Thursday, 21 July 2011

Open House Day 51 - Sylvia Shults

I’m weird, I’ll freely admit it. Okay, yes, I know, all writers are at least a little bit weird. But horror writers are stranger than most. (I like to joke that you can always tell the horror writer in the workplace, because she’s the one sitting at the break room table reading Merck’s Manual of Infectious Diseases on her lunch break.) And when that same horror writer also writes romance, oh my, some VERY strange dynamics can develop.

I have many other hobbies besides writing, too. I make wine and cheese, I ride a motorcycle, I garden, I do lots of wild-food foraging. I’m especially fond of mulberries and elderberries, when they’re in season. Our neighbors have gotten used to the sight of me sitting on the porch swing, doing inscrutable things with small fruit, a stick of incense burning to keep the skeeters away, our two dogs sitting placidly at my feet.

Of course, even though they’re used to it doesn’t mean they LIKE it. In fact, our neighbors on both sides pretty much hate us. I have no idea why, but my husband has equally odd hobbies, and I think the combination of our comings and goings, and the fact that we lead a remarkable rich and full life without the distraction of television, just cheese them off. (Personally, I think it’s actually repressed jealousy, but what do I know?) At any rate, yes, our neighbors loathe us. We’d had our suspicions for years – the neighbors to the east never, ever talk to us, and the neighbors to the west “accidentally-on-purpose” mowed down my blackberry canes one year. But one incident in particular revealed their true feelings about us.

The neighbors to the west are an older couple, with children and grandchildren in nearly-constant residence. The kids love to swim in the pool in the backyard. (Oh yes, we’re also the only house on the block that doesn’t have a pool. Yet one more thing that sets us apart.) The kids, all of them under ten years old, think it’s the most wonderful thing in the world to shriek and splash and duck each other and NONE of them have a volume control. You know the sounds kids make when they’re playing happily, right? You also know the sounds a kid makes when he has his foot caught under a lawn mower? These kids make the lawn mower kind of screams ALL THE TIME. Super annoying.

So anyway, one summer afternoon I was out in the front yard weeding the peas underneath the cherry tree. I’d been vaguely aware that there was a running battle going on next door between a couple of the kids. I wasn’t paying much attention, because that sort of thing is constant over there. But then one of the boys ran out the front door and down the sidewalk. At the end of the walk, almost to the street, he turned and faced the house, still fuming at his sister or cousin, whomever he was squabbling with. His face was red with anger, his fists were clenched, and I could tell he was wracking his brain for the most cutting, vitriolic insult he could possibly manage to sling at the victim of his fury. He opened his mouth and let fly.

“Dirty HIPPIE!”

I stifled a snort of laughter. Children mimic their elders, and in that moment, I knew exactly what our neighbors really thought of us. I’d bet my next royalty check that those kids had grown up hearing their grandmother complaining about “those dirty hippies next door”. So when the time came to hurl insults, that’s what leaped to the kid’s mind.

So I’m a dirty hippie. I can live with that.

Sylvia Shults lives in Illinois, where the mulberries come ripe at the end of June. She picked three gallons of sour cherries from her tree this year, which are waiting to be turned into wine (when she can find the time). She is the Publicity Director for Dark Continents Publishing. She is the author of Price of Admission, a supernatural romance, and The Taming of the Werewolf, a Shakespeare mashup, both of which were released under the Dark Continents label at the World Horror Convention in 2011. She is also the author of the forthcoming humorous romance Double Double Love and Trouble, which will help launch the company’s non-horror imprint, Dark Light, on May 1, 2012. In addition to the hobbies mentioned above, she also loves listening to classical music (she has a serious weakness for Mozart, Telemann, and anything Baroque) and reading (it’s an addiction). She is a librarian and an art model for life drawing classes. She loves hearing from readers, so please feel free to visit her at any of her Facebook pages (Dark Continents, Darkheart for horror, Sparkleheart for romance, and Ghosts of the Illinois River). She can also be found at,, and, where you can learn about her other works.

No comments:

Post a Comment