by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Beyond A Doubt, along with a link to purchase the book. We also have a fun interview with Nancy!
Beyond a Doubt By Nancy Cole Silverman
Review by Cynthia Chow
While KHCH reporter Carol Childs is always hungry for a good news story, she never expected that her life would become so dominated by the murder of a young woman. Although only the latest in a string of attractive women to have gone missing, Monica Channing was a kindergarten teacher and the daughter of a prominent Los Angeles judge, meaning that the press and the LAPD focused all of their attention on the case. Considering that Carol’s daughter Cate is close to the same age as all of the missing women, Carol has reason to be highly interested the fate of the women tied to the Hollywood club scene.
A flash-mob promotion on the Hollywood Walk of Fame provides clues to the disappearance of the hopeful young women, but it comes with risk to her own daughter. With her boyfriend, FBI Special Agent Eric Langdon, away sailing on his yacht, Carol has to rely on her news director Tyler Hunt, and her affluent (and with too much free time) best friend Sherri as investigative assistant as well as enabler. It’s not long before Carol pinpoints a suspect for the disappearances, but his power and reputation place justice far out of her grasp.
This mystery shines with its unique perspective from a competitive radio news station in media-focused Los Angeles. A recent turnover in owners has KHCH targeting women with a lighter approach to the news, and its new motto (“Chick Radio–Something to Cluck About”) is pretty deplorable. As a result, Carol’s investigation into the seedier side of LA and the deplorable fate of so many aspiring starlets is not met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Silverman’s experience as a radio news reporter exposes the grim reality of news cycles, where even pretty victims have barely fifteen minutes of grim fame before being replaced by the next hot topic. Equally fascinating is how an attention-grabbing crime forces the media and law enforcement into opposing sides, with news stations hungry for details, officers keenly aware of how every act will be judged, and reporters quick to place blame.
From the moment the body is discovered, the plot kicks into high gear, and the tension rarely lets up in this extremely fast-paced novel. Carol does not always display common sense when seeking out sources, but her belief that the police will not listen to her suspicions is substantiated when she gets hauled in for breaking and entering. Carol’s questionable impulses are usually justified, and as a reporter her intelligence and talent is undeniable. This follow-up to Shadow of a Doubt is a high-speed chase of a mystery, filled with likable characters, a timely plot, and writing so compelling that readers will be unable to turn away from the page.
Interview With Nancy Cole Silverman
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Nancy: Does it count if I say I wrote my first short story at seven with more misspelled words and grammar mistakes than the actual word count? I was not a natural student, more a daydreamer, and the discipline of developing the tools-of-the-trade did not come to me until much later. I think I was fourteen and in high school when my sophomore English teacher sat me down and said, “You know, Nancy, you’ve got a raw talent, but you’ve got to follow a few rules or no one will ever read your work.” That’s when I went to work for the school newspaper and started to hone my skills as a reporter/writer.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? A little about it?
Nancy:My first actual novel was The Centaur’s Promise. It’s a story about a woman who learns about her own talents when she is asked by a mythical centaur to help inform the world about the challenges facing America’s wild horse population. More and more these horses are losing their homes and becoming lost to us. I was drawn to the story after reporting on a number of wild horse roundups and saddened to see them shipped to holding centers far from their homeland.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense (Other than the fantasy novel you just mentioned)? If not what else have you written?
Nancy: I started my career as a Television/radio news reporter. I had a little experience with print journalism in both high school and college and the structure and daily grind of deadlines helped me to develop a good work ethic towards writing. I’ve also written tons of commercial copy and promotional material for on air. I believe it was radio, however, that gave me my biggest break as far as writing goes because it taught me to write for the ear. Without pictures, the words on the page must generate sound and emotion in the reader’s mind or the story is lost. That said, I’ve written a number of short stories and novelettes.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Nancy: Obviously because I worked in radio for so many years it seemed only natural for me to place my protagonist, Carol Childs, inside a news and talk-show radio station. Working inside a news/talk radio station in one of the world’s biggest cities and markets made it like a front row seat at Grand Central Station. Every day new and unusual people would visit and many, many times they were not the same people the station’s stations listeners would hear on the air. Something about a microphone, like a camera, causes people to morph into their alter egos. It was fun to watch then, and with the gift of the muse to guide me, even more fun to write about now.
I also was fortunate to be working at a time when women were just coming into the own, both on the air and in the industry. When I first began in broadcasting, women were not allowed to do hard news. The thought was that their voices were too light and airy, and no one would believe serious news coming from a woman. Thank God those days have passed, but many of the attitudes and situations that prevailed back then still permeate the attitudes of those behind the mic or who influence the management of a station today.
Because Carol Childs is a mid-aged (40) single, working mom, in the midst of a career change she runs into a lot of internal struggles with management. Her boss, Tyler Hunt, is a boy-wonder, half her age, and not wild about training the world’s oldest cub reporter and the hard news Carol wants to cover is not only difficult for her to chase, but sometimes even harder for her to get on the air.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Nancy: The first rule of copywriting; make the listener want to listen. To do that, a writer has to entertain. After that, anything I want to schmooze into the story, I can do, whether it’s what I believe in or exactly the opposite. I think it’s a writer’s gift if they can get into the reader’s mind and cause the reader to see something in a different light. Good writers enable the reader to look at something from a different perspective than they might have before.
I don’t really have an agenda with the Carol Childs mysteries, unless it’s that women are surprisingly resilient and creative and able to overcome great odds because of their ability to think outside of the box. This is Carol’s greatest strength and I believe what sets her apart from so many female sleuths today who try to out muscle their antagonist. For me it’s not about brawn but brains.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Nancy: I like to write first thing in the morning. Many times I will go to bed and make a note to myself about something in the manuscript I want to tackle the next day, or perhaps a stumbling block I’m trying to work through. I find often by the time I wake up I’ve either got an answer or a new angle and I can go from there.
In addition to that, I write throughout the day. I take a lot of breaks, go for walks, to the gym and prepare dinner. I find writing in short spurts, usually scenes, allows me to then walk away and come back fresh. I seldom write at night. I enjoy watching TV and studying the plot and character development of shows I’m watching, and of course I read. I’m always reading.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Nancy: I don’t do a hard outline, but I do have a rough idea what the story is about and where I want it to go before I pen my first scene.
I like to start with writing scenes. I begin with writing that scene that grabbed me in the first place. I don’t worry about flushing the scene out totally. I just try to write the passion and emotion that caught my attention in the first place. From there I’ll write a few more scenes. They may or may not be linear in the story line, just scenes I find exciting. When I’ve got several scenes together I’ll start writing bullet points for sequential scenes with a focus on my end chapters. Somehow it all works. Like Geoffrey Rush’s character, Philip Henslowe, said in Shakespeare in Love, “It’s a mystery.”
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Nancy: I think I’m living my ideal. When I retired I decided I’d never again be on an LA freeway before ten a.m. or between the hours of three to eight p.m., what we here in Southern California call Rush Hour. I like the stillness of the morning and working from my home office and not having to go to an office or deal with traffic is my ideal. The only thing I have to navigate in the morning is the stairway to my upstairs retreat.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Nancy: Even after a long career in radio I felt like a fish out of water submitting to agents and publishers. I’d get responses back saying my manuscript was interesting, but not sufficiently. I could have wallpapered my office with them. It was terribly discouraging. Fortunately, along rejection-row, I started to get success with my short stories. It was like bread crumbs encouraging me. Writing is a long, lonely process and writing a book the longest, loneliest path of all. Having small success with short stories was like a lifeline. I kept writing, every day and eventually, I found my way into Henery Press. They’ve been fantastic to work with and I believe I’ve grown as a writer since signing with them.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Nancy: Living in Southern California it’s hard to get people out to book signings. Unless you’re a Hollywood name people don’t venture out into traffic to go across town to meet with an upstart author. It’s very discouraging. What I’ve found is that conventions, writer’s groups and small venues offer the most opportunity.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Nancy: I’m currently working on book four of the Carol Childs mysteries. I believe a writer, like an artist, has to write. When you finish a blank canvas you start the next.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Nancy: Michael Connelly, Stephen King, Alexandra Sokoloff, Lee Child, Sue Grafton…
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Nancy:Suffice to say if the FBI ever checked my computer for the internet searches I’ve done, I’d be a suspect in half a dozen different crimes. It’s frightening.
KRL: What do you read?
Nancy: Pretty much anything the above mentioned authors I can get my hands on. I also try to vary my reading with lesser known authors, particularly those from smaller publishers. I think smaller publishers are willing to take greater risks and some of the works coming from them is very timely and insightful. In short, I’ll read everything put in front of me, including developmental manuscripts for friends.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Nancy: TV: Criminal Minds, Castle, Rozzoli & Isles, Big Bang… I also watch a lot of PBS. I loved Mr. Selfridge and of course, Downton Abbey
CNN: News and travel features.
Movies: What can I say? Spy flicks and chick flicks would be on the top of my list. Also: Argo, Nebraska, Midnight in Paris, Mud….the list goes on.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Nancy: Read and write every day. Writing is like playing an instrument. You have to practice and you must listen and read what is popular and what has been popular.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Nancy: I hope my books find their way into the hands and hearts of those readers who will appreciate them. I’ve enjoyed sharing Carol’s world on the pages of my books and I hope it will bring joy to those who read them.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Nancy: I’m good in front of large crowds as a speaker. I like to share my experiences, but I dislike large big parties and loud people. I prefer small intimate dinners and frequently entertain at home where I can cook – I love to cook – and visit with friends in the comfort of my home.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
KRL: How do you compete in an overcrowded market?
Nancy: Patience, respect and perseverance. It’s only natural for a writer to get frustrated, but writing is a freeing of what’s inside the writer. In many ways it’s like therapy. For me, I write one book and go on to the next, knowing I’m developing a craft and talent in ways I’ve now got time to really enjoy and hope others will too.
To enter to win a copy of Beyond a Doubt, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Beyond,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 25, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.