A word from Germaine Johnson, star of The Helpline by SJV
Jack convinced me to play a game of one-on-one (basketball) during our lunch break at the local park. I’d never played before but I beat him. It was a very convincing win. Some people might have said he was at a disadvantage, having recently had knee surgery, but that was at least four weeks prior and I do not believe it was a factor.
In the aftermath of victory what I should have done was a) never played him again and b) found a way to write about it in an internationally distributed newsletter. But of course, the next day when he hobbled over, ball in hand and said, ‘We should do that again,’ I had an over-confidence in my ability.
Twenty-minutes in, the score was sixteen-two in his favour. I was just about to make an impressive comeback when out of nowhere he tripped me over, intentionally and on purpose. I gashed my knee, blood spurted everywhere and we had to go back.
I stayed at work but I couldn’t answer the phones or look on the computer or read reports or anything. I lay across two chairs with an ice pack on my leg, updating them on the pain periodically. Francine said, ‘Maybe you should go home?’ but I didn’t want to do that. Employee of the Month nominations were right around the corner. ‘It’s okay,’ I said in a weak voice. ‘You guys need me… And the pain is only at a seven now.’
Fingers crossed I win,Regards,
Senior mathematician & star of The Helpline
Witty, big-hearted and hugely enjoyable, The Helpline is what you might get if you crossed The Rosie Project with Parks and Recreation. If you have ever wrestled with the world of office politics, this charming debut novel is for you.
Office life can be a minefield …
Germaine Johnson likes suduko, biscuits, maths and Chinese food. She’s less sure about the complexities of social interaction and her tendency to just say what she thinks often lands her in hot water. Unfortunately, after ‘the incident’ at Wallace Insurance, she finds herself unemployed.
When her cousin suggests a job at the local council, manning the Senior Citizens Helpline, Germaine really doesn’t have any other option than to say yes. It’s still social interaction, but at a safe distance. However, it turns out Mayor Verity Bainbridge has something more interesting in mind for her. A secret project to stop ‘the troublemakers’ at the senior citizens centre and their feud with the golf club next door. Germaine believes she is the no-nonsense woman for the job – until when she’s forced to get to know the troublemakers and things get more complicated.
About the author
Katherine Collette is a writer and environmental engineer who works exclusively on sewerage systems. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children. She was inspired to write her debut novel, The Helpline, after meeting the despotic president of a senior citizens centre. This obnoxious 85-year-old was furious at a Chinese group for playing mah-jong in the bingo room and threw out a cake plate belonging to the Miniature Train Society because she was angry with them. The council, feeling she had to go, arranged a sort of coup and had her replaced. Katherine loved that the same things that play out on the world stage—power, ambition, politics—were playing out at this level.