Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sylvia Dickey Smith

My very special guest today is Sylvia Dickey Smith, author of the Sidra Smart series. Sylvia, thank for coming over. Please tell us more about you.
 Hi, Susan. Thanks for hosting me on your blog. I would like to say I’ve followed your work and celebrate your success.
Thank you so much! I have read your books and own your cookbook, so I applaud your success as well.
Often, people ask me why my writing focuses on strong women. When I look back to understand that question myself, I think one of the most significant events leading to that was when—at 34—I moved to the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad & Tobago where my curiosity about the world took on a whole new dimension. Awed by the differences in customs and cultures, particularly as they related to West Indian women, I set out on a journey of study and self-discovery.
 Back in the U.S. at 40, this same curiosity propelled me to start college and didn’t stop until I achieved a B.A. in sociology with a concentration in women’s studies and a master’s in counseling. This experience opened my eyes to missed potential—my own, and women in general. Over the years, much of my study, research, and pleasure reading has focused on the history of women and the effect patriarchy has had on such.
 So, I suppose writing strong women was a natural progression.
Indeed. What an interesting background you have.
Syvlia, how many books have you written?
 I have four novels published, plus a cookbook.

  • The Sidra Smart Mystery series: (available on Kindle/Nook &other e-books)The titles are: Dance On His Grave; Deadly Sins Deadly Secrets; Dead Wreckoning.
  • A War Of Her Own: My latest release is a historical fiction set during WWII homefront. It recently won 1st Place in the Press Women of Texas Annual Awards & 2nd Place in the National Federation of Press Women contest--2010.
  • Sassy Southern Classy Cajun: a cookbook
My writing features women who recreate themselves into the people they want to be, strong women who take charge of their lives and get things done. (If you've met Sidra Smart or Bea Meade, you know what I mean.) The stories dwell on the wondrous twists and turns of human behavior rooted in my background as a counselor before I became a novelist. The tales are fun, sassy, and (according to my fans) darn good reads. I hope you like these kinds of books, too! I look forward to adding you and your readers as fans.
How do you develop characters?
Having a split personality comes in handy! The best way to describe how I develop my characters is to say that I “become” each character. I crawl inside their skin, feel what they feel, think what they think, look how they look, smell what they smell, believe what they believe, talk how they talk. The difficult part of that is remembering who I am when I step outside their bodies/minds/spirits!
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
 I wish! My writing life would be so much easier if I did—but a lot less fun! I write organically. I start with a character, usually—but sometimes an idea—and head out. I discover my story much the way the story unfolds for the reader. The problem with that is it ends up requiring rewrites, plot corrections, new clues developed, and sometimes, even a new murderer for mysteries. When the person you think is the bad guy isn’t, then you have to go back and figure out who is and add new clues. However, my brain freezes when I sit down and try to outline.
 How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
 I’d have to say that my environment and my upbringing IS the color of my writing! My life experiences have crossed a broad spectrum of life, exposing me to any number of people, faiths, races, abilities/disabilities, psychological health/ill health, climates, accents, behaviors—you name it.  Each gifts me with much to pick and choose from—or, perhaps I should say—gift my characters much to work with which to pick and choose from as they reveal themselves to me, and I, to my readers. It is indeed a fun journey!
Can you tell us about current or future projects?
I am so glad you asked! I’d love to. My current project is a novel called The Swamp Whisperer. It is the tale of:
 An old woman with more curiosity than good sense.
  • A Paleo-Indian tribe rebuilding a lost civilization under questionable circumstances.
  • A greedy college professor threatening the swamp’s eco-system.
  • And an angry feminine spirit who has kept the swamp in balance for thousands of years—until now.
 This humorous yet serious tale of balance and imbalance is told through the eyes of a nosy old swamp woman who stumbles upon a plot to use ancestors of a cannibalistic Indian tribe to locate a long-abandoned silver mine, by whatever means necessary. Confused by the intermittent presence of a long-deceased, disembodied figure named Parahaia, and an old man named Shadrach who pleads she save the swamp from greedy treasure seekers, the swamp whisperer soon gets in over her head. 
 Where can folks learn more about your books and events, Sylvia?
 Websites:     Email:

Sylvia, it's been a pleasure. Come back any time.

Thanks much, Susan. I look forward to hearing from your readers.


Randy Rawls said...

Sylvia might write "strong women" or so she says, but I have news for her. She simply writes (and darn well, at that) enjoyable reads. The fact they star a female is immaterial. Saying it's a "strong woman" book is like saying "Gone With the Wind" is only for women.
Keep it up, Sylvia, and I'll keep reading -- even though I'm very much a man.

Anonymous said...

Sylvia, a question and a comment.
Question: Why did you move to Trinidad-Tobago? One of the most interesting cruise ship stops of my travels was on Tobago -- a picture perfect island, and I really can imagine living there, if only briefly.

Comment: I'll look up your WW2 homefront novel. I lived through WW2 and I am so glad people are setting books during that time period. To date the only "homefront" books I've found are John Dunning's TWO O'CLOCK EASTERN WAR TIME and Loren Estleman's JITTERBUG.

Great interview. Best of luck,

Pat Browning

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

And I'm so glad you are, Randy! And there are a lot of men out there, including you, who enjoy reading strong women -- and that tells me they themselves are one! Else they'd flee! My books aren't just FOR women. I have many men fans, including you! Thanks! I like strong men, unintimidated by strong women!

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

Thanks, Pat! Yes, living in Trinidad was one of the best things that happened to me! Open my eyes to another world out there! My husband at the time worked with the church, and he and I, along with three children moved there to work with the local church groups there.

WW2 homefront-- thanks, hope you like it! I am not a war story type of writer. I like to dig into the social issues, family relationships, the times, etc. I really do hope it makes the period come alive. And that small town did phenomenal work--including many people I grew up with! Thanks for stopping by!