I am pleased to welcome Sylvia Ramsey today to Alyssa Rides into Town. Sylvia was born in Missouri, and raised in a rural area. Teacher, mentor, survivor, and author, she is more than the sum of parts. Her father was born at the dawn of the twentieth century and was raised by a mother who was born in 1860. Sylvia was lucky enough to get to know her grandmother before she died. Sylvia was a born in the twilight of her parent’s lives, and this exposure to a span of three centuries has influenced her thinking, her motivation, and her outlook on life as well as her writing. She is a survivor.
Let’s say hello, Sylvia.
Alyssa: How long have you been writing?
Sylvia: I began writing newspaper articles when I was nine years old as a reporter for our 4-H club. A reporter from a local newspaper, Bob Roberts, gave workshops for writing news articles. He encouraged me to go beyond, and to write other community news articles and feature stories. By the time I was twelve years old, I was getting a monthly check for my articles.
Alyssa: How did you pick the genre you write in?
Sylvia: Actually, I did not pick a special genre, I have a story to tell, and I tell it. I guess you may say I am unclassified in that way. I have published poetry, short stories, children’s stories, and mystery/suspense. I have also had several research articles published in professional journals. Most of these are in the field of communication.
Alyssa: Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Sylvia: It depends. Sometimes, I do a little of both. I have an idea for a story. I create my main characters so that I know them very well. I have an idea of the plot, and I begin from there. As the various character come into the scene, I find that often they take over the story. Sometimes, I feel as if I am just the typist who records what is happening. The origin of the novel, An Underground Jewell, actually began with a short story. The more I was aware of what was happening to language in our society, the more I wanted to do with the story.
Alyssa: Describe your book.
Sylvia: An Underground Jewell, a mystery/suspense novel is about a woman who, because of a longevity experiment that only worked on her, has lived longer than any other person alive. She is an author who has seen the manipulation of language. She writes a short story about Christmas that incorporates her beliefs of future possibility. In the process of uploading it to the central database, she triggers an alarm that results in her being accused by the CIA of hacking the system. In order to clear herself, she must enlist her family and friends to help her. Little does she know that there is a terrorist cyber plot to control Western society.
Alyssa: I am curious, why the story in An Underground Jewell revolves around manipulation of language?
Sylvia: My study of the change in language and how it effects our perception of reality was impetus for this story. This manipulation of language escalated after the Korean War. Since that time, there is doublespeak in all areas of our society, and the push for politically correctness has gone beyond to create a reality of what never was.
Alyssa: Was this your first novel?
Sylvia: Yes, this is my first novel. When I started it, it was story that evolved into something beyond what I had imagined. However, my first book was a book of poetry. I have had numerous stories and poetry published in literary magazines. I am now working a new novel. It is titled, Dark Crystals of Miradirth.
Alyssa: What do you know that you wished you knew before you were published?
Sylvia: Writing a novel is the easy part. Getting your work published is difficult if you are an unknown. Whether you are published by a traditional publisher or self-published, what takes the most work is the publicity and marketing.
Alyssa: What was the best writing advice someone gave you?
Sylvia: To write every day and do not ever give up on yourself.
Alyssa: What is your favorite thing about your book, An Underground Jewell?
Sylvia: It highlights the manipulation of language for power and the crimes hidden by those in control are exposed about a female sleuth. The plot has its twists and turns, and just about the time you think you know who the villains are; someone new is added to the mix.