Interview with Night Publishing author Suzannah Burke
Being able to post this interview with my dear friend Soooz makes me happy on many levels.
First and foremost, Suzannah is a great author. Her two autobiographical novels Empty Chairs and Faint Echoes of Laughter, written under the pen name Stacey Danson, about the author’s difficult start in life – rather an understatement- are widely read and highly praised. Rightly so. Not only do they show the strong survivor and determined person Suzannah is – a girl with a purpose: spread awareness on child abuse – these two books also make clear we’re dealing with a very talented writer here. In her new book Dudes Down Under – the real reason for this interview – Suzannah’s talent has come to bloom. Dudes is a funny, romantic, light-hearted book about a heavenly holiday resort populated by a bunch of rich and famous people who are thrown together unexpectedly and become “more normal” as they experience all sorts of adventures. Yes, she’s is a wonderful author.
Secondly, I am happy and proud to feature Suzannah on my blog because of all my writer pals she’s the absolute topdog when it comes to supporting and promoting fellow authors! We love you for that Soooz, you are indispensable, giving so much publicity to our books and thus boost our sales
Thirdly, I am happy to post this interview because I’m going through a very rough patch in my life at the moment and are unable to write myself or promote other authors. As Suzannah is my hero when it comes to surviving hardship, she’s a beacon of light and helps me through this dark night by sticking to my anvil: I am a writer no matter what!
Lastly: guys go and download Dudes Down Under NOW and enjoy a couple of hours of pure entertainment and fun, especially when you can do with some spirit lifting!
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I am an Australian, I am currently back living in beautiful Sydney.
I grew up in the very heart of the city of Sydney…but have lived in many areas of Australia.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I will try just about any type of food, but have a preference for French and Chinese cuisine. Oh and a good hamburger wins me every time.
My daughter tells me I am a good cook; I really enjoy cooking and I guess that is reflected in the end result. Food is very important to me, I have a lingering fear of going hungry..hangover from childhood I guess. Seeing the pantry and the freezer full of nourishing food satisfies me. It’s like a calming down device.
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other hobbies?
The closest I come to participating in any sport is swimming in the pool during summer. Plus fishing (Not in the pool)…I love fishing, it is such an intimate sport. I doubt that I would ever have played a team sport. I like the solo stuff. And I have a river in walking distance.
Do you have kids/grandkids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
I have one wonderful daughter who spoils me rotten, and am so delighted to know I will be a grandmother in a few months’ time.
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
I enjoy travelling (Except air travel) I’m terrified of flying although it hasn’t stopped me in the past; it’s certainly not a favourite thing to do. My travels at the moment (By car) are to events like the “Renaissance” exhibition in Canberra which was a three hour drive. Living in the city I have easy access to all the spots I love. I have also toured around most of Australia by caravan which was a great experience.
Do you have another job apart from writing?
No other job…I dedicate 16 hours a day to writing my own work and promoting work of folks whose writing I enjoy.
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer? Have their opinions changed since you became a published author? Which remark from your surroundings has stuck most with you?
My family consists of my daughter and myself. My friends love the fact that I am a writer they are very supportive and know not to contact me during my writing hours. As for which remark has stuck with me I had a very young person (13) tell me that my book encouraged her to seek help with abuse that was happening in her environment. That made the whole journey worthwhile for me.
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
I’m not a social creature by nature. I’m too uncomfortable outside my safety zone to venture out much. I love to socialise online though, I have made such wonderful online friends. The loneliness I used to feel disappeared once I discovered social networking sites like FB.
Which character trait do you like best about yourself and why? Which trait would you rather do without?
I think I’m an unselfish person, I enjoy giving far more than receiving, it’s a trait I admire in others as well. As for which trait I’d rather do without I guess I would have to say my habit of tilting at windmills. I get angry (very) when I perceive any form of injustice, so I tend to go charging in head first without thinking things through.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
The apartment is very compact (read small) so I have a little nook in the corner of the living room near a rear window. The view is lovely though; we have a bird -sanctuary literally outside the window, I find it calms me.
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
I have to have coffee on hand as I work. I don’t keep count of the numbers of cups I drink…way to many.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
My first two books are both non-fiction. However I have a comedy/romance just out in April 2012. I don’t have one particular genre that appeals to me. I have another completed book which I am currently editing which is a crime/thriller. I have another work in progress which is a romance. I don’t restrict myself to any one genre, I let my muse take me where it will.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel? Have you published more than one book?
My first book was released in January 2011. How did I feel? Exhausted, yet content that I had finally honoured a promise I made a very long time ago. The sequel was published in January 2012. I feel relieved now they are both done. I’m hopeful that I have achieved what I set out to do. I wanted to help people understand that child abuse and the horror associated with it has no social boundaries. I hope that I have managed to do that in a small way.
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea, how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
The first book “Empty Chairs” was written after the suicide death of a very dear friend. I had promised her that I would write our story…her story… someday, and that someday didn’t arrive in time. I wrote Empty Chairs to honour the promise I made to her. I fell ill towards the end of writing the book, and ended it too soon. I had no idea that people would care enough to ask for more…but they did. The sequel “Faint Echoes of Laughter” was written as a result of that caring…and to bring closure to myself as well.
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
I have no set number of words that I attempt. I do write every day, although I haven’t spent nearly enough time on my writing of late. April will be dedicated mainly to beginning another book that has been simmering in my mind for a long time.
Can you tell us a bit about the background to your new book Dudes Down Under? How did you come up with the idea? How long did it take you to write the book? Was it fun as compared to your two first books with heavy content?
Dudes Down Under began as a way to offer myself some insane comedic relief whilst I was writing Empty Chairs. Nanowrimo was about to begin and I badly needed a distraction. The contents of my biography were harrowing to write. I was living alone at that time and the hours of the night became a little overwhelming as a result of what memories I needed to touch on in Empty Chairs.
The idea for Dudes Down Under was born of my long history living in the Tropical North of my beautiful Australia. I adore my country and have stayed in many island resorts in my adult life.
I wanted to share some of the beauty with folks that have never been to Oz, and I was delighted with the way the characters took control. Our crazy sense of humor here in Oz was something I wanted to share, and I am a woman who enjoys a romance as well so I sort of scrambled the ingredients and viola…Dudes Down Under was born.
I would spend my days writing my biography Empty Chairs…and most evenings I would badly need the escape of writing whacky off the wall humor.
Cyril, the crocodile is already an all-time favourite fictional character. How did he develop? Could we call him your alter ego?
My darling Cyril came out of absolutely nowhere. I have seen many croc’s in the wild, and my daughter and I used to laugh a great deal when she was just a child about crocodile’s smiles. They do look as if they are perpetually grinning. So I extended that in thought to what it was that made them smile like that…and Cyril is what evolved.
The scenes in the book including Cyril were a joy to write. I just took the human world around him and had him react to it in a very strange way..then I wanted to make him a lovable rogue so I added the alcohol, the attitude, and the wonderful sense of um–style (He dresses really well).
Is he my alter ego? Oh hell yes! Cyril gets away with saying and doing all the politically incorrect things I think and don’t verbalize…mainly because I don’t fancy being arrested.
How long did Dudes Down Under take me to write?
Initially 30 days…for Nanowrimo. Then I doubled the content of the book, and allowed Cyril to be a little more outrageous. Every time I hear Cyril’s character in my head I hear the wonderful comedic timing of Robin Williams…so that when I wrote Cyril’s scenes, Robin Williams was the voice.
How do you feel about writing romance-comedy? Do you like to develop cross-genres?
I have given myself permission to attempt any and all genres…that doesn’t necessarily mean I can write across the spectrum, however it does mean that I will never limit myself to one genre. I thoroughly enjoyed including the romantic elements in Dudes. It is a lighthearted look at the human condition. Other genres that i have written and am currently writing are not lighthearted, the extreme opposite in fact, but even extreme darkness has its resoundingly light opposite and the vagaries of life are everywhere to be seen, writing fodder for me is simply observing everything around me, and then hopefully translating what I see into prose that works for the reader.
Who is your agent and/or publishing company? What do they mean to you?
Night Publishing are my publishers. I have been so damned lucky to have Tim Roux support and encourage my work. It can’t have been easy, I didn’t want to change a thing. And the editing would have been a nightmare. He stuck with me every step of the way.
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
Honey, I don’t think that far ahead.
THANK YOU SO MUCH for this interview, lovely Soooz!!!
Dudes Down Under:
Don’t miss this one!! Also in May many authors are promoted here: