Posted on 11/25/2015 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Sidney W. Frost has been surrounded by literature for his entire life, but that doesn’t mean his world is confined to books.
Before he was a bestselling author, he was an award-winning professor of computer science. He’s also a veteran of 42 Austin Lyric Opera productions and a current member of the San Gabriel Chorale.
Frost’s works include the “Bookmobile” Christian novels as well as two nonfiction works. With his fifth novel now out in Kindle and paperback, he had a moment to chat with us about his varied career.
SADYE: Have you always been drawn to reading and writing?
SIDNEY: My mother was a member of the Book of the Month Club so she had access to bestsellers without having to go to the library or bookstore. She set the example and encouraged me to read.
My earliest memory of writing is when my older sister decided we would publish a neighborhood magazine. I think she was 15 and I was 12. One of my jobs was to write movie reviews.
The magazine was handwritten, and each copy was handwritten as well. So there wasn't a wide distribution, and the magazine only lasted for a summer.
SADYE: How do you make time for writing in between your extensive travels and choral groups?
SIDNEY: I've always had at least two jobs, and for 15 years I had three (although the third was as a member of the Austin Opera Chorus and we only did three performances a year). Sometimes I would work on a novel while waiting in the green room to go on stage. I think being in 45 productions gave me a better understanding of how to tell a story in acts and scenes.
I finished my first novel, “Where Love Once Lived,” in a coffee shop at Patch Barracks, a military base in Stuttgart, Germany, while visiting my stepson.
In “Love Lives On,” I included some scenes in Bruges, Belgium, because I remembered visiting there years before. My wife scheduled a cruise out of Amsterdam while I was still working on the book, and I was surprised to learn it included a stop in Bruges. I was able to update my memories and get a photo for the cover.
... Sometimes we travel and sing. In June 2015, we joined the Berkshire International choir for a performance in Ireland. Every trip gives me more information for a novel or a description of an interesting character.
SADYE: What’s the best piece of writing-related advice that you’ve received?
SIDNEY: Writing a book takes discipline. Even if you know the craft, you still have to sit down and write. What works for me is to have a deadline. I wrote my first two books while taking an online novel writing class from Writers Digest. ...
With my other books, the pressure of a deadline came in the form of agreements with fellow members of critique groups. My latest book, “Murder in Sun City,” was written with the help of two other writers here in Georgetown, Texas. We wrote 2,000 words a week and met once a week to critique each other's works.
I not only stayed on schedule with this approach, I ended up with a manuscript that had fewer errors.
SADYE: What has been your proudest/most rewarding moment as an author?
SIDNEY: My proudest moment as an author was getting my first book contract. It was a nonfiction book about computers with a limited audience (lawyers interested in automating their law offices before personal computers were available).
The royalties were not enough to compensate me for the time spent writing the book, but it meant I was an author. My father was James Michener's barber at the time. When Dad showed the famous novelist a brochure for my book, he signed it: “To Sidney. Good luck in your work. James A. Michener. 1984.” I still have that brochure.
When I started writing novels, I had that same feeling of satisfaction every time an agent or publisher would ask to see more. But none offered a contract so I wasn't sure I could write fiction. (Then) I started sending my first book to manuscript contests.
“Where Love Once Lived” won first place in the romance category in the Writers League of Texas manuscript contest and first place in the inspirational category in the SouthWest Writers contest. These were proud moments, too.
SADYE: What’s your favorite place to visit?
SIDNEY: There is a town in Germany I've been to six or seven times that I enjoy most. I first went to Hildesheim (population around 100,000) in 1992 on a church choir trip. We sang with a German church choir and got to know a couple there. We stayed friends for many years.
Most of the buildings in town were destroyed in World War II, but the citizens rebuilt everything from photos to make the city look the same as before the war.
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Categories: Author Interview