Sylvia Dickey Smith, author of Original Cyn, describes herself as an old dog learning new tricks. Her writing career did not begin until after she retired at 62. With seven books in print, and several more on the horizon, she hasn’t slowed down yet. Her hometown is Orange, Texas, located along the swamps and bayous of southeast Texas—Cajun country.
She grew up listening to tales spun by her father of his boyhood shenanigans. Perhaps that has something to do with her easy-going, laid back, yet task oriented approach to life. Others describe her as “seeing everything and missing nothing.” Add this trait to her being a retired psychotherapist and it might help you understand why she is driven to write. To her, story not only holds society together, it also gives people something to hang onto. Through story, she says, we learn the importance of speaking truth to power, of standing in that truth, of speaking up for justice for ourselves and for others. She lives in central Texas with her husband, Bill, a retired full-bird Army Colonel.
Congratulations on the release of Original Cyn. Tell us about your book.
Thank you for hosting me. Original Cyn is about an intelligent, yet unfulfilled pastor’s wife worn down by the demands of her controlling husband and his overly critical congregation. In the midst of a struggle with inner demons that challenge her marriage, she soon faces the demons of her driven husband and those of his parishioners. It is a tale of our and foibles and flaws, the strength of the soul and magnanimity of the spirit. It is also a story about love greater than lust and redemption greater than sin.
What was your inspiration for it?
My inspiration came from a quote by Elie Wiesel, a Jewish survivor of the WWII Nazi death camps. He wrote that essential questions have no answers. How questions unite us but answers divide us. How I am your question and you are mine and with that we have dialogue. That view matched my own experience with answers given me by others that, over time, did not fit my own experiences. I wanted to write a story that demonstrated that concept. I chose a theme that has long divided our society.
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?
As the plot took shape, I found myself shoved beyond my comfort zone straight into a story that pushed boundaries, some of which were mine, years ago. A book I knew many might refuse to read — might judge me, might ostracize me. However, the story told itself. In fact, writing Original Cyn permitted me to hit a reset button in my own life. Something happened to me. It elevated a hunger to listen to my soul-voice and to carry that into future writings.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
What I hope readers will get from Original Cyn is the joy and excitement in living the questions, in contrast to thinking they hold all the answers to life’s most critical concerns, and if people disagree with them, then the other person is wrong.
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
Good question. That occurred with this book. My muse took off on her own and created a plot that at times caused me to blink, to hesitate, wondering about the reactions I might receive from people from my past. However, since I’ve learned to trust my muse, I kept going, and in the end I believe the story is authentic and lives the questions. Bottom line, I’ve learned to follow my muse, rather than force her to follow me.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?
Most definitely, I can. That is what stalling is all about. Writers are famous for stopping to dust the keyboard, check Facebook, answer an email—anything other than face the reality that the story might not take shape, and even if it does, it might not be good enough. What if I get stuck and don’t know where to go with the plot.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
What I love most about the writing life is the process of creating story. Of course, then other days, when I have no idea what happens next, I hate it. I am not a plotter. I am what in the writing world we call a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants. I’ve tried plotting, been when I do, my mind goes on holiday. Digs its heals in the dirt and refuses to budge. That can lead to days when I feel stuck. I have learned to trust those days those, and allow the process to work. The next scene will come, even if in dreamtime.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
I do. My website, which also contains my blog Writing Strong Women is at www.sylviadickeysmith.com.
Where is your book available?
Original Cyn can be purchased online at White Bird Publications, Amazon.com, B&N.com, or at fine bookstores everywhere. It is available both as trade paperback and eBook.
Author photo and cover art provided by the publicist with permission from the author.