An Interview with Nancy Cole Silverman

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 fulltime. 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. Coming soon, in 2016, is the third in the series, Without A Doubt. 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

BMH: Where did you grow up?

NCS:  I grew up in the wide open spaces of the Arizona desert during the fifties and the sixties.

BMH: How did your youth influence your writing?

NCS:  I think growing up with the big sky, red rocks, and cactus influenced my creativity greatly. Edith Head, the fashion designer, also spent a lot of time in the desert during her youth. I once heard her quoted, saying she used Saguaro cactus as her models, and look how far she went.

BMH: When did you write your first book?

NCS:  I wrote a lot of short stories before I ever wrote my first book. The thought of writing a book was intimidating. How could I ever sustain suspense for that long. It wasn’t until I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott in 2005 that I thought I could actually write a book. My first books were self-published and largely learning experiences for me.

BMH: When you signed your first book contract, how did you celebrate?

NCS:  Sat down and began writing my next book. If that sounds odd, it’s true. It was advice my son gave me and to this day, I think he’s right. Pat yourself on the back and get back to work.

BMH: Tell us about your first public appearance as an author.

NCS: Authors in big cities find it more difficult to secure public appearances than those in smaller markets. In Los Angeles, until you’re a Hollywood name, it’s very difficult to get a big name bookstore to greenlight an appearance. Most of my appearances have been in outlying areas where I’ve been asked to read or speak on the craft of writing. Which I love to do.

BMH: If you were going to be on a desert island by yourself for an extended time what three things would you take with you and why those three?

NCS:  Assuming I had a completely furnished tree house, like in Robinson Crusoe, I’d like to make certain it included a computer, a WIFI internet connection, and plenty of coffee. In fact, if you could arrange for it, I’d be on a plane there tomorrow.

BMH: If you could go back and time and meet with anyone, who would it be? What would you talk about?

NCS:  I think I would like to go back in history and talk to Susan B. Anthony about the Suffragette movement. I find women’s rights and place in history very interesting and it’s something that is always a background in my work. I’m drawn to it, but more a modern perspective. While I believe women have come a long way, there is so much that goes on in the business world that makes for very good copy.

BMH: What is the best advice someone gave you about writing?

NCS:  Sit down and start writing. Writers are writers, talking about won’t get you there.

BMH: What do you wish you’d known before you became a writer?

NCS:  How important it is to chronicle my own feelings. You can’t write about loss or anger unless you can revisit those times when emotion clouded your thinking and all you could do was feel. What physical changes took place in my body? My temperature, my heart rate, my stomach? It’s those feelings a writer needs to be able to recreate on the page that will have reader believing the writer’s character. Without them, a writer risks their characters becoming cliches.

BMH: Name a few authors who have influenced your writing.

NCS:  Michael Connelly, John Grisham, Stephen King, Lee Child, Sandra Brown, Sue Grafton. I try to read most of the authors on the best sellers list and also research new, lesser known authors all the time.

BMH: Why did you choose to write crime fiction?

NCS:  I worked in news/talk radio in Los Angeles for twenty-five years. Because of the stories we covered and action inside the newsroom, it seemed like a natural to me. Often what happened inside the newsroom, behind the mic, was as interesting as the mystery unfolding on the airwaves. I try to bring that out in each of my books. I love radio, it taught me to write for the ear and ultimately for the blank page.

BMH: What is the hardest thing about writing?

NCS:  The middle. Beginning a book is often the most fun. The ideas flow and the characters are like first dates, full of promise and mystery. I can’t wait to get into it. Then comes the middle. The muddy middle, where if you’re not careful things fall apart. When that happens, I find it best to skip ahead and write end scenes until things start to clear up for me.

BMH:  What is the easiest?

NCS:  (I think I’ve answered this in the previous question.)

BMH: How do you use social media?

NCS:  For me, it’s a constant learning process. I’m on Facebook, GoodReads, Twitter and in various readers rooms. But interest and activity on various sites change so quickly it’s hard to know where to go to promote your work without being overly pushy.

BMH: Do you blog?

NCS:  Yes. I enjoy the process. It allows me to be me, not just the writer me.

BMH: What’s your daily writing routine?

NCS:  I start my day early. My best ideas are usually those I have early in the morning. In fact, if I’m working on a scene I’ll usually jot some notes to myself before going to bed, mainly those stumbling blocks, and usually by morning my mind is clear enough to smooth those things out that were problems the day before.

BMH: How about some hard-learned advice for new authors?

NCS:  Keep at it. The only failure is stopping.

BMH: What do you do to cut loose and have some fun?

NCS:  Hike or go for a walk. I have a girlfriend and she and I pick a different section of the city we’ve never been to and do a lot of discovery hikes. Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains and lots of trails that beg me to come explore.

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