Updated: Feb 22, 2022
Happy Tuesday! We're talking with Erica today! She prefers to go by her pen name Sylvaine 8 but she gave me permission to call her by her first name. She lives in Dominica with her family. Erica and I met when I was a baby writer. She was practically a pro at that point. I was in awe at her writing style and the way she can manage several projects at once. I may be a mom who can multitask but I'm not a multitasking writer. Each of her books have been woven together seamlessly. Every time I read something new from her, I'm impressed. Currently, she's working on two books and beginning two more. Erica is a multi genre writer. Her books can be found on the Dreame app.
How did you get into writing?
I began with sketching my stories as a child, doodling on my dad’s prescription pad. I thought it was more of a drawing thing. However, I have always loved reading – and writing. I was my sixth-grade editor-in-chief for a school paper.
I usually write for school. For a job, I mostly wrote research stuff. It got a little serious when I started my MFA in Creative Writing. Because I live between two countries, I did not finish my MFA. I was preparing for my final defense when my parents needed my nuclear family after being robbed. They lived alone here in Dominica, so we went back to provide them company and emotional support. That ended my writing for a little while until I could write blog articles/ebooks for clients on the side. I am still a full-time teacher.
Writing for Dreame? It was not planned. I was bored and then found out that my mom reads on several apps. She kept telling me I should write for one of them, but I never told her that I had started doing so. I am writing for the platform she does not have. Lol.
What are your favorite books/authors?
Horror: Anne Rice, Stephen King
Fantasy: Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin (his short stories are amazing, too!)
Chic lit: Marian Keyes
Historical Romance: Julia Quinn, Judith McNaught
Steamy: I just discovered her since I have been reading more Romances lately. She manages to balance steam with humor and smarts, but not for everyone’s tastes, I guess, since it gets really steamy. Tiffany Reisz
Mystery: Agatha Christie, Jo Nesbo, Anthony Horowitz
Gothic: Wilkie Collins, Angela Carter (please show me people who can write wolves like her, please! – sexy, dreamlike, precise words)
The Harry Potter books, LOTR, Game of Thrones, etc.
I am into a lot of New Adult Fantasy Romances lately because that is my genre. It is both to get inspiration and make sure I am not unknowingly plagiarizing established authors.
There are so many.
What have you learned during your writing journey so far?
You don’t have to be perfect. Begin something. Put what is in your head into writing. However, make sure that is not the end of it. Continue editing, fixing, and molding. Listen to constructive criticism. Instead of being hurt by it, see it as someone concerned took you on the side and said, “Hey, you did well, but take a look at this…” That person cares enough to give you time without resorting to saying mean things.
How do you find inspiration?
I read a lot. I watch a lot of TV series and films, too.
Sometimes, it is just a matter of writing what I wish somebody else would write so I could read it.
I also do the What IF game? What if this happens? I use this technique when teaching my second-graders and my screenplay writing class (when I was still teaching college animation classes – we do both the visuals and text end of productions).
In your opinion, what does a good book consist of?
A good book follows the basic plot structure but still provides surprises along the way. It should make an emotional connection. It should let people mull it over for a long time after they are done with it.
What do you find to be the hardest part of the writing process?
Getting the time and the confidence; giving up freelance writing jobs that pay more regularly; giving up bonding time with my 12-year-old son (so sometimes I write next to him while he programs little games)
What does success mean to you?
Success means being able to meet your own expectations.
If writing required mascots, what would yours be?
A crow – since this bird features so many times in my books. Lol
It also symbolizes cleverness and adaptability while not shunning teamwork.
How do you balance staying true to your story while also giving the reader what they want?
I write what I like to read, but I also listen to the comments. I get a vibe of their expectations. I see where we could meet halfway, but so far, my readers are those who enjoy the same type of stories, anyway. A few did not like some of the decisions my characters had made, but I really cannot change a detail because of one person. However, I look at the comment objectively and see how I could improve the next story.
What is your best writing tip?
Read your stories aloud. Even act the dialogue out. lol
How did you come up with your book titles?
I did not make an effort at all. Lol. I just wanted it to be as straightforward as possible without giving up the plot. I only started taking titles seriously when I planned Judgment in Glass, where a mirror decides who plays the game of judgment with Tartarus.
What message do you hope readers take from your book?
Guys do not need to abuse women to be considered hot. They can be the most caring and the least obnoxious, handsome without fully knowing it. Men can sometimes take a step back to make women shine, too, and women can save themselves.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
It is putting my imagination out there and sharing it with others. I would often find my thoughts silly but getting feedback – good or bad – makes my characters so much more real.
What is your process for beginning a new book?
A dream/a sudden lightbulb moment scribblings on a notebook/discussion with brainstorming group a cover that makes the MCs clearer in my head chapter outline research write and sometimes abandon some parts of the storyline prepare an episode proofread/edit read again get exasperated with myself edit etc.
Describe your favorite book character.
My favorite book character? I have many. However, usually, they are the ones considered unlikely to be heroes. They are not that popular. They are introverted, more likely, or misunderstood. However, they will do what is required and perform at a level more than what is expected when given a chance.
If you could handpick a mentor for your writing, who would you choose?
Stephen King. He chose horror, which is not often considered in awards, and yet he makes his works sound literary – esp. the coming-of-age ones
Neil Gaiman because he is so cool, and his worlds just make me wish I have thought of them. I love his voice, too. It has a calming effect. I need someone to calm me down. Lol.