Saturday, December 18, 2021

Sylvie Perry

Sylvie Perry is the pseudonym of a Chicagoland-based psychotherapist. One of her professional focuses is in counseling survivors of narcissistic manipulation. She has a Masters in English. She previously wrote in another genre under a different pseudonym.

Perry's new book is The Hawthorne School, her first psychological suspense novel

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title, The Hawthorne School, came at almost the same time as the concept for a beautiful, progressive school that hides a dark danger.

What's in a name?

Claudia Vera is my main character. I don’t expect the reader to consciously know this, but I had fun knowing that Vera means “truth” and Claudia means “lame one.” She arrives with her little son at the school when she is so disabled by grief that she cannot see the reality of the school. Her challenge is to discover the truth before the end of the story.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self would say, “Far out!” because that’s what we said back then. She hoped she would someday write books, and she’d be “digging” this.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Definitely endings! The beginning arrives as a gift from I-know-not-where. I have to do my own work to get to the ending. And certainly, I write many possible endings before hitting on the right one. And that’s with the help of my agent and my editor.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Claudia is a lot like me as a young mother: wanting to parent perfectly, and worried that everyone was judging me. I really felt the weight of my responsibility as well as the disadvantage of my inexperience.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

The college I went to was Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. The architecture of the buildings is in the gothic style, and I have always loved it. I had that campus in mind for the physical Hawthorne School. I also visited a Waldorf school which was completely enchanting: I loved the philosophy and the aesthetics and felt that I would have loved such a school for my own children when they were small. Both of these schools are positive, wonderful places. The sinister overlay is all my own.
Visit Sylvie Perry's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Hawthorne School.

--Marshal Zeringue