I am very pleased to interview Sylvia Stewart today! A godly woman who has led an interesting life with so many wonderful experiences, I know readers will love her new book, KONDI'S QUEST. Let's begin with her bio:
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. In 1992 they were asked to go to Ethiopia to found a Bible College. They spent 11 years in Ethiopia doing mostly Bible College ministry. She taught college-level English to students who had never taken a grammar class before.
Sylvia has been published in Assemblies of God denominational magazines: The Pentecostal Evangel (now Today’s Pentecostal Evangel); Advance (now Enrichment); Woman’s Touch, and their missions magazine, Mountain Movers, which is no longer in print. She has also been published in WASI Writer, a writer’s magazine published under the auspices of the University of Malawi. She wrote under contract with Network211.com, a Christian website, for a year and a half.
Sylvia’s book, Kondi’s Quest, was published in August 2011, after she worked on it for 24 years. Kondi’s Quest is a novel for middle-school readers. It shows that God’s love and presence is with us, even in very hard times.
Welcome, Sylvia. What are some things you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
I crochet, needle-point, and do hand crafts.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
The first sample of my writing that is still intact was from the 6th grade. I’ve always loved a good story and read a lot. Our tiny town library was great fodder for my hunger for a good book. I think the desire to write starts with a fascination with reading a great story.
I agree with that sentiment. In order to be a good writer, one probably has to enjoy reading! By the way, how many books have you written, and what are their titles?
KONDI’S QUEST is my first book. However, I’ve written numbers of articles in Assemblies of God periodicals. Also, for a year and a half I wrote under contract for Network211.com, the A/G’s website.
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
They say, “Write what you know.” I lived and worked in Malawi for 21 years, so it seemed natural to produce a novel set in Malawi.
I received that same advice, so when I began writing, I wrote about my family as well.
One question I like to ask other authors is: What was your greatest obstacle in writing, and how did you rise above it?
My greatest obstacle in finishing KONDI’S QUEST was the distance between where I lived in Africa and the U.S. publishers I wanted to accept my book. Back then, when everything was sent by mail, sending return postage from a small African country was almost impossible.
How has writing changed your life?
My house isn’t nearly as clean as I would like it to be! Also, I’d rather interact with family and friends more than I do – if I just didn’t have to spend so much time at the computer.
Oh, I know whereof you speak! We seem to have the desire for a cleaner house and more time with family and friends in common, I see.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
I couldn’t say just one scripture text. I was raised in a godly home where scripture was read and prayers were said on a daily basis. I’ve loved and memorized scripture texts since I was small. My life verse is: “You . . . are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts,” (II Cor. 3:3 NIV).
Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?
There would be too many songs to count. I love the old hymns. Probably my favorite hymn, though, would be,“Great is Thy Faithfulness.” God has been very good to me.
As to movies, I love the Jane Austen movies: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion. She knew how to write a great romance story.
Who is your favorite author?
Again, there are many. I love D.E. Stevenson’s novels. Also Miss Read’s books about English country life. Mary Stewart, another English writer, writes a wonderful suspense novel. (The English writers were easily accessible in Africa.) We have a collection of Louis L’Amour books – saving them for our son. As for favorite current writers: Angela Elwell Hunt and Francine Rivers. Also, our daughter, Lynnette Bonner, is an up-and-coming new writer. Her historical romance series, The Shepherd’s Heart series, is just coming out with OakTara. ROCKY MOUNTAIN OASIS is already in print. HIGH DESERT HAVEN will come out in a few days. Hopefully, FAIR VALLEY REFUGE and SPRING MEADOW SANCTUARY will be in print by Mother’s Day.
What are some interesting places you’ve lived/visited?
We’ve been privileged to travel quite a bit, mostly between Africa and home. However, our travels in Africa have to be the most memorable. We’ve been in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland.
What’s one zany thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve ridden a camel a couple of times; once when I visited in Egypt with my parents when I was a girl, and once in Ethiopia, where we worked for 11 years. And anyone who’s lived in Africa for very long will have eaten some strange things: fried flying ants, wild African game meat, sun-dried fish, etc.
I'm sure our readers will find those things quite out of the ordinary. I am fascinated :).
Since you've written your book about Africa, please tell us about the featured book.
KONDI’S QUEST is a story for pre-teens. It tells the story of a young Malawian girl who has one desire – to win the love of her alcoholic father. She has many adventures in her quest, and also finds out, in the midst of all her troubles, that her heavenly Father loves her. The story was told as true to the culture as I could make it, so adults find the glimpse of an African culture and way of life interesting, too.
Here is your golden opportunity: what would you wish to say to your readers?
God loves you! Others may seem not to, but He loves you. No matter what you’re going through, no matter what wickedness you may have done, He’s with you, loving you and helping you each day.
Wonderful advice, Sylvia.
Include your links so readers can find you on the internet.
I urge everyone to get a copy of KONDI'S QUEST! Thank you for being here today, Sylvia. It has truly been my pleasure.