Tag Archive for: old radio shows

Some Mystery Related Influences from my Childhood

Many mystery authors attribute reading Nancy Drew mysteries for the writing they do now. I also read Nancy Drew, but looking back, I believe many other things from my childhood had a greater influence on what I do today.

Most of you know I’m much older than all the rest of the contributors to this blog. I grew up during World War II–and when I was about 10 I was convinced I would be asked to be a spy if the enemy landed on our shores. I lived in Los Angeles and we had black-outs, air raid drills at school, and I was highly influenced by the newsreels at the movies.

As for movies, we went every Friday night and stayed for both features. The 2nd one was always a B movie usually about gangsters, but often a mystery. My parents never questioned whether anyting was appropriate for their daughter or her 5 year younger sister.

At home, I listened to the radio faithfully. Having my own radio (a Christmas present) in my room meant I heard nearly every episode of all the mystery shows: The Whistler, Suspense Theater, The Adventures of Sam Spade, The Shadow, Inner Sanctum.

My little Philco radio also picked up police calls–which I was forbidden to listen to, once my mom found out about them. However, I still listened to them at night–and I heard the reports when the Black Dahlia’s body was found. Gave me nightmares for weeks.

My family subscribed to three newspapers: The L.A. Times, The Herald Examiner and The Daily News. I don’t think my dad ever read them–but my mother did. The Daily News had the most gossip and “best” photos. The articles I remember most were about the Black Dahlia murder and also the murder of Lana Turner’s boyfriend–by her daughter. Any death reported in their pages always carried the lurid details and graphic photographs. I didn’t pay much attention to the other news, but devoured all the reports about murder.

And one last memory. One of my mother’s church friends murdered her husband. While he slept on the couch, she hit in in the head with an axe. I was young and don’t remember many details though I do know she was put into a mental institution. One more thing, I heard one of my mother’s friends say, “He was the most boring man I ever met. If I’d been married to him, I might have done the same thing.”

Okay, you other authors, any similar childhood memories influence you?

And readers, what happened in your childhood that might have influenced you to read mysteries?


P.S. Yes, I do use some of what I remember in my books–old and newer memories.

What Really Influenced my Love of Mysteries

Like many mystery authors I often attribute my love of mysteries to Nancy Drew, but thinking back it was really something else.

Back in my childhood we didn’t have a TV until I was in junior high. Our entertainment came from the radio. We had our big standing radio in the living room, and my sister and I each had our own little Philco on our bedside table. I listened to every mystery show I could. Inner Sanctum was scary enough to send shivers down my spine, but among my favorites were I Love a Mystery, Sam Spade, The Shadow, and Philip Marlowe.

Every Monday night, Lux Radio Theatre had a live radio show, though later on they recorded them for later broadcast. Many of them were mysteries.

My very favorite though was Perry Mason. I went to one of the live broadcasts. Afterwards I went to the parking lot and got autographs of all the stars.

 Of course I continued to read Nancy Drew and soon graduated to grown-up mysteries. I loved the paperback detectives like Mike Hammer. I remember making book covers out of paper sacks so no one would know what I was reading at school.

If you like reading mysteries what ones do you remember best? And if you write mysteries, what influenced you to begin writing them?