Sylvia Petter was born to a German mother and an English speaking Austrian father who migrated to Australia with their daughter. She gained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 1969, majoring in French and German. Petter moved to Europe after her graduation where she lived in Vienna for five years and then moved to Geneva where she joined a United Nations agency International Telecommunications Union.
She has attended workshops and writing conferences in Australia, Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK) and completed correspondence courses through Humber College, Toronto. She has subscribed to membership of the Geneva Writers' Group, the NSW Writers' Centre (Australia), International PEN (Swiss Romande Chapter) and the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (UK).
Petter began writing fiction in 1993 and in 2001 published an e-book, The Past Present, her first collection of short stories, one of which, An Imaginary Friend, has been translated into French. The Danger of Ticky Tack was shortlisted in the top ten at the Writers' Display 2002 International Essay Contest. A novelist and writer of poetry, she has written a monthly column, Tips & Leads, for the epublisher IUMIX. Petter has served also as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Caribbean Literatures. Most of her publications have been on-line.
In 2001 she gave a reading at Gleebooks Unplugged, Sydney, Australia. In 2002 she gave a reading and discussion of her work at the VIC's PEN Club, Vienna, Austria and a reading and paper at the 7th International Conference on the Short Story in English, New Orleans, USA. In 2003 she undertook doctoral candidature as an external research student in Creative Writing at the University of New South Wales.