A big welcome to Nancy Cole Silverman, author of the Carol Childs Mysteries series. Nancy is celebrating the release of her latest book, Reason for Doubt. She was kind enough to provide an ARC for review, then to answer some questions for us.
LM: How did you come up with the idea for this story?
NCS: Back in 1996, I was working at a news/talk radio station in Los Angeles when a young model’s body was found in the desert. Investigators soon connected her murder to that of a freelance photographer with whom she had set up a meeting for a photo shoot. But prior to closing in on the suspect, the police began questioning a number of local photographers who knew and had worked with the young model. Coincidentally, my brother-in-law, a fashion photographer, was one of the photogs questioned. Of course, police soon zeroed in on the real killer, and he was arrested and is currently serving a life sentence in prison. However, the story, like most of the stories I’ve used in the Carol Childs mysteries, stayed with me. What if someone close to Carol was involved with a photographer accused of murdering his models. With a lot of creative thinking on my part, I took the premise from that story and developed it into the story you find in Reason To Doubt. The idea that Carol’s young daughter returns from college with a boyfriend/photographer in tow and he is later accused of a murdering three young models was just too good to pass up.
LM: Protecting the source is a big deal in this book, and I remember my journalism friends being schooled in this when I was the sports reporter for my college paper (importance of protecting anonymous sources was not such a big deal for me). What is the California law you reference? Carol is willing to go to jail; does it often come to that point?
NCS: There are no national shield laws to protect reporters and their sources. States are really on their own to design what they feel either works or doesn’t work for them. Consequently, there are thirteen states that have no such protection for news people, and of the remaining thirty-seven states, only twelve offer absolute protection to the reporter. The California Shield Law offers protection from prosecution for “qualified reporters and news sources,” but there is a “balancing test” the court is allowed to administer to determine the qualification of such immunity.
In such cases, it is up to the judge to determine if the information the reporter is holding is available through any other means. If it is not, and the information is deemed important, the judge can insist the reporter reveal any sources or information pertinent to the case, and if the reporter refuses, he or she can be sent to jail until such time as the reporter agrees to give over the requested information or the judge sets them free. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen too often. And as Tyler informs Carol, the decision, since she’s the one who would go to jail, is entirely up to her. However, Tyler reminds her, if she chooses to reveal her sources, her future as an investigative reporter is finished.
LM: There’s a lot of angst between Carol and her daughter. Catie makes what Carol thinks are some poor choices…why? And does Carol really value her job above her daughter as Catie accuses her?
NCS: Cate’s relationship with her daughter was a subplot I wanted to address as Carol’s relationship with Cate changes. What mother hasn’t faced challenged with a growing teenage daughter? Particularly one that brings a boyfriend home from college unannounced?
When Cate’s boyfriend is arrested as a possible murder suspect, Cate lashes out at her mother, accusing Carol of choosing her job over her daughter. What Cate doesn’t know, and what Carol can’t share with her daughter, is that Carol is protecting an anonymous source. Someone who can identify the killer and whose identity must remain a secret. While Carol can’t reveal what she knows, she does know that if she doesn’t follow the story through to the end, Cate’s boyfriend may go down for a crime he may not have committed. The only thing Carol knows for certain is that Cate is determined to stand behind a man the police think may be responsible for the murder of three young women. The situation has Carol’s mind in overdrive. Fighting for her daughter’s love, her job, and perhaps the life of the young man her daughter believes has been falsely accused of murder.
Ultimately, Carol learns she needs to trust that she’s raised her daughter to be a bright woman and that Cate will make the right decision.
In the end, it’s a story of trust and love and giving each other the space we need to find it.
LM: What’s next for Carol?
I’m currently working on a new series with Misty Dawn. Misty is a former Hollywood psychic to the stars, who first appeared on the pages of the Carol Childs mysteries in Shadow of Doubt. When I finished writing Reason To Doubt, I realized I needed to find a home for Misty. She was too dynamic to leave on the pages as a supportive character, and I decided to start a series with her as well. The first draft is currently with my publisher for review, and – fingers crossed – hopefully, you’ll be reading about her very soon.
Until then, stay tuned.
Nancy Cole Silverman credits the fact both she and Edgar Allen Poe share the same birthday, along with her twenty-five years in talk radio, for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. After writing everything from commercial copy to news Silverman retired from radio in 2001 to write fiction. Today, Silverman has written numerous short stories and novelettes some of which have been produced as audio books. Silverman’s new series, the Carol Childs Mysteries (Henery Press) takes place inside a busy Los Angles Radio station. Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, four adult children, and thoroughly pampered standard poodle.