I have been overwhelmed by the beauty of this author and the warmth she has for people in spite of her personal past. She should be a cold, unfeeling woman with nothing to share with the world. Instead she has the most giving spirit and it comes across in all she does. There is a graciousness about her and trustworthiness you feel at first contact.We have never met in person, but she herself would be a compelling reason to visit Australia. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I know we will be friends. This is my take on the person and I cannot say enough about her as an author. Her talent is extraordinary.She writes with truth and her characters are so complex yet perfectly right for the book she has written. I am referring in this case to Acts Beyond Redemption.
“Please say hello, to my Aussie Friend-Suzanne Burke. Thanks Soooz for allowing me to do this interview and the honesty with which you answered my questions.”
Question #1- Suzanne tell us about yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood and past? How has it affected your writing?
Firstly, I would like to offer my personal thanks for your kind interest in my work, and by extension the things that sparked my need to write.
We are all such complex creatures, Jo. We all have layers of protection that are utilized whenever the need arises. It took me almost five decades before I decided to remove that shield, before I was brave or bold enough to write the words that my heart ached to set free.
As for my childhood? I didn’t have one. The innocence of that time, that precious time, was stripped away by those that should have given their own lives to protect me. Child abuse, physical abuse, and the emotional abuse that happened day-in and day-out every day, took away that childhood. I spent fifty years of my life seeking to find it again, but we can’t go back. Once I learned that precious lesson, it freed me to pursue a future. That future of course would always be colored by the textures of darkness that my past brought forward. That is an inevitable factor in all our lives, the joys, the heartaches and the memories cling to us like perfume, some rich and fragrant, some sour and bitter.
I discovered that that bitterness was an odor that prevented me from moving forward. I made the decision to rid myself of it, and I believe absolutely that the decision to do that saved me from the continuous hell I was allowing myself to be enslaved by.
I’ve lived with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for my entire life, but I refuse to allow it to dominate. I fall prey to it more often than I’d like, especially when writing my memoirs. The nightmares and flashbacks can be horrendous, and I have resorted to alcohol as a memory salve more often than I ever should have. I am currently a recovering alcoholic and well aware of just how fragile I can be.
The decision to write my memoirs was a difficult one, I had no way of assessing just how tremendously difficult it would become, but I will never regret writing Empty Chairs or Faint Echoes of Laughter. The people I loved most in the world were dying one after the other, all of them deserved to be remembered. They took their own lives for the most part. That would never have happened if they had not endured the nightmares that no child anywhere should be subjected to.
I am now in my Sixties, my health is bad. I have so much more I need to accomplish. I am happy now. I am safe. I am loved. No one can ask for more than that. I have lived long enough to see my own child grow and blossom into a marvelous, strong, and loving woman, and I have the utter joy of living with her and my delightful young grandson. I am content with that. Yet I know that I have still one more memoir left to write. That is currently in progress.
Question #2 – Suzanne, when you choose what to write what influences your decision? Does it reflect those things most important to you? Does your choice come from another place or result from an altogether other reason?
I have covered what inspires me to write non-fiction. My fictional books are written to entertain. Reading has always offered me a means to escape. I find it the most relaxing of all the places in the world to escape to. I love the thriller/suspense/mystery genre above all that I have read thus far. I guess primarily because so much of it could be easily grounded in fact, yet it’s fact that makes complete sense in a world that is crazy. I have written in several different genres, with paranormal being a close second of my chosen genres. People (Characters) that take a strong stance for what they believe in inspire me. Even the wickedest amongst them are usually inspired by what they utterly believe to be truths.
I escape happily into my characters’ lives and they take control of the words that I write. I find myself to be uncompromising in writing of their actions, for they are the actions rightly or wrongly, of men and women who do not bow down.
I have to laugh as I read this. It really does expose my underbelly. I’m okay with that.
Question #3 – We know you wrote at least two books under another pen name? Was the reason for that the personal nature of those books?
Absolutely. I write my non-fiction under the pen name of Stacey Danson. Why? Simple really, those that I write about have private lives. Many of them discussed this undertaking with me. They were to a person all happy that I was doing so, but by choice, many of them had chosen to never reveal the hell that they had come from to the loved ones that now peopled their lives. I promised them anonymity. I will never break that promise. Despite the fact that one of the Big Five publishers approached me when Empty Chairs was first published. They required confirmation. I refused to give it. I will continue to protect the very few that remain, and the blessed memories of all that have passed. End of story.
Questions #4 – Briefly describe each of your books. What was your message or what was the purpose for writing each selection.
Great questions, I’ll try to be brief, but brevity is never going to be my strong point when I’m so passionate about what I do.
Empty Chairs … Was written because despite the passage of time (Four decades) I found that the naivety that existed about the evils of child abuse to be unbelievable. I just couldn’t understand how ordinary folks could remain so unaware, or be so unwilling to open their eyes to what could be happening right under their noses. In their own neighborhoods, their own streets. The general consensus appeared to be that this horror simply couldn’t exist in well to do families from upper crust areas. They needed to understand just how very wrong they were. I came from a wealthy home, I lived in a wealthy neighborhood, my abusers were well to do, and a few of those highly respected members of that community were the most abusive and sickest human beings of all I encountered. I wanted to help people understand that Child sexual abuse in all its perverted forms, knows NO social, political or religious boundaries.
Faint Echoes of Laughter… I ended Empty Chairs too abruptly. I should have continued with it. I allowed myself to be under contractual obligation to a publisher, and to be fair I also had reached a point in the writing when I fell too ill to continue at that point. I felt I had cheated those who deserved their stories to be told. I wrote Faint Echoes of Laughter to continue my promise both to them … and to my readers and myself.
Acts Beyond Redemption … Was written initially as a means to escape the nightmares evoked in my life by my non-fiction work. That’s how it began. Then I discovered to my absolute delight that I LOVED writing fiction. I immersed myself wholeheartedly into that adventure, the research, the characterizations, the whole nine yards. I found it to be a rewarding emotional experience. That book unleashed the writer in my soul.
Acts of Betrayal. The first book wouldn’t let me go. It deserved a sequel. I enjoyed the creating of it more than I can ever express.
Question #5-We know you recently released your sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption. The title is Acts of Betrayal. Therefore, will you take a breather between books or jump right back in? Do you break from writing at all?
No time left for breathers, Jo. I have too much left to do. Why take a break from the thing that fires my passions and nourishes my soul. I’m already well into my third book in both Non-fiction and fictional works.
Question # 6 – What are your next projects? Do you know what you wish to write next? Can you give us a teaser to increase our anticipation?
Next projects in rough order.
Non-Fiction: Book 3 in my Standing Tall & Fighting back series. Titled “Still Sassy at Sixty.” This is about an third completed. I discovered I had so much more to say. This will in all probability be the final book in the memoir. But then of course, I could always write again, when I hit seventy. Life has a way of adding to the book count. “Still Sassy at Sixty” is due for release early July 2017.
Fictional Works. Book 3 in my Unintended Consequences thriller series. Working title “Acts of Reckoning.” Newly started, and I have no idea just where it will lead me. I love the fact that it has such a plethora of possibilities for my imagination to run with. I hope to have ‘Acts Of Reckoning” out by January 2018.
Other Fictional works: Genre Romance. Yes, I did say romance. Eeek! Working Title: “Priceless” a Romance that will take the reader from Outback Australia to the glittering and shallow world of Hollywood.
Maddison Howard lost both her husband and their unborn child in a horrific car accident. Maddison a country girl from a small Australian country town is grief stricken and takes herself off to the farthest reaches of the Australian outback. Working on a large cattle station as a ‘Jillaroo’ she rides the enormous open spaces with the Jackaroo’s herding cattle to market, spending long hot months in the saddle and sleeping under the stars. Located finally by Lawyers acting for a Los Angeles based law firm she is stunned to discover that her dear childhood friend Carol Landers who has become a huge star of screen and stage has tragically died from Cancer. Maddison, together with the rest of the world is stunned to discover that Carol had a child out of wedlock. A three-year-old daughter named Danielle who has been hidden away on the late stars’ multi-million-dollar estate in Malibu under the care of the household staff sworn to secrecy by their late employer. Dannielle (Danni) has no idea that the pretty-lady that visited her from time-to-time was her mother. Maddison is further shocked to find that she has been named as the child’s sole guardian and beneficiary of the multi-million dollar estate, and an even larger trust fund.
The story covers Maddison’s journey to Los Angeles where she is met by the lawyers and hurried away to meet her new charge. She must decide within three-days whether to accept the guardianship and all it entails; or leave the little one to be cared for by the law-firm and a succession of Nannies and strangers.
The story covers Maddison’s initial arrival, her meeting with a sad and frightened little girl, plus the feeding frenzy of the crowds of press hungry for photographs of both she and the child. She is under the protection of three superbly trained bodyguards, headed by an ex-Navy seal in the shape of the disenchanted Tyler Bradford.
A kidnap attempt ensues. To ensure Danni’s safety Maddison decides to bring her to Australia where she and the bodyguards must secrete the child and themselves from detection. Can Maddison learn to open her heart again? Or will she continue to distance herself from a pain-filled-world? I anticipate “Priceless” to be out by Mid-2018.
As for a teaser? Sorry, Jo. It’s too soon yet to reveal more from any of the new works.
Thanks so much for having me here. I have rarely enjoyed an interview more.