Sylvia Stewart grew up in the (then) Belgian Congo. She spent 21 years as an Assemblies of God missionary in Malawi, East Africa, with her husband, Duane. While there, she taught some writing workshops, which are now bearing fruit. She started writing Kondi’s Quest to weave a story for the children of Malawi. In 1992 Sylvia and Duane were asked to go to Ethiopia to found a Bible College. They spent 11 years there, doing mostly Bible College ministry. Sylvia taught college-level English to students who had never taken a grammar class before. Sylvia is the mother of four children who grew up in Africa. Her eleven grandchildren are the delight of her life. Sylvia’s book was a 24-year project. Through the eyes of a Malawian girl, Kondi’s Quest shows middle-school readers that God’s love and presence is with us, even in very hard times.
We are very pleased to introduce you to Sylvia and her story:
About writing …
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
English was my favorite subject in school. Writing essays was easier for me than for my classmates. I don’t remember writing stories as a child, but I would “tell” myself stories as I lay in bed at night. I guess you could say I’ve been writing most of my life.
What book(s) has most influenced your writing?
The Nancy Drew books captured my fancy even before I was a teen. Later Zane Grey, D.E. Stevenson, Miss Read, and Mary Stewart taught me how to turn a phrase and make a story come alive.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in the morning, but that doesn’t often happen. I prefer no interruptions, but I don’t often get that either. I prefer silence for my writing time, but usually I write in the middle of the house with life going on around me. Soon I will have my own “Just Write” cabin on the back of our property. Bliss!
What was your biggest challenge in writing your book?
Lack of confidence, hands down. I often wonder who in the world would want to read my thoughts and my stories. But they do, and they seem satisfied with what they read.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Never give up! It took 24 years of off-and-on writing to get KONDI’S QUEST into print. I’ve recently self-published it, and it’s moving well as an e-book. Paperback, not so much. The first draft wrote itself, the many re-writes put the polish on it that made the story sing. I didn’t count the number of re-writes for KONDI’S QUEST, but there must have been 15 or so.
About you …
What do you like to do when you are not writing (other than reading, of course)?
Mostly I’m writing, reading or doing housekeeping. I used to do a lot of handwork, but that’s fallen off lately.
Can you share something that is happening in your life that would surprise us?
My husband has just finished a writing cabin for me. It’s red and white on the outside with a slate walkway to the flowers by the door. Inside is knotty-pine bead board. A wide window by my desk will overlook a waterfall. I love the sound of trickling water. Internet access goes in this week!
Do you have any unique talents besides writing?
I used to sing and play the piano and organ. Kind of lost my touch with age. I’m 74.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I hope to publish Book Two—KONDI’S JOY–of the Mysteries in Malawi series In August. Book Three, KONDI’S SECRET, will be released at the beginning of winter.
Quick hits …
Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
I’d love to meet award-winning Irene Hannon, a contemporary romantic suspense author. Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels have been favorites for years, and I reread them often.
What book are you currently reading?
I’m rereading Mary Stewart’s MY BROTHER MICHAEL at the moment. It’s set in Greece. I recently finished reading a fascinating contemporary romantic suspense novel: THE UNRELENTING TIDE, by Lynnette Bonner. It’s the first of the Islands of Intrigue San Juan series. The second in the series, TIDE WILL TELL, by Lesley Anne McDaniel is equally fascinating. I much prefer a paper copy, but I do use an e-reader at times.
Who designed your latest book cover?
KONDI’S QUEST’s cover art was drawn by my granddaughter, Tori Hastings. You can find her on Facebook at: Tori Hastings
My daughter, Lynnette Bonner, designed the cover and formatted the interior of the novel.
Her site is: Lynnette Bonner.
She has reasonable prices.
What is your favourite quote?
“Words are like sunbeams; the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” – Robert Southey
Where can new fans follow you?
The setting for this story is Malawi, East Africa. It not only presents a fun mystery for preteens, it also shares a lot of Malawian culture and lifestyle, making it a great book for homeschoolers.
All she longs for is her father’s love. Kondi, a 12-year-old Malawian girl, is sure her father, Bambo, doesn’t love her. He seems to care more about the secret brown envelope he carries with him everywhere than his own daughter. She’s convinced things will improve, though, when her mother’s baby arrives. Then one night Bambo beats Mai in a drunken rage, and neighbors rush her off to the hospital. Will Mai and the baby live? Will Kondi be sold off by her uncle Kakama to a rich man to be his third wife? And what could possibly be in Bambo’s brown envelope? The secrets are about to be revealed. A beautiful coming-of-age story-of love, betrayal, and forgiveness that you won’t soon forget.
Words on a Limb would like to thank Sylvia Stewart for sharing her story. We wish you much success with future Kondi books and we encourage our readers to give Kondi’s Quest a read. Enjoy your writing cabin Sylvia, it was a pleasure to meet you!