Friday, January 11, 2013

Sydney West by Rebecca McKinsey: Interview: PUYB Tour Stop


Sydney West is a tall, pale stranger who collapses in the middle of a busy coffee shop, later waking in the hospital as an amnesiac. He immediately exhibits impressive observation and memory skills, along with a number of eccentricities. His new acquaintances don’t know what to think of him as his paranoia mounts and inconsistencies build around him.

In RE-learning about himself, he finds he has great difficulty in making friends, learns that he detests coffee and loves tea, and that suddenly he can play one song on the piano like a master. One song, and no others. Couldn’t this all be within the realm of “normal” with his amnesia? Certainly, he tries to convince himself. But ghosts of memory rise into his subconscious, and he has the intense feeling of someone physically being by his side when there is no one there. Fleeting memories take residence in the back of his recollection that he can’t quite get a grasp of, and when he starts to connect information, the sound in his head causes such extreme pain that he can’t think straight. Yes, there may be darker forces that have caused his memory loss, and may be planning further harm.

He is determined to piece together his history and find out who is manipulating his present, while trying to determine friend from foe, a task that seems impossible to accomplish, especially since it seems that some clues may be pointing to him as the manipulator.

Sydney West is a tale of mystery, suspicion, sarcasm, used books, and Earl Grey tea.

Welcome!  I appreciate this opportunity to host you today on my blog, and am excited to find out a little about you. Thanks for stopping by. How did you start your writing career?

That’s a tricky question. It’s more than just a start date or even a range of dates. I decided to be an author when I was eleven, spent the next seven or eight years on my first project at the same time studying what that job meant and what I needed to know. As for the work on the actual project and getting my career off the ground, it was all in the learning combined with hard work, knowing the difference between getting tired and resting and getting tired and doing things anyway.


When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I usually write at night, simply because it has less distractions. I don’t have a set length of time, but usually try to hit my word count goal. It’s often overshot, depending on how well it’s going.


How do you describe your writing style?

Somewhere between realism and surrealism. I try to be logical, of course, but see the world in a very stylized way, at the same time as the details. I see my writing style as a sort of combination of dark and light – black business shoes with rainbow socks.


What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

It’s probably the combination of things like in the last question. I’ve been told by people who’ve only read my fantasy work that they expected me to be much more energetic, because the story is so action-packed. I can be, just like I can sometimes match the tone of my darker mystery work, but I still think people would be surprised. I’m a live wire in a lead box.


How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

It often starts with the tiniest seed of an idea. I’m no good with plants, but good at growing small sparks of inspiration. I love research and learning, as well as asking questions. Plots start guiding themselves when you know how to ask good questions, and characters almost develop themselves when you do the same thing. Characters are best developed when you can treat them like real people. If I’m in a shop, I think, “Oh, _____ would love that,” and that character takes a step forward in my mind. If there’s a blank in my plot I don’t know how to fix yet, I go do something real to get my mind working. If the blank is a scene at a library, I go to the library. If it’s in the park, I’d go to the park. It makes it more real and, therefore, more easily figured out.


Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?

All the time. I consider myself a million different characters wrapped up in one body, and not always to my compliment. Most of them are crazy in one way or another, as well.


What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

That would depend on a person’s definition of “sane.” To remain stable and do good work, a person needs to find the balance of listening to people who take them seriously, ignoring people who don’t want to help but talk anyway, and a certain amount of personal confidence that keeps them at work and constantly learning and developing. The key is to keep moving.


Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it?  If so, can you share it?



         In the corner of his eye, he saw the computer screen turn black.

    He didn't think anything of it until a row of white text typed itself out at the top.

    "Feeling better, are we?"

    Without missing a beat, Sydney spoke back as he pulled a box of sugar cubes from the cabinet. "I am not, thanks."

    Montresor's words vanished, and he had typed the first two letters of something else, but Sydney ignored the coming sentence and shot one of his own back at the webcam.

    "Why are you here?" he hissed.

    The first two letters vanished. The screen was black for at least thirty seconds. The sentence typed out in a burst. "To keep you company."

    Sydney nearly dropped the cup. He set it down carefully and wiped the hot drops of liquid off his pants. "And what makes you think I need company?"

    The last sentence stayed there. Sydney watched the sugar cubes disappear at the bottom of the tea. An idea slowly took shape. The photo of the University really was to get Jacob out of the room. Was it luck that M was here, now, when Jacob was gone, or was it something else?

    "Oh, just go away," he rasped.

    "You don't mean that."

    A strange, lightheadedness came into him. It wasn't the same feeling that came when he rolled over the back of the sofa, but made him want to sit down, which he did, in the nearest chair. Why did he have to be sick?

    "Yes, I really do, this time. Since you're obviously not here to help me out of this, I can't see any real reason you'd want to hang around except to mock me. So, go away. And you're blocking what I was working on, anyway."

    The screen went black. Sydney tapped the trackpad. Nothing happened. He tapped it a few more times, a bit more frantically. Montresor wasn't gone, just silent. He rolled his eyes. Hopefully he was just thinking of what to say, instead of just blocking Sydney's further use of the computer.

    Sydney took the opportunity to pick his tea back up. When he turned back to the screen, there was one, long line of text.

    "Never make the mistake of thinking you are alone— or inconsequential. Ignorance is voluntary and confusion is temporary. You see the world as-is, which is more than can be said for the vast populace."

    The moment he finished reading, the words vanished.

    "I'm not helping you with anything. And that," he said, getting up close to the webcam, "is as-is." He fell back in the chair, suddenly more tired.

    The screen was black for another full minute before he realized Montresor was probably gone. Sydney tapped the trackpad and the screen opened back up to a white background and colored photos. There was a picture unraveling before him on his original screen that he only had to pick back up. He was just about to, when an alarming thought crossed his mind. He pushed it away and dove back into his original train of thought, telling himself it was just a distraction.

    The thought was, "I wish Jacob was still here."


Rebecca McKinsey is a freelance novelist who also goes by the name of “Blackbird.” She is the author of the progressing Sydney West trilogy and The Storytellers series, as well as a traditional artist and artisan. She self-published her first book just after her nineteenth birthday, and hopes to instill the fiction world with an appreciation for clean literature. Or at least one other person, if that doesn’t work out.


She’s probably the one at the party talking to your cat.


Promotional links -


To purchase Sydney West, click here.

Monday, January 14
Book review and guest blogging at My Devotional Thoughts
Tuesday, January 15
Book reviewed at Review From Here
Wednesday, January 16
Book reviewed at Book Lover Stop
Thursday, January 17
Book reviewed at Read it All Book Reviews
Friday, January 18
Interviewed at Read it All Book Reviews
Book reviewed at Offbeat Vagabond
End of Tour

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