“I got into the Air Force in 1984, straight out of college,” DiSilverio says. “I did intelligence mostly, and spent three years teaching English at the Air Force Academy.” For that latter position, the Air Force sent DiSilverio to the University of Pennsylvania, where she got her master’s degree in literature. And that propelled her next career.
You won’t find any Air Force scandals in DiSilverio's novels, even though people are constantly asking why she doesn’t write military thrillers. “The problem with that Is that I had access to highly confidential information and signed non-disclosure agreements," she explains. "So I can't use any of that stuff.”
Military life does get worked into plot lines, though, through characters with military backgrounds like Charlie Swift, the private eye protagonist in DiSilverio’s Swift Investigation series, who started out in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
DiSilverio started writing full-time in 2004 when she retired from the Air Force. “It took about a year to get a completed manuscript," she remembers. "It took me two more years to find an agent. I have at least 108 rejection letters stacked in a drawer somewhere.”
When DiSilverio finally signed with an agent, she thought her troubles were over. Not quite: That first novel never actually sold. “What was I doing in the meantime? Writing a sequel to the book that never sold,” DiSilverio says.
Finally, in 2009, her agent called with a pitch from a publisher about women in a beauty parlor in coastal Georgia. “My first novel wasn’t even my own idea,” says DiSilverio.
No matter. That year the dam broke loose, and she wound up with contracts on ten books. So far, DiSilverio has done a humorous private investigation series and a mall cop series; her latest series — The Readaholics mysteries — became a national bestseller. The first book was released in April, and the latest installment – The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle – launches today, December 1.
The series is set in the fictional Western Slope town of Heaven, Colorado, and follows the five women in the Readaholics Book Club. “The women have jobs ranging from event organizer to part-time mayor to conspiracy theory blogger, and they read classic mysteries,” says DiSilverio. That last bit has been “really cool,” she adds, “because I’d never read those classics, and this is forcing me to get back into the foundations of my own literature.”
The Readaholics characters are smart and feisty. “I wanted them to be women my readers would want to be in a book club with,” DiSilverio explains. In The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle, the main protagonist organizes a party; when somebody is murdered there, the Readaholics plunge into their next investigation while simultaneously reading Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, which plays into how the book club solves the crime.
In September, DiSilverio released The Reckoning Stones, a standalone novel about Marcy Asher, who fled a tight-knit religious community when she was fifteen after accusing her pastor of molestation. The story opens decades later, when Marcy returns to her hometown of Black Forest, Colorado, to investigate a crime that was never solved. “It’s a novel about forgiveness, grace and redemption, and whether we can earn redemption. It’s also a mystery and suspense novel,” DiSilverio says.
Library Journal made The Reckoning Stones its pick of the month, and The Boston Globe hailed it as "nuanced and believable."
Colorado clearly inspires DiSilverio, who grew up in a military family. “I’ve been here fourteen years, she says. “That’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere in my entire life.”
In addition to her surroundings, DiSilverio draws inspiration “from people, from chance encounters, from a news story I hear in passing,” she says. “The way two people interact will spark an idea in me, and my brain goes into what/if mode.”
For more information on DiSilverio and her work, visit her website.