss grew up in Orcutt and now lives in Oxnard. She returns to the Santa Maria Valley to share and sign her book on Sept. 16.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIN HUSS

Huss pulled on her own life experiences to help color her fictional narrative, from mysterious crimes to embarrassing moments at tenants’ front doors.

“A lot of things she dealt with, I dealt with, like when she finds all these incriminating things in the dumpster when she is taking out the trash,” Huss said. “That is something that happened to me. I actually climbed into a dumpster and called the police, because in there was a backpack with a bunch of empty wallets.”

“They always say, if you really want to get to know someone, you read their fiction,” she continued. “I can definitely say, these are fictional characters and I took some creative freedom, but this is really based on my time as a property manager.”

There is plenty in For Rent that bears no resemblance to her time in the industry though, Huss said. The love interest in the novel is a hunky maintenance man, she explained, but Huss was already happily married with kids. Clyne also has to “babysit” the complex owner’s son, who’s actually an adult, and referred to in the book as a “manboy.” That didn’t really happen either, Huss said. 

And the mysterious nature of the crimes that plague the complex, and how they happened when Clyne eventually gets to the bottom of things, are imagined as well. But the events aren’t inconceivable, which is part of telling a story that is fun, but relatable and down to earth, Huss explained.

Meet the author
A book signing author event includes Erin Huss signing copies of her new book For Rent on Sept. 16 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Santa Maria Town Center, just outside of Edwards Theater, at 371 Town Center East, Santa Maria. There will be a raffle, refreshments, books, and a talk. More info: 260-6099 or michelektc@hotmail.com.

“I personally love this genre, because I’m one of the few people who doesn’t like wizards or dragons. I’m not a fantasy world type of person,” she said. “What I find funny are things that I can relate to. That’s what I like to read, so that’s what I like to write.”

Huss lives in Oxnard now but will make the drive to Santa Maria to share and sign the new book in her hometown. Huss said the Central Coast is where her “roots” are, and she is excited to see some familiar faces and share her work with them. 

“I grew up there, it’s such a great community, and all the people I love are still there,” she said. “I really wanted to come back and share it with the people who helped shape me and who taught me.”  

Arts Editor Joe Payne sees his landlords in a whole new light. Contact him at jpayne@santamariasun.com.




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