Nancy began her working life as an on-air TV reporter, but switched, when she moved to LA, to the business side of media. She climbed the ranks as a sales executive, and later became one of only two female General Managers in the second largest radio market in America. But, like many of us, she had this urge to write...
Founding The Equestrian News got her started, as she went back and forth between articles and fiction. She experimented with self-publishing short fiction and - this is different - audio fiction. She debuted her series about Carol Childs, a reporter for a Los Angeles talk radio station, with SHADOW OF A DOUBT, and its sequel, BEYOND A DOUBT, will be out this July.
I’ve just returned from the California Crime Writers Conference, spilling over with ideas and motivation. It’s a welcome relief to find a community of twisted minds that appreciate a good murder and don’t mind sitting around dishing the details, no matter how morbid. I mean, how often can a writer ask questions like, exactly how one would go about hooking up an exhaust hose to the tailpipe of car or what type of poison could someone mix into a cocktail without affecting the taste or color? Conversations like these, in the lobby of any other hotel, would have strangers retreating across the room and alerting security. Happily none of this happened. Although one writer, who shall remain anonymous, did confess to me over drinks – writers do spend their fair share of time at the bar – that she had been practicing with a set of lock-picking tools on the doors of her hotel room.
“And they worked!” She sounded delighted. Like a kid at Christmas who’d gotten a new toy. She reached into her pocket and produced two small hairpin sized items that fit neatly into the palm of her hand.
“Aren’t those illegal?” I looked over my shoulder. I was pretty certain they were. Suddenly the needle on my crime writer’s curiosity meter was in the red zone.
“Yes, but if you know someone, illegal is really more a matter of semantics.” She smiled sardonically, took a sip of her wine then slipped her illicit tools back into her bag.
I didn’t pursue the conversation. My vision of my friend, crouched down outside the doorway of her hotel room door, jimmying the lock, was more than enough information for me to process at the moment. Beside, as we say in Hollywood, a bigger name – in this case, a bigger curiosity – had just sat down on the barstool next me.
The Bug Man.
He was probably the only person in the room I feared. A forensic entomologist, a conference guest whose stories and pictures I found more terrifying than any I could imagine. Bugs and creepy crawlies that could carry away twenty to thirty percent of a dead body before the coroner even arrived.
I leaned closer to my lock-picking friend and asked him, “Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Like an ant to a corpse on a hot desert day. Cheers.”
As a former journalist, I feel obligated to say, the above is loosely based on events that may or may not have happened at CCWC. But they happened in my mind, which may explain why I feel a certain comradely with my crime writing buddies. They get me. And I get them. Perhaps it’s because of the bizarre interests we share, the secrets we harbor for one another, or maybe because I’ve been bitten by some strange crime-writing bug the bug-man let loose in his seminar. But I’m oddly fulfilled after spending time with other writers. My head is clearer. My goals more defined.
Anne Perry, one of our Keynote speakers, said writers get to do it all. Create the crime and carry it out – on paper anyway. And one of the best things about writing a mystery it is that it could be anywhere, any time in history or any type of crime. She admits to several chilling untimely ends for some of the characters in her books, including boiling them in oil. For crime writers it doesn’t get much better than that.
But what I liked most, and what I took away from the conference, was that we, as writers, not only get to tell stories, make up fantastic tales and memorable characters. We get to share what goes on in the heads of our characters and in doing so an opportunity to burrow into the minds of our readers. Good writing makes us think. Our characters make us feel and sometimes, if we’re lucky, when a reader finishes a book, we may have helped to open their eyes to seeing the world differently or a least a part of it they may not have known. It’s a creative challenge and a responsibility I find not only chilling but rewarding. It makes me excited about being a writer.
In my new book Beyond A Doubt, Carol Childs uncovers a sex-trafficking ring when she is called to the scene of a body dump. For many, prostitution is a line-in-the-sand, a legitimate business or a crime that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Carol’s caught in the middle. Girls are disappearing. The white knight who offers shelter for girls able to escape is a former sex industry worker, and the city’s sterling police commissioner less honorable than his public persona.
Is this a cozy?
Readers can relax. Explicit sex and violence are off the page. Instead, in true Carol style, ingenuity, smarts, a microphone and a little bit of humor carry her through an investigation.
I’ve long believed the story chooses the writer. Not the other way around. Several years ago helicopters circled an area above my home in the Hollywood Hills. The body of a young girl, no more than twenty-something, had been dumped in the canyon. She was a model who had gone to do a shoot with a photographer she didn’t know. I never forgot it. The story stuck with me, and as I sat down to write BeyondA Doubt, my research led to a number of other missing young girls. Most fortunately don’t end in a body dump, but many of the missing, are similar. They’re young girls in search of the glitz and glamor of Hollywood.
It was a story I had to write. Girls in search of a career and ironically, like Carol, a reporter struggling to prove her worth, faced with choices and challenges that don’t always end well.
My goal wasn’t to write about the sex trade. I didn’t set out to convince my readers one way or another about prostitution. My goal was simply to advance Carol as an investigator and what came out of it, was the importance of the choices women make.
While many readers may get caught up in with the who-done-it of my mysteries, I have found the subplots equally as complex. The choices women make: their jobs, their families and their relationships with each other, both in the work place and outside, are infinitely as compelling. Since I first stepped foot in the workplace leaning-in and taking jobs that few women, if any before me ever had, I've been conscious of our role.
Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of my job as a writer is to channel Carol's balancing act at work, at home and romantically. Like Anne Perry said, getting the reader to see something of life they might not have seen before and understanding the choices people make with a new perspective.
Nancy is offering one lucky commentor a signed copy of her upcoming book, BEYOND ADOUBT!
When reporter Carol Childs is called to the scene of a body dump she has no idea she’s about to uncover a connection to a string of missing girls: young women drawn to Hollywood via an internet promise of stardom. A judge’s daughter and a trip down Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame lead Carol to a high powered real estate mogul and a human trafficking cartel.
Old Hollywood has its secrets, and when Carol gets too close, she finds her career threatened and herself a target who, like the girls she’s seeking, may disappear without a trace...
You can find more about Nancy Cole Silverman and her book at her website. You can friend her on Facebook, discuss reading with her on Goodreads, and follow her on Twitter as @NancyColeSilve1