No One Dies in the Garden of Syn
by Michael Seidelman
Publisher: Chewed Pencil Press
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Synthia (Syn) Wade is a teenage girl who struggles with cystic fibrosis, an incurable life-threatening disease. One day she is pushed into a pond by an unseen figure and wakes up in a new world – a mysterious garden where illness and death don’t exist.
Welcomed by the garden’s residents and now free of her symptoms, Syn decides to stay. But, before long, she realizes that this apparent utopia holds many dangers and dark secrets.
Surrounding the garden is a fog that Syn is warned never to enter. She encounters bizarre creatures that defy reason. And always lurking in the shadows is a masked woman – a woman who may have a connection to the disappearance of Syn’s parents many years ago. A woman whom no one will speak of, but whom everyone fears.
While No One Dies in the Garden of Syn, Syn will soon discover that some fates are worse than death.
Q&A with the Author
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
A: After I graduated from high school, I worked at a video store, part of Canadian’s largest video store chain (when there was such a thing as ‘video stores’). After a couple of years at the store, I took a job in the mailroom at the head office and eventually worked my way up the ladder to work in Online Marketing. During that period, I continued to write in my free time. A few years after Rogers Video was ‘no more,’ I realized that while I liked Online Marketing, I really wanted to put all of my time and energy into writing full time. I then quit my job, with the help of some savings, and wrote No One Dies in the Garden of Syn, the first book in The Garden of Syn Trilogy.
Q: Where and when did your writing journey begin?
A: I had always been creative, making up stories in my head when I was young. However, in high school, when I was assigned to write my first short story, I realized it was something I really enjoyed. I especially enjoyed reading my stories aloud to my classmates and to witness their expressions and gasps when my twists were revealed.
Q: Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
A: Though I have many favorites, both adult and young adult, the authors I would say I enjoy reading the most today are Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben. However, it’s the authors I enjoyed most as a kid – Roald Dahl, C. S. Lewis, Enid Blyton and Lewis Carroll – who are probably the biggest influences for The Garden of Syn series. Their imaginations and stories about magical worlds inspire me to reach for the stars creatively when I’m writing my own tales.
Q: What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
A; After I’m ready for the day and have checked my email, I sit at my computer and plug away at my book. I break up the day with a walk and more often than not come back with new ideas and inspiration. Of course, some days I’m editing or doing re-writes, and some days I’m focused on marketing. On other days I’m doing a mix of everything. For recreation, I read a lot, watch movies and socialize with friends and family. As I’m sure is the case for most writers, even on the days I take off or on evenings after I’m done writing for the day, I’m thinking up ideas and jotting down notes for storytelling. Writing full time is less of a job and more of a lifestyle – the best possible kind!
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
A: Growing up, I was a big fan of stories that took place in other worlds, like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia. I have always wanted to write a tale of my own about a secret world, however I wanted it to be something that truly hasn’t been done before. Definitely not a story that ends up being a dream. I wanted the secret world to have a larger story behind it, targeted for an older audience. When I knew I wanted to take some time off work to write a novel, I escaped to quiet, scenic locales to inspire me and slowly but surely, ideas formed for The Garden of Syn. As soon as I started to develop the ideas on paper, I knew I had something different and special that I was compelled to share with the world.
Q: What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
A; I can’t think of any book that spotlights a protagonist with a life threatening disease who is also at the center of an adventure. I have had readers describe my book as Alice in Wonderland meets The Fault in our Stars. While that may be oversimplifying the story a bit, there is some truth to that mash-up comparison and I think that element is unique. No One Dies in the Garden of Syn also has more going on than initially meets the eye. Without going into too much detail, I will say that all of the strange things occurring in this secret world have a reason for being – everything has an explanation and most of the mysteries are revealed by the end of the first book.
Q: Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
A: My protagonist, Syn, is definitely my favorite character. Life has not been kind to this teenage girl and it may eventually be cut short because of her cystic fibrosis. All of that said, she has a passion for life, no mater how many obstacles are thrown at her. She is very different than me; however she does share my passion for life and love of animals. She has reasons that differ from my own but like the book’s hero, you’ll never see me stepping on a spider and I have an appreciation for any creature with a heartbeat, no matter how small it is.
Q: Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
A: I set up a lot of mysteries in the book. As much as I enjoyed introducing my protagonist to the bizarre occurrences in this new place, I had the most fun having her discover the reveals behind them. I expect many readers who have read other books about secret worlds aren’t going to expect as many answers as they are going to get and I love surprising them.
Q: What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
A: First and foremost, I hope my readers are entertained. There are serious and poignant themes in this book but it’s also full of mystery and adventure and if I did my job, it should be a fun read. I hope they like and care for the main character and root for her success. And of course, I hope the book has the readers pumped up to read the next book in The Garden of Syn series.
Q: What are your hopes for this novel?
A: Like most writers, I hope my book finds an audience that thoroughly enjoys it. I also hope they learn something about cystic fibrosis and what it is like for a teenager to live with it. I made a conscious decision to have my protagonist suffer from a disease that was not as well known as, say, cancer, but that was just as threatening to the people who suffer from it. When I first heard about CF as a kid, the treatments were not as advanced as they are today. That said, there is still no cure. Hopefully with more people becoming aware of cystic fibrosis, more donations will come in to enable researchers to discover a cure. Nothing would make me happier than to think my book could help pave the way for that to happen.
Q: What do you have in store next for your readers?
A: Of course, there are the next two books in The Garden of Syn Trilogy, the first of which will be available in 2017, and the conclusion the following year. After that, I have a one-off thriller full of twists and turns that I’m really excited to start working on, as well as a middle-grade fantasy-adventure. Beyond that, I have two other Young Adult series I’d like to write. So if you like No One Dies in the Garden of Syn and want more, you are in luck because I have a lot more stories to share!
About the Author
My name is Michael Seidelman. I was born in Vancouver, BC Canada where I continue to reside. When I was growing up, my passions were reading, watching movies, nature and creative writing. Not much has changed since then. In high school when I had an opportunity to write short stories in class, I relished reading them out loud to my classmates who would gasp at the unexpected twists and applaud when I was done. I took several creative writing classes and have continued writing over the years while working in Interactive Marketing.
About two years ago, I decided to take some time off to focus on my writing and work on a Young Adult trilogy. The first book in The Garden of Syn series – No One Dies in the Garden of Syn – will be released on April 26th. Meanwhile, I am working hard on the second and third books in the series.
Getting up every morning and sitting down to create new characters and bring new worlds to life is the most fulfilling job I have ever had. Beyond the trilogy, I have many ideas plotted out and I look forward to sharing them all with the world!