About Sylvia McNicoll

Award-winning Author

My Story

As a child…

If someone had told me I would grow up to be a writer when I was young, I wouldn’t have believed it. My parents were German immigrants so English started off as my second language and even though I loved writing from the time I wrote my first composition in grade four, I thought it was something only dead British or American people did with success. So when I grew up (in Montreal, Quebec), I worked as a clerk in cash management for a large paper company while earning my Bachelor of Arts from Concordia University at night.

Career Starts

Leaving the finance world to have three children forced me to slow down, reflect and write again, something I had not had time to do since school. I tried my hand at adult short stories, actually had some household hints published in magazines, and then went on to freelance articles for the local paper when we moved to Burlington, Ontario. A friend of mine, Gisela Sherman, who went on to publish three novels herself, convinced me to take a children’s writing course given by Paul Kropp at Sheridan College. I loved his books and in his course wrote wrote my first novel, Blueberries and Whipped Cream, as the class project. After nine books, I returned to Sheridan College, this time to teach Creative writing.  I enjoyed teaching for nine years and then reluctantly gave it up because of the travel commitments of book tours.

Full-fledged Writer

A professional writer often cobbles many career streams together.  For eight years I edited Today’s Parent Toronto, shaping and creating non fiction about family life in Toronto. I also taught writing to junior grades for weeks at a time through Ontario Arts Council. I acted as an electronic writer in residence, commenting on stories from schools across Canada. I volunteered for CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers), served as president, and represented creators on the Access Copyright Board. Currently, I teach part time at Mississauga Living Arts and offer mentoring services to emerging writers.

But mainly I write books.

The Writing

When Bringing Up Beauty, my story on fostering guide dogs, won the OLA Silver Birch, the novel attracted international attention selling to a Scandinavian Book Club for girls. The novel grew into a series translated into Norwegian, Swedish, German and Finnish. I began writing novels for this club. Last Chance for Paris was a story about a girl and a wolf dog set on the ice fields of Columbia. It began the Scandinavian series Et Vilt Liv–The Wild life comprised of six novels. Later I sold them Dying to Go Viral which explores the premise of getting a one week do-over after a fatal accident.

crush. candy. corpse is a novel that took the pain of losing my mom to Alzheimer’s Disease, into a story about a 16 year old girl on trial for the manslaughter of a lady just like Mom.

Run your hands over the beautiful sky blue hard cover Best Friends Though Eternity to experience the grainy texture of beach sand. An entirely different slant on my death premise–this novel tells the story of an adopted Chinese girl discovering some uncomfortable truths about her past.

I do tend to use newspaper articles as well as my own life to inspire ideas. Enter The Great Mistake Mystery Series in which I make peace with a lot of the errors I made by giving them to my main character 12 year-old dog walker Stephen Noble. Stephen and Renée Kobai solve mysteries with the help of Ping and Pong, the two crazy dogs they walk for their father’s service.Those dogs are very much based on my jackapoo Mortie and my granddog Worf.


Because I believe in young writers, I love teaching and speaking about writing process. I also believe because of the Baby Boomer demograph, that seniors and teens need to bond and work together as never before.  Read my latest YA, The Body Swap, a story where a 15 year old and 82 year old exchange souls and team up to fight the faulty car manufacturer that caused their deaths. When you think about it, writers for young adults are always swapping their souls into young bodies to tell their stories.

Coming Soon

Brownie and Naomi have an unusual relationship–they talk inside each other’s heads. All they want to do is keep each other alive and their family together. What the Dog Knows tells about that struggle.

 Wikipedia page link

Quick Facts

Born: Ajax, Ontario, September 30, 1954

Married to: Bob McNicoll,

Children: Jennifer, Craig and Robin

Grandchildren: Hunter, Fletcher, Finley, Ophelia, William, Jadzia, Violet, Desmond, Scarlett

Education: BA Specialization in English, minor in Economics, Concordia University, Montreal

Awards: 2011 Burlington Creative Artist (Literary Arts)

2011 Arts Hamilton for Last Chance for Paris

2007 Hamilton Arts Multimedia Award for Beauty Returns,

2006 Korean War Veteran’s Award (Hamilton Arts) for short article

2000 Explora-toy Best Novel for Caught in a Lie

“A Note From home” Today’s Parent Toronto

1996 Silver Birch for Bringing Up Beauty

1996 Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award for Bringing Up Beauty

Latest Books

By Sylvia McNicoll

Body Swap

A fatal collision — who’s to blame? Two bodies, two souls switch in search of justice.

Snake Mistake Mystery

Noble Dog Walking takes care of pets, even if they slither.

Artsy Mistake Mystery

They say he’s been stealing art. But is Attila being framed?

Because I believe in young writers, I love teaching and speaking about writing process.

– Sylvia McNicoll

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