Sydney Salter’s writing career started with keeping a high school diary, but she now finds it even more exciting—and far less traumatic—to make stuff up. Her novels include My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters, Jungle Crossing, and Swoon at Your Own Risk. Sydney lives in Utah with her husband and assorted dogs and cats. When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, working as a small claims court mediator, and traveling absolutely anywhere.
More About Sydney
I didn’t always want to write—as a child I wanted to be a marine biologist so I could hang out with whales. The only creative story my mother kept from my childhood is called My Fish Book. I loved science and collected tadpoles from the pond near my home in Vermont. My dad was a Biology professor and let me keep some of his white lab mice as pets. Later when we moved to Palm Desert, California, I practically lived outdoors, swimming, roller skating, and riding my bike into the desert with my friends. Sometimes we’d see coyotes.
After my parents divorced, I moved to Reno, Nevada with my mother, little brother, and three cats (our fourth cat refused to come!). My middle school years passed in a blur of body changes and boy-craziness. I wanted to be a fashion designer, one that didn’t have to draw or sew (that’s kind of a problem). I didn’t really shine as a student. For one thing, I refused to wear my glasses, so I couldn’t see the board very well (how stupid was that?).
I began keeping a daily diary my sophomore year at Reno High School (go Huskies!). I wish I’d been inspired by a wonderful English teacher, an amazing novel, or my desire to become a writer. But it was a boy—a certain tall, blond, football player, who barely knew I was alive.
Keeping a diary got me writing, but not in a creative, literary way. I didn’t write poems, make up stories, or describe beautiful sunsets. I obsessed about tall, blond boys, complained about my mother, my annoying brother, and recorded my antics with my friends. But I did it every single day. I didn’t know I was becoming a writer.
I did have two wonderful teachers who influenced me. Mrs. Muth allowed me to take a senior level English class as a junior. She told me I could write, but I didn’t believe her. I started wanting to write and that scared me. What if she were wrong? What if I really couldn’t do it? Then what? I didn’t really want to be anything else.
I also joined the yearbook staff; I edited the sports section (access to tall, blond boys). My advisor, Mrs. Forest also complimented my writing. And then we went to a journalism conference in Tucson, Arizona (my birthplace, by the way). Out of hundreds of students, I won third place in a writing contest. Me! My friends and I also took first place in a put-the-panties-on-the-goat contest, beating out some Texas cowboy-types. But I’d been singled out for my writing. My dreams started to grow a little…
I signed up for creative writing my freshman year at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. But the class was full and they put me in Biology instead. That turned out okay—because of a certain, tall, dark, soccer-playing boy… I never did take that creative writing class in college, but I majored in English, with a minor in Biology.
After college, I found myself living in Seattle, working as a temp, and dating a very busy tall, dark, soccer-playing medical student. So I signed up for a creative writing program at the University of Washington and proceeded to write some awful stories. But I loved it! I filled notebooks and notebooks with practice writing.
I decided to write my first novel when I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah with my even busier medical resident husband. I dug into researching an historical novel. But I got so scared about failing at my dream of becoming of a real writer that I signed up for history classes at the University of Utah instead. I completely stopped writing fiction, but kept writing in my diary.
My daughters gave me the courage to return to fiction writing. We were taking a family vacation to Mexico and I wanted my girls to know something about Mayan culture. Again, I dug into the research, but this time I set a writing deadline (so I wouldn’t go and take a bunch archeology classes). I loved creating fiction! If I made a mistake or wrote something stupid, I realized I could change it. Not like when I made a mistake or said something stupid as a mom. My daughters weren’t quite old enough to read Jungle Crossing, but I was hooked! I kept writing. My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters came from some of the experiences recorded in my high school diaries. Swoon at Your Own Risk was inspired by having my psychologist mom move in with us. I like to write stories that help me learn something new about myself or the world.
I love spending my days at my messy desk working on novels, and drinking lots of tea, while my dogs watch me and my cats sleep. I also love reading, hiking, skiing, cooking, going to movies and rock concerts, and traveling absolutely anywhere!
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.