Late-night clogged toilet inspires local to pen book

By K. Q. THOMAS, Four Points News

Abby Ross with her husband Denis Toth and their children Felix and Heller and cat.

No matter where technology will take us and how it might change the job market, we will always need a system that brings water into our homes and moves waste out. There will always be a job for a plumber.

Abby Ross, a newcomer to Steiner Ranch, had a late-night clogged toilet, which led to an emergency encounter with one of those valuable plumbers. That unplanned meetup spurred her to write her first book, “The Poop Diaries”. 

A hilarious read, “The Poop Diaries” features first-person narratives from ten plumbers in the United States and Canada. Imagine a female plumber being mistaken for a stripper in a sexy plumber costume. Or the ghost of Al Capone causing plumbing problems. Or the oddities people store in their bathroom cabinets. The book, available from Amazon, was published by Black Rose Writing.

“On a Wednesday evening, our toilet clogged,” Ross said. “I could not go to sleep without a working toilet, so I called a plumber, Jon. He fixed our toilet in 15 minutes, but he didn’t seem like he wanted to leave. 

“He leaned against our kitchen counter, chatting away. I asked him to share his five greatest hit plumbing stories. What came out of his mouth was so hilarious I knew right then and there I had to write a book about him.”

Ross spent the next two months interviewing Jon and capturing his stories.Then she decided to expand the book and interviewed a total of eight male and two female plumbers. About halfway through the process, she began pitching the book to publishers. 

“After sending a hundred e-mail pitches, Black Rose Writing offered me a contract,” Ross said. “Persistence is key.”

By day, Ross specializes in public relations and marketing programs for cybersecurity companies. She is currently an associate partner for marketing, content and communications for IBM X-Force Red, the company’s security services arm which includes a team of veteran hackers hired to break into organizations and uncover risky vulnerabilities.   

“Currently, I lead marketing for a team of hackers,” she said. “As you can imagine, every day is interesting.”

Ross has always enjoyed the craft of writing. And she says it continues to inform her career. “Since I was a child, I wrote poems, letters, essays and short stories,” she said. “As a news reporter (my first real job), I wrote stories every day — sometimes three a day. 

“My favorite part about being a news reporter was the moment I returned from a shoot, sat down at my desk and started writing. In an environment that can be unpredictable and stressful, writing comforted me.”

Ross also sees her current career as an opportunity to tell stories. “I write narratives every day, whether it’s a one-page brief that explains a cybersecurity challenge and how it can be solved, or a point of view blog post,” she said. “It’s the story of a client’s journey — why the client decided to say ‘yes’ to the meeting at-hand and how our team can help them walk away with the goals they were trying to achieve.”

Another book is in her future, Roth said. But with her full-time career and family responsibilities, it might not happen soon. 

Ross is married to Denis Toth, a specialist in asset management. The couple have two children, Felix, 7, and Heller, 4. They moved to Austin this past August from Chicago. Ross had visited Austin often for her job and had no qualms about the move.

”My work colleagues live in Steiner Ranch, so I knew the area. I appreciate the excellent schools, beautiful landscaping and culturally diverse community,” Ross said. 

“Whenever I turn off of 620 onto Quinlan Parkway and see the gorgeous sunset and hills around me, I think to myself, ‘I am so fortunate to live in this beautiful place.’ I hope that never wears off.”