Monday, January 25, 2016

My LCC: Nancy Cole Silverman

Growing up in Arizona I frequently heard stories, legends really, about the red rocks and the mountains surrounding the Phoenix area. When I was in college, my friends and I used to hike the Superstition Mountains, just north of Phoenix, in search of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. It was a favorite haunt of ours, we were drawn like prospectors who came in search of gold and settled for ghost stories we told around a campfire beneath the inky black desert skies.

Down the street from my home was Cactus Hill, an empty dirt lot that sat beneath the Wrigley Mansion. They used to shoot kids with BB guns who came too close. But that didn’t stop me and I have a few skinned knees to prove it. Curiosity has always gotten the best of me. I sometimes wonder if perhaps it was because I grew up in the desert where a writer’s best friend can be the big sky and open spaces.

Every year at Thanksgiving my family and I would hike Squaw Peak. Today the name of that mountain has been changed to Piestewa Peak, after the first Native American woman, Army Spc. Lori Ann Piestewa, who was killed in the Iraq war. It’s the second highest of the Phoenix Mountains (2610 feet) the first being Camelback. Legend is that this was the spot the Indians left their old squaws to die. Somewhere on that mountain is a registry, a record of those of us who hiked to the top of the mountain. If you get a chance, it’s worth the hike.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Camelback Mountain, that long, low range that looks like a Camel’s body, didn’t just get its name because it looks like a reclining camel. Camels really were part of Arizona’s history. In 1855, Congress paid $30,000 to purchase camels for the military. The thought was that they might prove more worthy than horses in the desert. Thank goodness they didn’t. I can’t imagine a western where a cowboy might ride into town on his camel.

North of Phoenix is Sedona, another favorite haunt of mine. I spent my summers in Oak Creek Canyon tubing down the river and swimming among the minnows. It’s a magical spot. Sedona’s noted for it a vortex, an area where the physical and metaphysical energies are their strongest. If you’re looking for a creative inspiration, Sedona, with it’s picturesque red rocks, is just two hours drive north of Phoenix.

Another stop, ninety minutes north of Phoenix, is the last home of Anasazi Indians, Montezuma Castle. Their ancestors, or those that survived, are believed to be mixed with the Pima Indians who live east of the Valley, in the Mesa area, farming cotton. I once wrote a story about their last night together as they huddled outside their cliff dwellings, listening to the fluted call of Kokopelli. You can find Kokopelli figurines everywhere, commemorating his legend being. He’s the humped back flute player with the antenna looking feathers protruding from his head. For me, returning home for the Left Coast Crime Convention, is a bit like walking through a memory field. It’s not just a chance to be among other writers and friends, but an opportunity to return to my roots, and those stories I remember from so long ago. Or perhaps it’s Kokopelli’s flute I hear playing.

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.


  1. What a gorgeous piece! Someday I want you to give me a tour of all this magical places.

  2. Now I wished I booked more time to spend there. Sounds like a wonderful place to grow up in.