Meet the author of award-winning mysteries, historical novels, and contemporary women’s fiction: Sylvia Dickey Smith, of Georgetown, Texas.
Ms. Smith is the author of the Sidra Smart mystery series, featuring ex-minister’s-wife-turned-P.I. Sidra Smart, set in the bayou country around Orange, Texas. The four books to date include: Dance on His Grave, Deadly Sins Deadly Secrets, Dead Wreckoning, and The Swamp Whisperer)
She also authored A War of Her Own, selected as Novel of Year by the Press Women of Texas. A War of Her Own offers a story of wartime passions on the World War II homefront, introducing us to Bea Meade, young mother and lady riveter, who faces more than her share of challenges working in a booming naval shipyard in the South in 1943.
Her most recent novel, Original Cyn, is a contemporary women’s fiction novel that tackles a sensitive subject, the extra-marital affair of the wife of a Southern Baptist preacher.
Great Lakes Literary: Catch us up on what’s been going on in your life lately.
Sylvia: The longer I live the more I realize I inherited the restless spirit of my dad. I am a fifth generation Texan, and except for a short break in the 70’s, I lived in Texas – from east Texas, to the far western corner of El Paso, and then half way back to central Texas. In 2013, my husband and I moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas because we fell in love with the town and its people. Soon, the Garland County Library hired me to develop and teach a writers college. I loved sharing what I’ve learned over the years. Sell-out crowds discussed topics like: “How To Create A Sense of Place,” “Twisting A Mystery,” “What Is Writer’s Voice and How Do I Find Mine?” and “Creating 3D Characters In a Flat Stanley World.”
Meanwhile, I penned and had published my mainstream women’s fiction novel, Original Cyn. Cynthia, the protagonist, drowns in the lack of identity beyond the one assigned by her preacher-husband. She questions should she stay in the relationship or not. Before she can decide, events force her to flee. If she goes far enough fast enough, those back home will have to deal with the chaos they created. Deal with it or go to hell in their sanctimonious handbaskets. Until a phone conversation leaves her with even more difficult choices. I hope you will read it!
When health issues developed for my spouse, we moved back to central Texas, closer to family.
Great Lakes Literary: In your Sidra Smart series, Sidra is a great protagonist, a 50-ish women who stumbles into the P.I. business and learns as she goes. But many readers loved another character just as much, Boo Murphy, who takes over in the fourth book, The Swamp Whisperer. She is a hoot! A real swamp rat. Readers loved her attitude and spunk. She’s a great role model for people who think they’re too old to take on big projects. Where did she come from and how did you find her voice?
Sylvia: Boo Murphy is one of my favorite clients of Sidra’s. She resonates in my heart, and glad she does in readers’ as well. She is a composite of many women I’ve met, particularly in the backwoods of Texas. And let’s face it, there’s something about swamps and spectral spirits that draws people in. I know I’ve been captivated by issues of the spirit, and many of the Sidra Smart books involve some sort of supernatural element? And for The Swamp Whisperer, I loved the play between the irascrible Boo and her cousin who puts on airs, Sasha. I admit I had too much fun with that. Particularly when Sasha attempted to climb in Boo’s pirogue…
And Dawg! My writer’s heart broke for Boo when Dawg went missing. “You just don’t mess with a woman’s dog.”
Great Lakes Literary: Loved that line. So what are you working on now? Please tell me it’s another Sidra book. By the way, as your publisher, I want to say you really need to write those books faster!
Sylvia: You’re not the first person to ask me that question. As a matter of fact I am well on the way with the next book.
Great Lakes Literary: Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Sylvia: Sidra travels in this book. To Hot Springs, Arkansas. Where I happened to live for a few years. What a coincidence.
When I lived there, I discovered these three old Victorian houses, side by side, that strangely could never keep a tenant for long. The houses are now on the town’s official Ghost Tour and come with pretty spine-chilling tales. I fell in love with them. Went into one of them, but couldn’t get into the others because no one could get the locks to work – tells you something right there, doesn’t it?
I’m calling the book The Painted Ladies. Much of the early history of the houses come into play and add to the eerie vibes they give out.
Sidra takes on as a client a young woman who recently lost both her parents and later learned she’d inherited property kept secret from her all her life. Why? She wants to find out. I am excited about this work because I’m doing something very different. Sidra is the protagonist, and carries the plot, however, several chapters alternate with Sidra’s. They are written in first-person present tense … in the voice of one of the houses.
Great Lakes Literary: Quite an out-of-the-ordinary “character.”
Sylvia: That’s what is so exciting for me about writing those short chapters. “Miss Fancy” just showed up and started talking.
Great Lakes Literary: When might we expect to see it available to readers?
Sylvia: Hopefully by the end of this year or early next year. I hope to officially launch the book in Hot Springs. Those ‘ladies’ are famous there and a number of friends I left behind when we moved are waiting for the book, too.
Great Lakes Literary: Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts with us and your readers. We’ll be watching for The Painted Ladies.
For more on Sylvia Dickey Smith’s books, including those published by Crickhollow Books and Crispin Books as well as from other publishers, or to arrange author visitors or presentations for writers, visit:
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