Authors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…
Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.
Sylvia Maultash Warsh writes the award-winning Dr. Rebecca Temple mystery series.
Her historical novel, The Queen of Unforgetting, published in 2010, was chosen for a plaque by Project Bookmark Canada.
Best Girl, a Rapid Reads book, came out in 2012.
Joan: What have you written?
Sylvia: I wrote the Dr. Rebecca Temple historical mystery series, To Die in Spring, Find Me Again, and Season of Iron. After that I wrote an historical novel, The Queen of Unforgetting. My last book length publication was Best Girl, a Rapid Reads novella. I have also written numerous short stories, published in magazines and anthologies.
Joan: When did you start writing?
Sylvia: I was in my early twenties.
Joan: Why write mysteries?
Sylvia: I didn’t start with mysteries. I wrote 3 literary novels as a kind of apprenticeship. I had high hopes for the third one, but publishers weren’t interested. For a while I switched to stories and poetry. Finally l became practical and looked at the marketplace to see what publishers were buying and what people were reading. Mysteries were high on the list. And I loved reading them myself.
Joan: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?
Sylvia: People like to solve problems. Our lives are filled with problems we can’t resolve, so people get a sense of satisfaction when reading a mystery that by definition presents some problem for the protagonist to unravel in the course of the book or story. Mysteries bring some order into our chaotic world.
Joan: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?
Sylvia: I like to write in bed so I can spread out all my papers and see what I’ve got. I usually compose using a pen and pen, then after a few pages, type it into my computer. But my composing brain works best with a pen in my hand.
Joan: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?
Sylvia: With difficulty. I like to start writing mid morning, work through lunch, and stop around 2pm. Then I do whatever chores, etc. I can’t get out of.
Joan: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?
Sylvia: My first novel, To Die in Spring, was nominated for an Arthur Ellis. Find Me Again won the Edgar and was nominated for 2 Anthonys. Season of Iron was nominated for a ReLit Award. Project Bookmark Canada chose The Queen of Unforgetting for a plaque in Midland, Ontario, where the novel takes place.
Joan: What are you working on now?
Sylvia: I’m working on an historical novel, tentatively titled, The Book of Samuel, about a boy in 1840s Washington DC and Virginia. It has various elements in it, some coming of age, some speculative. Maybe it’s a difficult book to write because it’s a hybrid.
Joan: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Sylvia: Revise, revise, revise. Write the best book you can.
Joan: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames ?
Sylvia: Writing is a lonely business, so being part of a group of writers is a lot more fun. That it’s such a generous and accomplished group makes it especially satisfying.
Joan: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Sylvia: I’d like to thank all the Mesdames that put so much time and effort into getting our work out there. You’re a super bunch.
Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.