My first 16 Dreams interview goes to Michigan’s “Literary Diva” Sylvia Hubbard. And they don’t call her a diva for nothing! Not only is Sylvia the founder of the Motown Writer’s Network as well as the African-American Electronic Library Network (AAELN), she is the CEO of HubBooks Literary Services.
Sylvia is also an independent author, having written over 28 titles and counting. In addition to her role as an author and journalist, Sylvia is an experienced public speaker, having presented at conferences all across the U.S. and Canada. And that’s all while she’s busy managing over five different blogs, hosting the Michigan Literary Network Radio Show, teaching workshops, and raising her three children.
16Dreams: What year did you turn 16?
Sylvia: In 1987, I turned 16 years of age. Seems so long ago.
16Dreams: Where did you go to school?
Sylvia: During my teen years, I attended Cody High School in Detroit, Michigan.
16Dreams: What was the biggest challenge you faced at 16? How did you overcome it?
Sylvia: At the time I was in junior high. I didn’t think I was very popular at the time. I didn’t run with the popular crowd or in my day they called them cliques. While my father didn’t believe in buying into the trends and gave me hand me downs, I didn’t feel the prettiest or the smartest either. The cliques followed every fashion that was out there and could “afford” to do the other things that I couldn’t do. They even had cable at the time and video games while my father would not give me any of those things. I wanted to give into the frustration of not being able to be like the in crowd until I made a fascinating discovery right after our Easter break.
Right before Easter break I had written an article interviewing our outgoing principal and when we returned, everyone in the school had read the article; even teachers, counselors and other people from other schools. I came back to accolades of “great article,” “great writing” “wow, Sylvia.” The latter one I liked the most.
16Dreams: Was your “Sweet 16″ everything you hoped it would be? Why or why not?
Sylvia: My name was known and I realized I didn’t have to be a part of the clique or go with the flow to be popular. I just had to be myself and utilize my talents to make a difference. No it wasn’t everything I could have hoped. Every little girl wishes she had the blowout party of the year. My father coddled my older sister than he did me and she got the Sweet 16, whereas when my 16th birthday came, only my mother remembered it by calling my ten o’clock (the time I was born) that night to wish me Happy Birthday. My other family members remembered four days later and told me happy birthday. My brother thought it was hilarious no one remembered. To make up for it, my father asked me what I wanted and I asked for a Barbie doll because I usually had hand me downs. I’d never had a brand new Barbie. He bought me a Barbie doll which I still have to this day along with her dress she originally came in.
16Dreams: Who was your favorite author? Is it the same person now?
Sylvia: Actually it is. Johanna Lindsay. I’d started reading her at twelve and sinfully collected every one of her novels – even her reprints. To this day, I will spend my last dime to get anyone of her books. I’m still in love with her writing.
16Dreams: What genre did you gravitate toward in high school? Has that changed since then?
Sylvia: With Johanna Lindsay being a historical romance novelist, I really tried to be just like her, but the research was a pain in the butt to say the least. I gravitated to contemporary novels and more novels with “like me” characters in there. More African American books.
16Dreams: Where does your love of literature stem from?
Sylvia: My mother. She put all the old favorites in my hands. Shakespeare, Tolkien, Austen, even Plath starting when I was just five. She took me to libraries and museums where we would spend all day.
16Dreams: Who or what inspired you to pick up the pen?
Sylvia: My mother … again. I would lie all the time when I was six years old. I would lie just to lie. After beating me within an inch of my life (because she knew I was lying) she would make me write my lies down and tell them out loud to her again. My pain became my passion and I could not stop writing lies down. I stop telling lies and began to write all day and all night and I don’t think I haven’t stopped.
16Dreams: In your opinion, what is the best part about being a writer?
Sylvia: There are two things. One is the braingasms. When writing and in the depth of my writing, I experience a culmination of neuro-chemicals that explode and mentally levitate me to a higher plain. Plots come upon me, Red Herrings are easily dropped and my word count hits a precipice envied by others. I’m addicted to them, which is why I write every day. No other chemical in the world could equate to when creativity takes over and leads the way to a more productive day. The second thing is the accolades I get from readers when they have literally drunk every word I have written and are able to almost recollect my fiction like factual details. I love that a lot!
16Dreams: Do you have any advice you would like to give aspiring authors?
Sylvia: Writing is hard to keep doing when life gets in the way, but in those times when you feel you really don’t think you can write that’s when you need to do it the most.
So if you have ever considered pursuing your dream of becoming a writer or if you’re curious to find out why her readers call her the “Cliffhanger Queen” I encourage you to visit Sylvia’s website: http://sylviahubbard.com/. There you can check out her blog and read some of her work; including her current NaNaWriMo project in progress, Wicked Chances.