Nancy Cole Silverman credits her twenty-five years in radio for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. In 2001, Silverman retired from news and copywriting to write fiction full time. In 2014, Silverman signed with Henery Press for her new mystery series, The Carol Childs’ Mysteries. The first of the series, Shadow of Doubt, debuted in December 2014 and the second, Beyond a Doubt, debuted July 2015. The third in the series, Without A Doubt, was released in May 2016. Silverman also has written a number of short stories, many of them influenced by her experiences growing up in the Arizona desert. For more information visit www.nancycolesilverman.com
When I was a kid, I remember listening to late night mystery theater on the radio. Those old radio plays whose transmissions mysteriously found their way through my bedroom window in the black of night, shadowed images in my mind that were more powerful than a big screen cinema.
Now don’t get me wrong. I grew up loving movies and watching all the popular fifty and sixties TV shows. But, there was nothing like late night radio to sharpen my senses of mystery, and while I didn’t know it then, would prepare me years later for writing for the blank page.
When I was seven-years-old, my dad and I made my first crystal diode radio set. We strung the antenna through the grapefruit orchards in my backyard, and I had my own headphones, which seemed super cool to me. I could listen to radio stations thousand of miles away. I tuned to KOY in Colorado or KNX in Los Angeles, all from beneath the sheets of my bed in the middle of the Arizona desert, where I slept with a flashlight to keep the bad guys away.
To me, radio embodies everything that is mysterious. Faceless voices. Piercing screams. Hollow sound effects. Scratchy signals that black out and then bleed into the night from far off lands.
My fascination with radio turned into a career. I spent twenty-five years in the business. Most of it news and talk radio. I wrote everything from news to commercial copy, and I retired as the general manager of a sports talks radio station. Proof that God has a sense of humor! I’m not a sports babe. But when the opportunity presented itself for me to pitch the job, I did what any other ambitious female might do. I leaned in.
When I was very young, I was asked to ride the midnight signal. That’s the equivalent of spot checking the signal, driving to the outermost areas of the station’s signal and listening to make sure there’s no interference. I think it was more of a joke than a serious request from the station’s engineer, and when I did it – at least partially – he appeared surprised. Years later I would use that experience in a short story. It was beyond spooky. But then, like radio signals, mystery is made up of that which we can not see or that we can see but can not hear or understand.
In 2001, I retired from radio, but it wasn’t long before I found myself itching to write about what I knew. I think the story picks the writer. And the stories I’ve penned with The Carol Childs Mysteries have picked me. They’re not too dissimilar from those I either witnessed or worked on during my career, although for the sake of fiction, they are much spicier.
The only real difference between my career in radio and my protagonist, Carol Childs, is that I wanted a middle-aged woman, who was at a crossroads in her life. She’s been given a chance to reinvent herself as a reporter. Something she’s longed to do. Of course, with opportunity comes challenge. Carol’s challenge comes in the way of her boss, a peach-faced whiz-kid who calls her the World’s Oldest Cub Reporter.
Conflict, mystery and that blank page. I love it, and I hope you enjoy reading the series as much as I have in writing it.
Nancy Cole Silverman