Saturday, November 04, 2017

Guest Post: Nancy Cole Silverman

Please welcome Nancy Cole Silverman back to Type M. Nancy and I share the same publisher, Henery Press, and are also both members of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime. We've had many wonderful and interesting conversations over the years. Take it away, Nancy...


by Nancy Cole Silverman

I live in Hollywood, and when allegations film producer and former top studio exec Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted a number of Hollywood stars, women started talking. And not just about Harvey Weinstein, but about a cadre of studio execs and men in power in various industries who viewed women as fair game.

Women, particularly those of us who came of age during the civil rights movement, understood that our jobs and access to better positions with more money and power depended upon our not only doing a good job but pleasing those at the top as well. And sometimes that meant keeping our mouths shut.

If that sounds surprising to a younger generation of strong, independent women, consider this: A smart woman didn’t rock the boat. She didn’t have a human resources department to complain to. If a man insisted she have dinner with him, offered her a promotion in exchange for intimacy or locked the door to his office and chased her around his desk, she was on her own. If she complained, more often than not, the old boys’ club would rally ‘round the accused man and suggest she must have asked for it. After all, for the most part, those at the top viewed women in the workplace as an expendable commodity. In short, they could be removed, transferred or fired with little or any backlash to the man.

Simply put, women had to go-along-to-get-along. Or seek employment elsewhere.

I must have been channeling this when I sat down to write Room For Doubt, book four of The Carol Childs Mysteries. Women, the choices they make, their strengths in the workplace and their balancing act are a core aspect of all my novels. As a former talk radio exec, I pull a lot of my stories from headlines and those radio stations where I worked. But the theme for Room For Doubt, while very real was unlike any I’d ever read about or witnessed first hand because those stories are deeply buried. Yet I knew it innately. I felt as though I heard the hushed voices from another group of Me Too women. Women whose stories were even darker.

In Room For Doubt, my protagonist, Carol Childs, is called to the scene of a murder. A man’s body has been found hanging from the Hollywood Sign. The police have ruled the man’s death a suicide. But Carol doesn’t think so, and neither does Chase, an unruly private investigator. Chase’s theories run the gamut from an extraterrestrial killing to a gangland-style hit, and he wants to use Carol’s late night radio show to encourage listeners to call-in and talk about it. Carol refuses. She’s not about to open her show to a bunch of crazy conspiracy theorists. But when an anonymous caller named Mustang Sally calls in and confesses to the murder, things change, and so will Carol’s understanding of right and wrong.

The theme for Room For Doubt was a familiar one. A story that we as women all know. A story that has become part of our psyche. A story about a friend or relative who had disappeared, been murdered or was estranged from friends and family. Abuse takes many forms and is deadly.

I applaud those women who have found their voice and joined the Me Too Movement, and I hope those sisters whose stories are even darker, who hide in the shadows afraid to speak, will find their voice as well. Because, like Mustang Sally said, “Women are mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

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.


Anne Louise Bannon said...

I've heard that "Me too" came out of the African American community as a rallying cry when women in that group were speaking out about abuses. The scary thing is that so many of us women have experienced being hit on, dealt with unpleasant comments, even been physically attacked. Hopefully, raising awareness will not drive us to Mustang Sally's solution, but better understanding among all.

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Room for Doubt sounds fascinating. Good luck with it and let's hope the reactions to recent events signal the beginning of a new respect for women and an eventual (peaceful) end to misogynistic, abusive behaviour. I live in hope!

Nancy Cole Silverman said...

Thanks, Marianne. I think the more women speak out about sexism and abuse the more power we have to stop it. I hope you get a chance to read the book. As the author i certainly don't endorse Sally's ends to a means, but it was an eye opener.

Sybil Johnson said...

Thank you for this post, Nancy. I'm with Marianne on this one. I live in hope too!

Eileen Goudge said...

Great post, Nancy. My husband is the entertainment reporter for WABC-TV here in NYC where we live and he knows the players involved in the latest rash of sexual harassment accusations that are currently making headlines. He says the claims are under-reported and that the situation is worse than what's been made public. I find it incredibly sad and disgusting that in this so-called enlightened age we women still have to put up with this sh&*t. This is one reason I chose self-employment. Having been sexually harassed in the workplace in my youth, there's something to be said for having oneself as one's boss!