Sunday, December 16, 2012

Her Sister's Keeper by Sydell Voeller: Interview and Excerpt



At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

I'm not sure there was any one exact "point" because I truly believe there was always a writer inside of me trying to get out.  But there was indeed one big event in my life that served as a catalyst.  When our youngest son was only 3, we learned he had an uncommon hip disease which required a round of hospitalizations, x-rays, traction, and finally two major surgeries.  During that time I started keeping a journal—something I hadn’t done since high school.  Naively, I suppose, I believed the world might want to know about the ordeals I’d experienced, so I started sending off excerpts from my journal to various women’s magazines.  Meanwhile, I’d been reading writer’s journals to discover potential new markets for the manuscript and unexpectedly came across an article about how to write young adult romances.  Thinking back to the journal I’d kept in high school, I realized I had a treasure trove of inspiration.  And that’s how it all started.  My first YA romance was never accepted for publication, but number two manuscript and all the others that followed were!


Has someone been inspirational in inspiring you as a writer?


Yes.  That person was my father, without a doubt.  He was always so supportive and proud of my accomplishments throughout my entire life.  Also, since I was a “Lowell” (my maiden name), he often reminded me that I came from a long heritage of well-known writers.  Unfortunately he passed away before he could see my first book in print, but during my last visit with him in the hospital, he said, “Someday you will be a successful writer.” 


Does travel play in the writing of your books? 


Yes, local travel is very important to the settings for my books. Nearly all of them are set in the Pacific Northwest.  Since my husband, kids, and I have spent time vacationing throughout the Northwest, plus Canada and California, I model many of the fictitious towns in my books after real places.  I’ve often used settings portraying the Oregon beaches, the high desert of central Oregon, the local forests and mountains, plus the beautiful San Juan Islands in Washington State.  We also make yearly visits to South Carolina to visit family, so I’m making mental notes about the landscape there—and I have lots of photographs.  So who knows?  My son’s rustic riverside home and the surrounding wooded countryside might show up in a future book!


Who has been the hardest to convince you are serious about your craft?


At one point in my writing career, I worked part-time in nursing.  I was frequently asked to “fill in” for someone else, in addition to my own assigned hours.  Though I usually said yes, there were other times—especially when I was on a deadline—when I’d have to grit my teeth and explain that I was sorry, but I had to work at my “other job.”  Everyone in the clinic understood I was a writer, but I still doubt that many took my writing seriously—even though by that time, I’d had books published in the U.S. and Germany. 


What group did you hang out with in high school?


Not surprisingly, I hung out with the school newspaper and drama crowd.  I worked for two years as the associate editor of our high school newspaper, plus the editor of the creative writing magazine.  One of my best memories, however, centers on the summer our drama group put on A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream at the outdoor amphitheater behind our town’s city hall.  It was a blast!  In fact, I wrote my very first teen romance based on that summer.


What has brought you the greatest joy in seeing your dream of publishing fulfilled?


My greatest joy is being able to help and encourage other new writers.  (For several years now, I’ve worked as an instructor for a long-distance learning writing program.)

Writing is truly one of the most difficult jobs, in my opinion, and because I’ve achieved some personal publishing credibility, I’m happy to help others break into print too. 

Logan Corbett, registered nurse, suddenly becomes the guardian of her 10-year-old sister, Kim. A former prizewinning gymnast, the girl was seriously injured in the same plane accident that killed their parents. Logan admits she's overly protective of Kim, but only wants what she thinks is best for her. Dr. Zachary Dellinger, a pediatrician at the hospital where Logan works, suggests that Kim should attend a summer camp for children with special needs. Logan agrees, but on one condition--that she will volunteer to be the camp nurse so she can keep a close eye on Kim. Under starlit skies and breezy summer days, Logan struggles with her growing attraction to the handsome pediatrician--all the while, battling the urge to hold on too tightly to Kim. Will Logan ever be able to let go enough to allow love into both their lives?

"Her Sister's Keeper is a wonderful story of sisterly love and devotion. Delightfully written characters are a key part of this believable and enticing tale...a highly recommended read for contemporary romance readers..."
-Penny, Fallen Angel Reviews

A wonderful tale of the ability not only of the adult, but definitely for the children to survive life's foibles. You will gain a better understand of overcoming adversities whether you are young or old.
--Rendezvous Magazine


Prior to this scene, Dr. Dellinger has encouraged Logan to allow her little sister to attend a summer camp for children with physical disabilities.  Logan is hesitant, battling her propensity to be overprotective, but Kimberly pleads with her: 


"Oh, yes!" Kimberly’s eyes were bright with excitement. She turned to Logan. "May I go, Sissie? Please?"
Logan's mouth dropped open. This was certainly the last thing she'd expected. "But next week is so soon," she stammered. "I mean, there is shopping to do . . . things to get ready . . . and all those name labels to sew on."
"I can do that!" Kimberly insisted. "I can write my name on the labels, maybe even sew them, too." She giggled—her first indication of happiness Logan had witnessed in months. "Remember last summer—before the accident—how Mom promised me I could go to Girl Scout overnight camp when I was a year older! Who cares if this is another kind of camp? It's probably more fun anyway. And besides . . . those labels aren't any big deal. Marcie told me last summer during one of our sleep-overs that before she went to Girl Scout camp, her mom glued them onto her clothes."
Despite her misgivings, Logan joined in with Dr. Dellinger's laughter. She liked the way he laughed. Sort of deep and mellow with a nice warm ring.
"We'll talk about it, Kim," Logan said at last. "We'll talk about it later after we've had a little more time to think things over." She knew she was stalling, but she needed more time. Checking her watch, she added, "Now if you two will excuse me. It's nearly seven and time for report."
Turning to walk back out the door, she felt Dr. Dellinger's hand on her shoulder. His touch made her heart race. "So you will get back to me?"
She tossed a glance over her shoulder, then swallowed hard. "Yes. Yes . . . I will. I'll have my answer in twenty-four hours."

Sydell Voeller grew up in Washington State, but has lived in Oregon for over thirty years. Throughout her twenty-year writing career, her published novels for teens and adults have reflected her love for the Pacific Northwest’s ocean beaches, inlets and waterways, evergreen forests, and mountains. Sydell resides in Oregon with her husband. They married in 1971 and have two sons.
Pet lovers, the Voellers have provided a home for several cats, a dog, gerbils, hamsters, and a turtle--but not all at the same time! A small rodent cemetery still occupies one corner of their backyard. She and her husband enjoy camping, reading, playing Scrabble, day trips to the Oregon coast, and spending time with their granddaughter and pampered feline.

When Sydell isn't writing, she enjoys camping, walking, amateur astronomy, reading, and surfing the web. In 1987 after the publication of her first novel, she was named by the Washington County Mushaw Center, Woman of the Year in Communications.
Formerly a registered nurse, Sydell now teaches writing correspondence courses, sponsored by the Long Ridge Writer’s Institute (a home study course in writing short stories and articles) in West Redding, Connecticut.
Blog  |  Website  |  Amazon



Susan Macatee said...

Wonderful interview, Sydell! And your book sounds great! Best of luck with it!

Loretta C. Rogers said...

I enjoy interviews. It's a great way to find out about other authors. Book sounds interesting.

Ann Herrick said...

I've read Her Sister's Keeper--it's a wonderful book!

And I know what Sydell means about part-time jobs. They always want you to work more hours and they aren't always totally understanding about writing--the *other* job!

Jeanine said...

I started writing when my son was sick too. I needed to do something with my brain. Nice interview!

Cara Marsi said...

I've read "Her Sister's Keeper" and loved it. A really heartwarming book. Nice interview. I feel like I know you a little better now, Sydell.

Joan Hall Hovey said...

Great page, Laurie, love the graphics, and a wonderful interview with Sydell.


JL Walters said...

Nice Interview and I have read the book and found it very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Nice interview. It's nice to know a little more about Sydell. I've read the book featured here and highly recommend it.

Sandy Cody said...

"Anonymous" above is me. Not sure what I didn't do to make my name come through.

Norma Davis Stoyenoff said...

Norma Davis Stoyenoff said...
I thought the interview was great, and although I haven't had a chance yet to read "MY SISTER'S KEEPER," I certainly intent to.
I've read other books by Sydell and I've never been disappointed.

Norma Davis Stoyenoff said...

I loved the interview and I definitely plan on reading "My Sister's Keeper." I've never yet been disappointed by one of Sydell's books.

Norma Davis Stoyenoff said...

You can tell I really liked it, can't you, Sydell? I don't know what happened, either. My first comment didn't go through, so I did it again, and again, and...

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sydell,
Wonderful interview. My Sister's Keeper is another one of your great works.



Lisabet Sarai said...

Great interview, Sydell,

I'm from the Northeast US myself and have only visited the Pacific Northwest once or twice, but it's absolutely gorgeous country.

I love the premise of My Sister's Keeper. So much heart!