Sylvia Petter is an Australian based in Vienna. She writes short, long, serious, sexy and fun. Her work has been widely published and much is available on Kindle at her Amazon author page. Her debut novel is available on Kindle but will only be widely available as a paperback in April 2021. In the meantime, advance copies can be purchased at Shakespeare & Company in Vienna, or directly from Sylvia via the contact form where she blogs. For every copy she sells directly, 5 Euros go to PCs für Alle.
NM: You’ve certainly had a strange start to the year - fires raging around you this time last year and then (I’m guessing) flights cancelled due to Covid... has 2020 interrupted you as a writer or fueled creativity?
SP: Indeed. We went to Sydney to be with our daughter and her husband for Christmas and were due back mid-March when Vienna closed its airport. So, there was a fair bit of frustration with flights getting cancelled until we eventually could fly back to Vienna early July. We had to have a COVID test and in Vienna the army guys checked the paper proof that the test wasn´t older than 4 days. So, we had fires, floods and pestilence, but no locusts. Interestingly, in Sydney lockdown, I got a fair bit done – a story published in Stories of Hope to aid bushfire relief, an intro to using zoom run by the Australian Society of Authors, submission of three chapters of a work in progress to a multimedia compilation called Outer Space / Inner Thoughts edited by David Reiter of IP (Interactive Publications), Australia.
NM: Your latest book "All the Beautiful Liars" - was recently published. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
SP: I´ve been working on the substance of All the Beautiful Liars for more than twenty years and ideas on it have come out and been published as short stories. An early draft got me my agent in Australia to whom I dedicate the novel as thanks for her nurturing and support over the years before moving on to other pursuits. But it was a mentorship with the late Timothy Findley through Humber College in Toronto that helped me pull things together. Tiff said it might take twenty years to find the way to tell this story. And he was right. Working with him was a key experience on my journey as a writer.
NM: Wow - that´s a helluva journey for one book! There are elements of fantasy, history, biography, love, travel, loss ... all fluidly combined by the narrator. Now, I’m not going to ask how much was based on personal experience, but, on an emotional level, was this a difficult book to write?
SP: Yes and no. My day job in Geneva at the time allowed me “home leave” every couple of years, so Mum would see chapters of the work in progress. Before she died in 2009, she gave me the greatest gift she could give me as a writer: “We’re all dead now. Do what you like with the family history.”
NM. Amazing - and the backstory makes the book all the richer. So, let’s imagine Covid has been eradicated- are you going to travel and do a series of launches, or are you embracing the new medium of digital launches?
SP: I don´t really feel like travelling anymore, but I would like to see certain people again. I have so much to keep me in Vienna. I´m supporting PCs für Alle and their Facebook page is serializing a novella-in-flash that I´m rendering in German, inspired by their work and called Romeo und Julia in Corona. I´m also heavily involved as fiction editor for WordCity Monthly so if you or your readers have any pre-published work that might fit that you´d like to share, please consider our submission guidelines. I recently kicked off a series of conversations with writers at Arab World Books, and I´ll be reading recorded excerpts from my novel for a course conducted by the Canadian Darcie Friesen Hossack at the IHRAF workshop (International Human Rights Arts Festival) early spring. And I hope to do a proper launch at Shakespeare and Company in Vienna.
NM: What are your plans for 2021 ?
SP: In January there´ll be a piece in Women Writers, Women´s Books, my anti-fascism novelette in flash called Winds of Change will be published by a small US publisher, and there´ll also be a piece on the flash genre coming in the Spring issue of World Literature Today. And I´ll be revising another novel (on smell this time), as well as working on another novelette in flash on telepathy as the next frontier beyond telecommunications, inspired by my Geneva career in international telecommunications. So, yes. Lots to do in 2021, with some things maybe keeping me out of mischief ;).
I highly recommend All the Beautiful Liars - as mentioned, if you are in Vienna call Shakespeare and Company (Sterngasse 2) and reserve a copy and support your local business, or click on the book cover below to get to the online shop.