Interview with debut mystery author Sylvia Sarno

Today’s special guest is Sylvia Sarno
to tell us a little bit about her writing life, and particularly her new novel,
Sufficient Ransom.
I was a child I’ve been fascinated with stories. When I was about six
years old, my father started reading classic stories to me and my sisters at
bedtime. He read (in a theatrical way that kids love) Gulliver’s Travels and a
number of Shakespeare’s plays, simplifying the language and
condensing the stories so that we could understand them. When I got
older, I considered a career as a writer. But the thought of writing a
book seemed so arduous to me, though I loved to read and discuss them. I wanted
to work in business. In college, I majored in English because I loved the
subject. I planned to learn about business by working in companies,
not by studying them. After working in commercial real estate, investment
banking, and in my own recruiting firm for years, I decided I really wanted to
write novels.
Welcome, Sylvia. Please tell us about
your current release.
is a
mystery/thriller about a mother’s hunt for her missing child. Searching for her son, Ann Olson throws caution to the wind.
Soon, she finds herself enmeshed in the seedy world of Mexican drug dealers who
operate just across the border in Tijuana. Does Ann, an atheist, embrace
Christianity despite her husband warning that her pastor friend is more
interested in converting her than in finding her son? Does she make it out of
the drug tunnel alive, or is her rashness her downfall? And is her son’s
disappearance related to that of other recently missing children in San Diego?
A story of a mother’s love, courage in the face of evil, and her unexpected
journey of self-discovery along the way.
inspired you to write this book?
When I was a child living in Turin, Italy in the
1970’s, there was much talk of kidnapping. The heir to a business fortune had
been kidnapped in Rome. My parents talked about the situation a lot in front of
me and my sisters (maybe they shouldn’t have because it is a scary subject). We
were attending an American school and many of my classmates came from wealthy
families. Some of the children were driven to school by their bodyguards. Years
later, those fearful emotions came back to me and inspired Sufficient Ransom.
against Travis in the hotel bed, Ann checked her phone again. She had left Richard
several messages and emails urging him to return home early from Hong Kong.
Terrified Kika would make good on her promise to take Travis, she couldn’t
stand the thought of the next days without her husband. It was nearly midnight
and he still hadn’t responded. She imagined his days and nights were jam-packed
with meetings, as usual.
Richard’s heavy travel schedule lately, she and Travis were alone much of the
time. It seemed more so since the whole CPS thing started. Ann knew she had to
find a new school for her son. She had interviewed a few prospective places,
but she wasn’t in any hurry after the disaster of the last school. She
cherished their leisurely meals together, their playtime, and visiting all
their favorite places, like they used to do when Travis was very small.
Travis had
been born four weeks early—small and helpless. Nothing she had read in the
books prepared Ann for the awe she felt in the presence of this perfect little
person whom she and her husband had created. Terrified something would happen
to him, she didn’t take Travis out of the house for the first two months of his
life. On their inaugural outing, fearing an accident, she admonished her
husband to drive slowly. When they arrived at their destination, an Italian
restaurant in Del Mar, she had clutched Travis in his car seat as she ran for
the door, afraid the hot sun would burn his delicate skin.
When the
waitress bent down to take a look at Travis, sleeping in his seat, Ann threw a
blanket over him, fearful germs would somehow reach him. “I’m sorry,” she said
to the startled woman. “I’m a little nervous. You see. It’s his first time
out.” The waitress, a mother herself, understood, as did the many others whose
eager hands Ann had gently turned away. The world, women especially, love to
touch a baby. As Travis grew, she relaxed more. But that feeling of
vulnerability remained.
exciting story are you working on next?
My second novel is loosely based on a
real-life conflict that occurred in World War II Italy. I am excited about this
project because it has enabled me to explore my southern Italian heritage. The
rise of fascism is an eye-opening and captivating subject. I’ve always been
fascinated by how average people survive in a totalitarian society. The Italian
variety under Mussolini was unique in so many ways. Reading about the ingenious
ways people devised to cope with the crazy stuff the elite foisted on them has
made me appreciate the Italian people all the more.
did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I sold my first book to a
you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do
other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write while my kids are in school.
When they’re not in school, I spend my time with them and on other tasks like
cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. So I guess I would say that I write part-time
and am a housewife the rest of the time.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I prefer being completely alone in the
house to write. People noises (voices, talking) distracts me and sets me day
dreaming. I wear earmuffs when others are around.
a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I’ve
always been fascinated by people. I wanted to help those with problems.
additional you want to share with the readers?
I like to eat, at restaurants
especially. And I have a sweet tooth that I try—and often fail—to curb. Italian
pastries are my favorite. I think I’m addicted to chocolate. I can’t have just
one piece—I have to eat the whole bar!

Thank you so much for the opportunity
to address your readers, Lisa. I’ve enjoyed it!

It’s been my pleasure, Sylvia. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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