This year, we have two Page Turner champions – one in fiction (see Meghan Andersch’s interview here) and one in nonfiction (Nicki Jeffery’s interview is here), along with a runner up in each category. Join interviewer Joanne Sher as we learn more about fiction runner-up Sylvia Young.
JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on being the runner up in the Fiction Page Turner Contest! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?
SYLVIA YOUNG: Let me first say that this contest was very important to me. I believed it would confirm whether or not I should focus on writing as a long-term career goal. I have been a short story ghostwriter for nearly two years now, and I thought that if I won, it would be a sign to turn my attention to writing novels.
When I saw that I was the runner up, my heart did a funny kind of flip-flop, and I felt a little lightheaded. Coming in second is winning to me, and so I believe that this is the sign from God that I was looking for!
JOANNE: Fascinating how God speaks to us, isn’t it? When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?
SYLVIA: I started writing stories from about the age of 9 or 10. I remember a teacher telling me how much he enjoyed my story (I even remember the plot!) and that he was looking forward to reading more of my work. This kind of situation was repeated a few more times throughout my school years.
SYLVIA: I have wanted to write for many years, but only just started two years ago. Now, I am fully committed to making it a lifelong career.
JOANNE: You are quite a go-getter, it seems. Share a bit about The Long Lost Son. Where did you get the idea for it? What is the genre? What is the story about? How far along in it are you?
SYLVIA: You might laugh, but it really did come to me in a dream. I remember waking up and thinking, “That was so cool!” I immediately wrote down the major points and sketched out the details later that day.
It is historical fiction, about a young girl who makes a rash, yet sincere decision when she’s young and spends the next fifteen years trying to piece her life together. The story starts before the Civil War. There will be some reference to the war, but most of the focus will be on Lizzie’s life, her growing faith, and the Underground Railroad.
So far, I’ve written the first three chapters, but I believe I can finish it over the next six months with the right motivation, and this recognition is surely it.
JOANNE: Sounds intriguing! How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?
SYLVIA: After my three children were all in school full-time, I asked my husband to give me a year to see if I could make a living writing. I was looking for information online and came across Karen Kingsbury’s website. She advised novice writers to find a site to connect with other Christian writers, and I can’t remember if she mentioned you directly, but I found you nonetheless!
I first entered the writing challenge in February 2015, and my piece received first place in the beginner’s category. To me, that was confirmation that I was supposed to be writing, but I think what really made me love the site is the encouragement I receive from other writers. Of course, I greatly value the reports from Deb Porter as well!
JOANNE: There are some amazing encouragers here at FaithWriters – Deb included! What kinds of books or genres do you prefer to read and/or write?
SYLVIA: I enjoy historical fiction with a touch of romance (what I’m intending my book to be), Amish fiction, inspirational fiction and classical fiction, but will pick up a lighthearted Christian romance from time to time as well. My favorite author is Lynn Austin, and I hope that one day my novels will be as inspiring as hers.
JOANNE: Those are some of my favorites too – especially the historical and inspirational. Tell us about your family.
SYLVIA: I’ve been married for nearly nineteen years and have three children ages fifteen, thirteen and seven. God has truly blessed me!
JOANNE: Sounds like a great group you’ve got there. What are your other passions besides writing?
SYLVIA: I am an ESL teacher by trade and truly enjoy it. I recently started volunteering at my church teaching adults who are new to Canada, and that’s a wonderful experience. I also love a good movie or television series!
JOANNE: Where can people find you online?
SYLVIA: Right now I’m only on Facebook, but I’m planning to start a blog in the very near future. (Just as soon as my daughter has the time to show me how!)
JOANNE: Kids definitely have a better grasp of technology than we grown-ups do. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
SYLVIA: It took me a long time to begin my writing career, but I can now see that was God’s plan. I have been in the ESL industry for twenty years, during which I learned a good many things about writing, not the least of which were grammar and punctuation! This was not wasted time. My writing is stronger because of it.
I would like to be able to support myself with my writing, but even more importantly, I want to inspire people to draw nearer to Jesus. If I can do that, I will consider my writing a great success.
JOANNE: And I have no doubt that, with God’s direction, you will go far. Thanks so much for sharing with us and congratulations once again!
Watch for an interview with the nonfiction Page Turner Runner up Sherri Stone here on the blog in the next week or so.