Sylvia Massara

Biography

Sylvia Massara is a multi-genre novelist based in Sydney, Australia, who dabbles in wacky love affairs, drama and murder (or all three) over coffee. Sylvia has been writing since her early teens and her work consists of novels and screenplays.

As with most authors, Sylvia draws on her varied experience in the sometimes puzzling tapestry of life. These days, however, Sylvia has resigned from the human race, and she lives both in the animal kingdom with her kitty cat, Mia, (a much better place to be), and vicariously through the many characters in her head.

Sylvia has a soft spot for older female protagonists with an attitude, who are on the cusp of 40 years and beyond. This is seen in her wacky, romantic comedies and, most recently, in her mystery novels.

An avid fan of classic black and white Hollywood movies of the 40s, including film noir, Sylvia has placed her protagonist, Mia Ferrari, in a contemporary mystery series with a “film noir” flavour. Mia is an older, spunky, smartarse female who works in the international world of hotels. The theme is comedic, sexy, and sprinkled with a little bit of style from the film noir era. The stories are fast-paced and set in the modern day world.

On a more serious note, Sylvia’s work in literary fiction brings forth The Soul Bearers, an inspirational story filled with hope, overcoming fear, loss, betrayal, and discovering the healing power of unconditional love. At present, the novel is under consideration for adaptation into a feature film.

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Argentina but emigrated to Australia with my family at the age of 10. Interestingly, I didn't speak a word of English when I arrived here, and this was a difficult time for me. Children, however, are very resilient, and the experience of being a migrant in a country where discrimination was a lot worse back then (I'm talking early 70s), toughened me up, and I set out to show everyone who I really was.

Ironically, I came first in my spelling class after less than 6 months of living here. This said a lot for the education system back then. It was obvious my schoolmates didn't read too much :)

By the time I was 12 years old, I was writing screenplays of shows like Starsky and Hutch, and passing the screenplays around for the whole class to read. They loved my "weekly" episodes. I also wrote a few other screenplays with characters such as the nameless cowboy in Clint Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter". I was also involved in the writing of school productions.

Hollywood always influenced my imagination. In fact, ever since I was 5 years old, all I wanted was to be an actor. This never materialised, but my make-believe world developed from the many TV shows and films I used to watch, as well as all the novels I read during my early teens, starting with The Three Investigators and The Nancy Drew Series and followed by the historical romances of Barbara Cartland, and later, the more contemporary Harlequin/Mills&Boon romances.

At age 16, I wrote my first novel, a historical romance, and sent it off to a publisher for a lark. The funny thing was, the publisher wanted to publish it. First, though, he wanted me to expand the novella that it was (at 35K words) to 80K words. Like a fool, I decided not to do it. I could kick myself now for not having done it. Imagine, I would have been published at 16!
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm pretty much a 'multi-genre' author; and right now, I'm working on a mystery series. One of my favourite genres from the 1940s black and white Hollywood films is 'film noir'. Smartarse, flawed characters, who can be wicked for their own ends, but who all the same try to bring the bad guys to justice. I'm talking the likes of Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe.

I created the Mia Ferrari series with two things in mind: 1. Mia is an older woman in her late 40s. In real life, women in their late 40s and beyond usually become 'invisible'. This is a sore point with me as we have so much to give of ourselves, especially our wisdom among other things. Our society doesn't appreciate older women, and so we are delegated to the 'has-beens' bucket.

With Mia, I decided to change all this. Mia is a vibrant but flawed woman who's been through some tough times in life, and most recently came off an 18-year marriage to a man who dumped her for a younger woman. Mia is bitter, she's resentful, and she doesn't suffer fools gladly, but she's tough and she'll leave no stone unturned to help a victim of crime.

Mia also has a chip on her shoulder because she couldn't get into the police force when she was younger (due to height restrictions imposed back then). She's a little spitfire at 5 foot nothing, but her application to the force was rejected. One of the people who was instrumental in getting her rejected (even though the height restrictions had just been abolished) was Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe, now her archenemy.

Mia works as a Duty Manager in the international world of hotels, where anything and everything happens: murders, suicides, temperamental chefs throwing knifes at innocent kitchen hands, demanding celebrities, criminals carrying out shady deals, etc. Of course, where Mia goes, trouble follows, and she becomes like an in-house detective, always a step ahead of the cops, and specially her archenemy, whom she takes great pleasure in antagonising. As far as Mia is concerned, this is payback time for Detective Phil Smythe.

2. The other thing that made me create Mia was my love of the 1940s movies where wise guys are tough and wise girls are 'dames'. But with Mia, the setting of the novels is modern contemporary. However, the mysteries are fast-paced, and peppered with a bit of film noir here and there. Mia's 'dames' are reversed into her weakness for younger men and fast cars like her trusty Ferrari.

Corny, isn't it? A Ferrari owning a Ferrari :)
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Sylvia Massara online


Where to buy in print


Books

The South Pacific Murders -- A Mia Ferrari Mystery #3
By Sylvia Massara
Series: The Mia Ferrari Mysteries, Book 3. Price: $3.60 USD. Words: 74,570. Language: Australian English. Published: March 8, 2014. Category: Fiction
A killer is on the loose onboard a cruise liner. A number of doctors from a medical convention are being murdered one by one. The ship’s captain asks Mia and her travelling companions to take over the investigation. A secret sex club and horse racing bets are the only clues that can uncover the identity of the killer, but will Mia be able to solve the mystery before the killer strikes again?
The Gay Mardi Gras Murders - A Mia Ferrari Mystery #2
By Sylvia Massara
Series: The Mia Ferrari Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $3.60 USD. Words: 72,470. Language: English. Published: August 5, 2013. Category: Fiction
0.5 star(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Mia Ferrari, smartarse, older chick, super sleuth, is back! This time, she is up to her neck in drag queens, a rare diamond with a curse, and murder most foul against the backdrop of Sydney's world famous Gay Mardi Gras. A female impersonator is murdered and Mia has to juggle drag queens, handsome gay men, a transsexual with a dark past, a young cop with sex on his mind, and much more.
Playing With The Bad Boys - A Mia Ferrari Mystery #1
By Sylvia Massara
Series: The Mia Ferrari Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $3.60 USD. Words: 74,200. Language: English. Published: March 5, 2012. Category: Fiction
0.25 star(4.33 from 6 reviews)
A woman plunges ten floors down an atrium and lands on a baby grand piano in the luxurious Rourke Hotel Sydney. The police rule this as a straight case of suicide; but 48-year-old hotel duty manager and wannabe investigator, Mia Ferrari, thinks otherwise. As Mia sets out to unravel the mysterious death, she comes up against an unsavoury cast of characters who will do anything to shut her up.
Like Casablanca
By Sylvia Massara
Price: $3.60 USD. Words: 62,210. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2011. Category: Fiction
0.5 star(4.50 from 4 reviews)
What does internet dating and Casablanca have in common? Nothing, unless you go to Rick's Cafe and find out what dating blogger, Cat Ryan, is up to. Cat's doing research for her internet dating blog, and the place she chooses to meet her many dates is Rick's Cafe in Sydney. But what of its disturbingly handsome owner, Rick Blake? What does he think, seeing her with a different man each time?
The Soul Bearers
By Sylvia Massara
Price: $3.60 USD. Words: 99,510. Language: English. Published: October 2, 2010. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 8 reviews)
Inspired by real life events, this is a story of courage, friendship and unconditional love. Alex, freelance writer and survivor of child abuse, shares a house with homosexual couple: Steve and the disturbing Matthew. Alex finds that she is inexplicably attracted to Matthew and must battle with her repressed sexuality and fear of intimacy.
The Other Boyfriend
By Sylvia Massara
Price: $3.60 USD. Words: 60,430. Language: English. Published: July 22, 2010. Category: Fiction
0.5 star(4.62 from 13 reviews)
Sarah Jamison is on a mission to find a boyfriend for her lover’s partner; and Sarah’s best friend comes to the rescue with an idea so crazy that it just might work. Enter the enigmatic Mike Connor. Sarah hates the man on sight, but her body tells her otherwise. Mike Connor is smug and full of himself; even so, Sarah thinks that with his help she can finally be with the love of her life.

Sylvia Massara’s tag cloud


Smashwords book reviews by Sylvia Massara

  • Sleight Malice on Jan. 11, 2011
    star star star star
    As usual, the Queen of Suspense takes the reader through a labyrinth of situations and clues where the reader thinks "Yes, yes, I know who's done it!", but we're often wrong. When Vicki is ready, and not a minute before, she eventually leads the reader to a culminating and unexpected ending. Like Vicki's other book "Thin Blood", I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sleight Malice. The story gripped me from the start and then I couldn't put it down--even when I was supposed to be working on other things. LOL. I will soon embark upon another suspense adventure with Vicki's "Brittle Shadows" and already I know it's going to make an excellent read.
  • Thin Blood on Jan. 11, 2011
    star star star star
    I really enjoyed how the author built the suspense in her story. At first I thought the story was going to be a simple one, with the first few characters introduced and the general plotline, but as I got more into the story, other characters came out of the woodwork and there were a couple of very good twists--especially the one at the end. Normally, I don't read contemporary suspense novels, especially because some of them get too graphic (eg. Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, etc), so what I liked about Vicki Tyley's book was that she didn't have to resort to the use of gross and graphic scenes in order to grab my attention. She managed to maintain the suspense right through, simply by weaving her story in a way that kept me wanting to find out more and kept me guessing--and this, in my opinion, is the mark of a true suspense writer. Anyone can write about blood and gore, but not everyone can write a good suspense story without being too graphic. Vicki did and this is why I liked her novel. I will be reading Vicki's other books - she's got me hooked now ;-) I call her "The Queen of Suspense"!
  • Brittle Shadows on March 05, 2011
    star star star star
    With a beginning like the one in this book, you know straight away that you're going to keep turning the virtual pages on your e-reader! I loved the many contrasts in the story that kept me guessing through a labyrinth of characters and situations to try and work out who did it. But as usual, I got it wrong and Vicki kept me guessing right to the last scene. There were some real surprises and twists along the way that made me even more determined to try and outwit the main character and beat her to solving the mystery. However, the author is too clever for this and through her skillful twists and turns she led me to an unexpected ending. Great story, and one that I highly recommend! Sylvia Massara www.sylviamassara.com
  • Enemies and Playmates on April 02, 2011
    star star star star star
    This is the first time I’ve read a suspense/ romance and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Being a novelist myself, I thought how I would tackle this kind of genre if I were to write a suspense/romance. Personally, I would find it rather challenging to weave the suspense side of the story with the romance side and keep them flowing with a fine balance. I have to say that Darcia Helle has achieved this in an excellent manner. She has weaved her story with the characters in a subtle manner. So much so that I started to feel just how the characters felt, their likes/dislikes, their fears and their joys. One thing that jumped out at me was Darcia’s wonderful talent for developing her characters, especially the main protagonists. She doesn’t rush in and tell us all about them, instead she slowly shows us through their actions something new about them. I must say that this was done so well that I take my hat off to Darcia. It’s not easy trying to keep so many characters in your head (or even on paper) with their little quirks, habits, etc, and maintain continuity and consistency in a story, and also ensure the plot keeps moving. Darcia obviously has this gift and she delivers her story masterfully, even down to the little details that many of us never think about. I loved the story, and the plot just kept getting better and better, until the story culminated into a spiral of suspense action that made me unable to put down the book—or I should say, I just couldn’t shut off my e-book reader! I can’t wait to read Darcia’s other novels now :-) Sylvia Massara Novelist www.sylviamassara.com
  • Second Chances on April 21, 2011
    star star star star
    I read this book when it came out on Amazon, but I am also writing the review here: Second Chances is what I would term a paranormal suspense with a touch of romance. This is a genre that is new to me; at least since I read Anne Rice's vampire series years ago. But I'm not comparing the two as there are no vampires in this story. Second Chances is a story of good versus evil. What comes to the fore, however, are the qualities of forgiveness and love. In this story, the two main characters take totally different paths in life--one goes down the road of good; the other becomes evil. Now most of us would take the stance that the evil one "gets what he deserves", but in this story we see that love is ever expanding and that not only can it overcome evil, but it can actually transform evil into something that is pure love. In the end, what I took away from this riveting story is that there really is no evil in the universe--there is only love. We all travel down paths of our own making; some of these paths might be good while others might be negative or evil, but in the end there is no condition (whether physical or spiritual) that cannot be transformed by love. This wonderful story comes with a strong message that while subtle, cannot be dismissed. The story holds the reader spellbound with its tale of paranormal events, evil deeds, suspense, friendship and romance. At the end of the day, however, the message comes through loud and clear. Everything is love; everything can be transformed by love. In Second Chances, I was enthralled, held in suspense and even enchanted, in the end I came away feeling inspired and opening my heart to the fact that love truly does conquer all.
  • Justice For Emily on Sep. 21, 2011
    star star star star star
    This story has many elements: romance, humour, visits from a loved one who passed on, and the paranormal aspects that the heroine is blessed with and what protects her and makes her the strong and beautiful person she is. But the one aspect that jumped out at me and touched me deeply was the cold brutality that domestic abuse and violence invoked in the storyline. Straight away, my heart cried out for "justice"; justice for the character, Emily, and justice for all women in real life who are subjected to ANY type of abuse, whether it be physical, psychological, verbal or all three. There is a strong message in this story that cannot be ignored, and that is that evil exists in many forms; but through the love of those who care, justice and healing is possible. Certainly, a chilling read from the "abuse" perspective, but an enjoyable read as a whole. Thank you, Sandy; you have tackled a very difficult issue and dealt with it beautifully.
  • Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines on Nov. 15, 2011
    star star star star star
    Being an author myself, I don't get much time to read; but recently, during a move, I did my back in and was bed-ridden for a few days. I was driving myself insane, not having much to do, so I decided to read Carol's book. Just so you know, I'm getting closer to 50 myself (Oh, my God!); just went through a horrible divorce; an illness; lost my home; lost heaps of money on legal fees, etc, etc. I thought that this marriage of mine would last till the end and I lost all faith in love when it didn't. To top matters off, getting closer to the big 5-0 is not fun, and facing an uncertain future is very scary. As we get older, we also tend to lose loved ones around us; I lost my mother in 2007, and my cat of 15 yrs 6 months later. My other cat is 20 yrs old and on her last legs, and I don't have any other family in Australia, except my brother. So you might say that I'm DEFINITELY not looking forward to an uncertain future where I might be alone and have to start all over again. Why am I giving you all this background? So you can understand how Carol's book affected me. Basically, if I were a doctor dealing with a patient who's been going through all the crap I've been going through, I would prescribe Carol's book. The story made me laugh, it made me cry (I cried a lot, in fact), it made me look at things in my life in a different light, and it made me a little bit wiser in the end. I was able to relate to so many of the situations the characters in the book found themselves in, and I simply loved the mother! She so reminded me so much of my own mother, whom I miss so much (and my mother was real internet junkie to boot!). Also, I obviously had to release more sadness and feelings of hurt and grief about my marriage breakup. So it was probably providence that I did my back in and had Carol's book handy (though I could've done without the excrutiating pain. LOL). From an author's point of view, I loved the way Carol developed her characters and brought them to life in such a way that you could practically reach out and touch them!I got to know each of them intimately, and when the story finished I missed them. So Carol, please bring them back! This is a MUST READ for anyone at any age! Don't miss it (and don't wait till you're getting closer to 50). You will absolutely love this story whether your 19 or 99! And Carol, thank you for taking away so much of my pain through your writing; I truly appreciate it. Sylvia Massara Author of "Like Casablanca" "The Other Boyfriend" and "The Soul Bearers"
  • Into The Light on Dec. 10, 2011
    star star star star star
    All I want to know is why this author in not yet on the “bestseller” list. This is the second book I have read by Darcia Helle, and all I can say is that I was once again delighted that her story was a real page-turner. “Into the Light” is a paranormal mystery/thriller that will keep the reader wondering what is going to happen next. In my opinion, the character development is exceptional, and we get to piece together the personality and little quirks of each character bit by bit, while the story unfolds beautifully. Being an author myself, I have to say that we can be the worst critics when it comes to reviewing a book because not only do we look at character and plot development, but we also look at grammar, tense and a whole host of other things. We can get very picky at times; so I am pleased to say that I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation about this author’s writing style. I knew that even if the story wasn’t right up my alley, I would still enjoy a good read. In the end, however, I enjoyed the story immensely. When I leave a review, I don’t normally go into the actual story and reveal the plot. All I do is comment on what I’ve learned or felt from reading the book. In this instance, I have to say that I was not only entertained, but I tried to see if I could solve the mystery (which I didn’t), and so it was great when all was revealed by the author as the story unfolded very cleverly. Additionally, the story is one of inspiration and it shows the reader how we see things from a different perspective, relative to where we are—that is, on Earth or in the spirit world. In conclusion, I have only one word to describe this novel: EXCELLENT! Sylvia Massara Author of Like Casablanca, The Other Boyfriend, The Soul Bearers
  • Grumpy Old Menopause on Nov. 29, 2013
    star star star star
    What can I say about “Grumpy Old Menopause”? Well, if you’re going through this often crazy, hormonal, up and down, psychotic time in your life, then it pays off to arm yourself with as much ammunition as you can in order to mitigate the damage left in your wake! In Carol E. Wyer’s humorous look at this condition, you will not only find laughter—after all, laughter is the best medicine—but you will also find practical tips on how to get relief from those “meno” nasties. Well written and a laugh a minute, this is the book for you if you’re going through meno, on the way to meno, if you’ve survived meno, or if you’re a male and your spouse is going through meno. At least men will get a better understanding as to why their partners sometimes laugh and cry at the same time. This is the third book I’ve read by Carol E. Wyer. I’ve also read her humorous romances “Mini-skirts and Laughter Lines” plus “Surfing in Stilettos”, and like her novels, Carol’s wonderful sense of humour will get you laughing whether you like it or not, no matter what she writes. I laughed so much with her novels that I borrowed one of her characters to join one of mine in one of my murder mysteries. It’s not often that I can say I highly recommend an author’s work, but with Carol I feel comfortable in doing this. I am a fan of her work, and I am sure readers will agree with me when I say her work makes an excellent read.