Lily Byrne interviews Stacey Danson

After reading Empty Chairs by my Australian friend Stacey Danson, I agreed with many readers that we needed a sequel. The book ended rather abruptly after describing the first eleven years of horrific child abuse that Stacey endured and her finding relative safety living with other runaway kids in a container in Sydney’s docking area. Stacey listened to her readers and did an equally amazing job delving back into these difficult years in her teens and gave us Faint Echoes of Laughter, an – at times – more harmonious account of the next decades of her life, starting with her five years as a street kid in the 1960s.

It goes without saying that I have tremendous respect and admiration for Stacey and I was glad to find an excellent interview that another dear friend of me, Catherine Chisnall aka Lily Byrne, did with Stacey after the release of Faint Echoes of Laughter. So tons of thanks, Lily Cat, for giving me permission to repost the interview. The original post can be read at:

Also please check out Lily’s blog with a lot of information on child abuse:

1.              Tell us more about your book.

Faint Echoes of Laughter was written in response to a large number of people who kindly asked what happened to me after I began living with the kids in “The Palace”:  the shipping container on the docks in Sydney where I ended up staying for five years; from the age of almost twelve till after my sixteenth birthday. It wasn’t a maudlin request made from people who were looking for a thrill read, these folks genuinely wanted to know how my life turned out. I felt an obligation to give them the answers.

2.              Why did you choose that title?

Faint Echoes of Laughter is what I hear every time I’m around the streets and the parks where we lived. I still hear the lovely sounds of normal kids playing and bathing in the fountains right in the heart of our beautiful city. I can hear us through the decades every time I go into the city, the reminders are right there. For most of the time they make me smile in remembrance. Some of the happiest days of my life where spent with the gang. At times we could almost convince ourselves that the way we were living was normal, because it became ‘normal’ to us.

3.              How has your life changed since you wrote Empty Chairs?

My geographical location has changed. I am now delighted to be living back in the heart of Sydney with my daughter. We share a rented apartment together and that arrangement has worked out so wonderfully well. She is probably the only other human being I would even consider living with. As for her, yes…she has said the same thing. We get on so damned well together, it’s unusual apparently for mother and child to feel that way as adults. She is now expecting her first child, and we are both like a couple of silly kids enjoying the wonder of the whole thing.

As for my personal life, I have been absolutely blown away by the numbers of total strangers that have reached out to me since the book came out. People that have thanked me for sharing the horror of my childhood, simply because it gave them a measure of understanding of what does go on even today, behind closed doors. For some folks they have shared with me the fact that they too have been abused and my work has given them a push toward seeking some help with their fears and remembered pain.

4.              From the comments on Amazon and various blogs, you have touched many, many lives in a positive way. How does that make you feel?

It’s a responsibility. I have to be so careful in this regard, for I am not a qualified counselor, I am not a professional in the field of abuse; I am simply someone that managed to scrape a life out for herself, and not linger in the pain of memories. People ask me for advice that I can only give as a person that lived beyond it. Perhaps they feel that if I could do it, they can do it.

Whatever the reasons I am hopeful that perhaps one or two or even a few people male and female may be prompted to seek professional advice where they may have been too overwhelmed to before they read Empty Chairs.

5.              Has anyone told you that your books have helped them practically, such as given them courage to walk away from abuse?

Yes, several people have entered into correspondence online with me in that regard. I doubt that I would have given them the courage to walk away. That courageous first step can only come from deep within the individual.

Perhaps I have simply helped them become aware that what they have going on currently or have gone through in their past, is not insurmountable.

In today’s world the awareness is far more common. The powers that be recognize that this monstrous behavior exists in numbers people find unbelievable and overwhelming.

Sadly it has desensitized many folks to the problem.

The numbers of people coming forward and talking about this dreadful thing, and indeed any violence perpetrated against an unwilling person, be they child or adult have swamped the professionals and the media.

My concern is that too many people will ignore what is going on around them simply because they think the problem is too overwhelming to be dealt with. They are wrong. Each and every human being has a right to a quality of life un-tempered by fear and reprisal.

6.              I read that you re-visited the places of your childhood recently. Did it help? Did it make you feel worse?
I knew it was something I needed to do before I began writing Faint Echoes of Laughter. When I finished writing Empty Chairs I fell ill. A combination of physical factors and emotional distress I underwent whilst writing the book culminated in very poor health.

When I made the decision to write Faint Echoes I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it without going back and facing the remaining demons. I was shocked at just how vulnerable it made me feel to go back to the house where most of the abuse took place. I thought I would be able to stand there and look at it as just bricks and mortar…I was so very wrong. However once I had done it, and also revisited some places that had happy memories connected to them I knew I could write the book without as many harrowing flashbacks as before.

I still had bad ones, but not the debilitating ones I went through when writing Empty Chairs.



7.              What happened to your street friends, are they still with us?

No, Catherine. Apart from Jamie and myself they are all gone. It distresses me a great deal to talk about that. I cover it in the book. Most of those wonderful people ended their own lives. It should have been so different.

8.              What next for you as an author?

I have written two fiction novels and they will be published later this year. I want to see if I have what it takes to write good fiction, a totally different ballgame to writing both Empty Chairs and Faint Echoes of Laughter. I would like to spend my time creating characters and stories that allow folks to escape into them. Reading was always a savior for me, I would dearly love to create somewhere people can escape to with my writing. Time will tell.

9.          I hear you are to become a grandmother soon, how does that make you feel?

Joyous! Totally and completely joyous. My daughter is such a delight and has given me so much to be thankful for since the day she was born…the fact that she is going to have a baby is just the most wonderful news.
I am so damned thrilled that I have been granted the gift of still being here to experience being a Grandparent. How lucky I am.

I and every one with an ounce of humanity in the world, wish you the very best.

………………………..End of Interview……………………………….

Thank you so much Stacey and Lily Cat for this lovely exchange between two great authors and wonderful human beings and friends!!

Before I give you the links to Stacey’s Books, I want to share the Amazon review I wrote after reading Faint Echoes of Laughter:

There are people in this world – not big, famous names with lots of money and thus lots of opportunities – but real-life humans like Stacey Danson, who have had to fight awful ordeals and won despite all the odds; they deserve our reverence and show us what the real stuff is that heroes are made of; they are the flesh-and-blood survivors we like to read about, or watch on the screen.

But that’s only about Stacey’s beautiful personality.

As a reader we are in equal awe of her capacity to get her own story down on paper in straightforward, unadorned prose and turn her own thorny path into a page-turner, a wonderful warm, loving account of how she focuses on the good things that happened in her life after she escaped from her childhood hell. No ghost-writer needed here, she does it all herself.

I will not go into the contents of Stacey’s story as other reviewers have already done that extensively. In fact, I feel the reader cannot add anything to Faint Echoes of Laughter: it stands, it is, it reveals itself and we can only cry and rejoice. Oh, and hope Stacey’s bright light will enlighten more dark corners on this globe where child abuse lurks, and give hope to the hopeless, courage to the broken and healing to the wounded.

I truly hope Stacey Danson’s life story will be turned into a film as I believe it needs to reach and educate as many people as possible.

Please read Faint Echoes of Laughter and help spread Ms Danson’s light. It is so warm, so hopeful, so REAL!


Links to Stacey’s books:
Her Amazon page:
Empty Chairs on Amazon: (Kindle) (Paperback)
Faint Echoes of Laughter on Amazon: (Kindle) (Paperback)


3 Responses to “Lily Byrne interviews Stacey Danson”

  1. Kate Rigby says:

    What a moving interview for a most amazing woman! Soooz is an inspiration and a rare talent.

  2. Norma Abercrombie says:

    Have just read both of Stacey Dansons books and been deeply moved. At the end Stacey says that another book called Still Sassy at sixty will be her next book. I can’t find it anywhere . Please could you update all her avid reader friends. I carry Sassy deep in my heart and need to know how she is.

    • Hannah Warren Hannah Warren says:

      Hi Norma, I’ve forwarded your message to Suzanna so I hope she’ll be in touch with you soon. If not, let me know. Greetings, Hannah

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