Interview Series: Creative Couples: Heather Silvio and Sidney Oster
I met Heather a few years ago at Sierra Nevada University, where Joe and I teach in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA track, and Heather was working on one of her many (yes, many) degrees. She has an incredible variety of expertise, as seen on her website, and she's one of those creatives who also have an impeccable business sense; an uncommon but priceless combo to make it in any arts industry. I have not met Sidney yet, but I'm sensing a similar personality based on his impressive photography portfolio. They gave me this short and sweet interview, which really showcases how well they weave their lives and jobs in multiple, succinct ways.
We all love a good love story. Tell us the moment you each knew you were in love. Make us swoon!
Heather: Sidney likes to say it was the first moment he saw me, but I suspect for both of us, because we were older when we got together, it was when we traveled together, especially to Italy, because it showed we could be in close proximity for an extended period and still want to be around each other.
Liz Gilbert said she “married” her writing at 16, and many people think it’s not possible to have two artists in the house. In the beginning, were you of the mind that two creatives would live well together or the opposite?
Both: We definitely believed we would live well together, because we have very compatible personalities and interests, from art to football. Plus, our art pursuits are fairly individual and personal (although they do intersect at times!), but there’s no conflict between them.
Share a little bit about your work—books, music, movies, art—what do each of you do?
Sidney: I am a photographer whose subjects are primarily people. However, I have photographed a lot of animals! I take portraits of every kind. My portrait style right now is very contemporary, magazine-quality. My wife is an author and I’ve also photographed a number of authors.
Heather: I am a full-time author and occasional actress. I’m a definite genre-hopper, but in the past few years have developed my brand as the author of fun, flirty, fantasy romance & mystery. Think Hallmark with paranormal characters! My completed series is the Paranormal Talent Agency and my most recent book is Hazard in Hawaii (Doctor Danger #1).
What brought you to these outlets/jobs?
Sidney: I took a photography class in college when I was pursuing a finance degree – and I’ve loved it ever since.
Heather: I knew eventually I would be a full-time author, but I have tons of interests and pursued a bunch of those too, with the result that: I have four degrees (plus I’m in school again); I’m a licensed clinical psychologist, actress, and consultant/trainer; and all of this feeds into what I write. In terms of writing, I wrote my first story that I remember at age 10. I published my first short story in high school and never looked back.
Do you ever collaborate on projects? Tell us a little bit about that process.
We both have collaborated with each other – Heather has been Sidney’s unpaid assistant and he’s photographed her for a number of her author and actress needs. In addition, they are developing a super-secret pen name they plan to launch in 2022. (And that was weird, writing this paragraph in third person!)
Creative work doesn’t normally lend itself to a regular routine like punching a time clock. Describe your method for completing projects while also living a regular life, raising kids, if applicable, or working a day job. How do you manage your time together?
Sidney: We each have multiple income streams and responsibilities, so actually planning our days and our weeks involves putting things on a shared calendar. It’s important for us to explicitly plan some things.
Heather: Thankfully, no young kids at home or a day job (for me)! The biggest challenge is that Sidney has a day job; it’s photography related, but does necessitate, as he said, making sure we put things on a shared calendar, so we don’t plan over something important to the other.
How do you support each other’s work?
Both: Besides collaborating, we provide each other time to do our work. That’s probably the biggest way. We don’t begrudge the other when they need/want to focus on the creative process. We also don’t micromanage what either spends on the business side of our creativity (such as new photography equipment or paying for a book cover).
We all have challenges in our relationships and having the same job can present its own hurdles. What would you say you have to work on the most as a creative couple, in particular?
Both: We don’t have the same creative job yet – though maybe we’ll revisit this question after we launch our shared pen name.
And on the other side of things, how does both of you being artists feed or fuel your relationship?
Both: It feeds it by allowing us to collaborate as professionals and as a couple. It also provides us with fun!
What fictional character does your partner most resemble?
Sidney: Heather resembles Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs
Heather: I actually put Sidney in Lights, Camera, Action (Paranormal Talent Agency, #1) as a character named… Sidney, lol.
If your partner and their work ethic/process was an animal, what animal would they be?
Sidney: Heather is a panther because she attacks her work and she’s stealthy in how much she is able to accomplish. She’s also beautiful like the panther.
Heather: Sidney is like a squirrel because he is easily distracted but still gathers all his nuts for winter! And, I would like to add that Sidney picked panther for me really because that’s my favorite animal, lol, and then he just created an explanation for it.
(hahaha...hey, that's collaboration!)
Describe your dream working space as a couple.
Both: Hmm, this one is a little bit tricky, as Heather would like a tropical beachfront cottage and Sidney would like a mountain top chalet. We compromised with a beautiful Florida home that fronts wooded preservation land, has space for Heather’s office and Sidney’s studio, plus is 30 minutes from the beach.
(I'd say that's an epic compromise!)
We’re incredibly thankful that we’re able to share our dreams with each other and have a similar vision for where we want to continue to go.
(I do think that shared vision is a key to making anything last: business, art, and love.