Pamela (George) Ungashick's Path to Becoming an Author

Wednesday, June 5, 2024 - 3:45pm

It’s a Friday night in 1976 and news-editorial journalism student Pamela (George) Ungashick (‘80) is about to start her on-air shift at KRNU. Ungashick was curious about broadcasting, so she signed up for a few classes and that's how she found herself in the broadcasting booth every Friday at 5 p.m. for an entire semester.

"There was no such thing as podcasts, I played records and read the news," Ungashick said. "I remember my friends would all listen as they were partying and they'd poke fun at me being on the radio."

Despite the jabs, Ungashick’s time at KRNU was an important learning experience. It taught her about the intricacies of media and reaffirmed her decision to study journalism and focus on news writing and reporting.

But, Ungashick always knew she'd one day become a fiction author. In grade school, writing was her best subject; she wrote her first book in third grade about a horse and a little girl.

"When I went to the university, I knew I was going to be in journalism; it wasn't even really a question," Ungashick said. "I also knew I wanted to write books, but I couldn't quite put together how I could make a living as an author."

Still, she minored in English, taking courses in storytelling and creative writing to learn what she could about being an author, all while discovering her love for the fast-paced world of journalism at Avery Hall.

After graduating, Ungashick began her career as a reporter working for a small paper in Wyoming covering a wide range of topics, including murders and courtroom trials. These experiences were invaluable in sharpening her journalistic skills.

Ungashick taught high school journalism in Omaha after leaving Wyoming, and when she moved to St. Louis and married, she pivoted to corporate work and became an expert in employee communications.That choice led to a full career in the public relations field working for major companies.

When Ungashick retired, there was one important dream left to fulfill: she wanted to write fiction.

For a few years, she took online classes and worked on several different manuscripts, searching for her voice and genre. Eventually, she discovered her affinity for dark, twisted stories and found inspiration in the eeriness of psychological thrillers.

After attracting a publisher, she released her first book, "Somebody Knows," in March 2024. It's a historical fiction novel set in the 1940s that ventures into the suspense and psychological thriller genres. "Somebody Knows" has received many positive editorial reviews as well as high praise from readers who comment on the intricate plot and rich characters.

  • “If “Somebody Knows” serves as a preview of what's to come, it heralds Ungashick as a promising new talent in the genre,poised to deliver narratives that are as unsettling as they are emotionally impactful.”Literary Global review
  • “Run, don’t walk, to read this initial offering from Ms. Ungashick. The book is rich in real world character development that forces the reader to deeply invest in the complicated stories that entwine the book’s protagonists.Amazon reader
  • "The unpredictable plot is like riding a roller coaster; just as I thought I had the answers, the sudden twists took me in a different direction."—*onlinebookclub* five-star review
  • "Filled with rich prose and subtle wit, this is a psychological thriller and family drama that will delight the most demanding readers."—Reedsy Discovery, "Must Read" five-star review
  • "Not your typical noir whodunnit… it’s a hardscrabble world where the author resists easy plot twists, trusting in her characters’ abilities to act in very real world, if often flawed, decisions. Loved this.”Amazon reader
  • “Pamela Ungashick is a consummate storyteller. Her characters exhibit human traits, good and bad, and situations, hopeful and tragic, that we see in ourselves and others we know, even if not quite on the extreme end of the evil spectrum exhibited by some of the people in her book. She keeps us guessing as to what will happen next, as well as forcing readers, while being judgmental from a safe distance, to ask themselves, "What would I do in that situation?" I eagerly await Pamela's next novel.”—Amazon reader

"Traditional publishing feels really good," Ungashick said. "It's like getting your degree and taking aim at a new career.”

Her second book is almost complete. It takes place in western Nebraska in the 1990s and in many ways, is a nod to her days at Avery Hall. As a college senior in 1980, Ungashick wrote an in-depth reporting series about U.S. civil defense after the cold war, and visited an abandoned missile silo near Kimball, Nebraska—a setting she revisits in book.

"It was one of the coolest experiences because I was a senior, traveling on my own, interviewing people about the dangerous sites and everything the government left behind," Ungashick said. "Forty years later, I'm saying to myself, 'I think I'm going to use those missile silos in a book,' it really is full circle."

Learn more about "Somebody Knows" and get the book here.

Get to know Pamela on this episode of KRNU Campus Voices.

Pamela (George) Ungashick, author of
Pamela (George) Ungashick, author of "Somebody Knows"