New Reviews – Where the Sun Rises…

Sunrise in Kobane, Syria.

A story of devastating loss and ultimate triumph

“This is a war story unlike any I’ve read. Thoroughly researched with easy to read prose, I was initially intrigued by a story about female soldiers: what makes vibrant young women risk everything by taking up arms and leaving families already decimated by war? As each woman is drawn into the conflict we learn more about them: their culture, their land, their history and yes, why they take up arms. While we learn about how they train and fight, this was not the highlight for me. With each new chapter I was drawn deeper into the lives of these truly courageous women bravely confronting the horrors of ISIS. Together they suffer devastating losses but also experience the deepest love of friendship, sisterhood and sacrifice. The story builds to a tragic climax of seemingly senseless loss that will bring tears to many readers (as it did for me). But the final chapters show us the results of all they suffered, made all the more poignant by the historical truth it’s based on. My life is richer having read this novel. Definitely recommend it!” 

Amazon Customer

“A great account of what the Kurdish women and men achieved against a vile enemy. Not just a book about conflict but the conflicts that these women faced. A book that well documented the human struggles of all wars. I highly recommend it to all modern history buffs.”

Angus McGeachie

No. 3 on the Red List, Coverfly…

Hey guys,

I was excited to see that my book had reached number 3 on Action Manuscript of the month and is Number 4 – Action Manuscript of the year.

This is on coverfly which is a database for screenwriters to host their screenplays or manuscripts.

“Our goal is to become the most efficient way for writers to be discovered by the entertainment industry, and the most trusted guide for emerging writers to achieve their goals…In addition to hosting your projects for free, Coverfly uses your project’s reviews from submissions to top-tier festivals, competitions, fellowships and coverage services to provide a measure of our confidence that an Industry professional would be interested in your screenplay.”

So, it is nice to have this opportunity to have my book up on this site. 🙂 My place has been earned by being the semi-finalist for the Cinematic Book Contest with Screencraft that I was informed of a few weeks ago.

Anyway, thanks for reading! If you’re curious about my book Where the Sun Rises it is available everywhere online in print and ebook. I will include an amazon link, but you can get it in print on Book Depository all around the world.

Have a great day! Kind regards, Suz

Expectant New Year! 2020

Hey guys,

It’s this time again – when we all seek to celebrate the advent of a New Year. I love this time of year and I seek to reflect on what went before this and then be expectant for the year to come. Or in the very least focused again. 🙂

This year, of course had many challenges within it, but also many adventures. I am excited that my book Where the Sun Rises was launched this year, I travelled to Singapore to see my friend get married and I was part of an Indigenous program in schools which opened up new avenues to help Indigenous youth. I met amazing people this year, and there were also areas of pain as well, as in everything there is darkness and light. In life, and in any writing, life is full of difficulties but also a lot of wonder and awe, and peace.

I am looking forward with expectation for the New Year. I will be teaching part time at university again, working in the Indigenous program and I have started writing my second novel. This second novel is already a lot easier, in the sense that it is closer to my life. It is about one of my characters in my first novel. It will be set in Sydney, Syria and the Sunshine Coast, which I have never done before. It will be so interesting. 🙂 I am also writing from a different point of view, to the first novel, which is still being decided at the moment. 🙂

I am excited to explore this narrative about Sarah Johns, who is from my first book, Where the Sun Rises. In 2020, I am expectant that there will be many adventures, obstacles, fun, excitement, as well as joy and happiness.

For all of my friends, loved ones, family and people I know, I wish you a beautiful celebration tonight and a challenging, exciting and awe inspiring New Year. 🙂 Kind regards, Suz

Courage…in 2020!

Hi guys,

Yesterday, I was reflecting on the journey of writing my novel I released in October, 2019. The central idea I had for this novel four years ago was to explore the idea of courage, and to reject the notion that it is purely a male characteristic. I have pondered this for a long time how women in my life have showed so much courage and some men have not showed the same courage. A few friends have told of stories when they faced a partner that was violent and how they were not scared at all of them.

A juvenile example of this is when I was a young kid I loved going on those little rides, like the cars in the shopping centres, but my brother only wanted to sit on them and was too scared for them to actually go. When I was a three year old, I walked off into the Australian bush to go explore and find a dam that was on our vast outback property and my brother said he couldn’t go with me. I had two dogs with me and I reached the dam and then realised I was very lost. Consequently, my family had to come and find me, miraculously they did find me and I was okay. I am not sure if this is courage or just a desire for adventure and not knowing what I was doing. (haha). But still…

Also, I have heard many stories from my friends who were fearless towards men fighting etc and stepped into situations like this. After I experienced domestic violence once, since that I have found myself in a couple of situations where I have stepped in between two men fighting or a man victimising a woman. I will always go towards helping in these situations as I remember that feeling that there was no one to help.

So, the notion of courage I always felt had been mosty unrecognised in women. However, in 2015 I became enthralled by the extreme courage shown by the Kurdish women fighting Daesh in Syria.

For more than three years, I have lived and breathed this novel and been with these women. They inspired me to walk in courage, and every time I felt afraid of something I thought of what they sacrificed and what perils they faced. Then I was able to do somethings and overcome.

These women still live with me and will always be with me. The women in my novel are based on a lot of research I conducted, but they are fictional. I created their back stories, personality and characters. These characters will always be with me throughout out my life. In Where the Sun Rises I sought to reflect the courage I saw in these phenomenal Kurdish women, but also that I see around me in my female friends and I hope to reflect myself.

I think that coming to the end of 2019, I am reflecting on the year that was, and also how thinking about these women spurred me into many things this year. I wish to continue to take this inspiration from these women – and it is for men as well, into 2020. I am so keen for a New Year, this year had many challenges, but was also glorious as well.

Let’s move in to the New Year with Courage! Bring it on! Thanks for reading! Suz 🙂

Where the Sun Rises free for 2 days…

Hey guys, if you are curious about my book Where the Sun Rises and in the spirit of Christmas – I am giving it away for two days. 🙂

Feel free to download it and read and review if you an on amazon. 🙂

Thanks heaps for reading! It’s a joy to communicate with you all.

Suz

‘Budding Nadine Gordimer…’

A very kind review on Amazon.com for Where the Sun Rises. 🙂

Espionage Lover

5.0 out of 5 stars

A Budding Nadine Gordimer

Reviewed Amazon in the United States on December 17, 2019

“”Where The Sun Rises” by Suzanne Strong confronts the soul in ways reminiscent of Nadine Gordimer’s writing. The author’s ardent prose follows an earthy drumbeat that resonates in the manner of Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” yet it is made all the more poignant by Strong’s empathetic touch.

The story unwinds the most recent tragedy for the Kurdish people in Syria seen through the eyes of two women friends. Daesh beheadings and atrocities perpetrated against their family members, friends and neighbors enrage Karin and Roza and provoke them to enlist in the Kurdish Women’s Brigade where they make war employing guts and daring.

Experience the ISIS siege of Kobane on the ground and feel the way a woman brings the tragedy of the war in Syria and the ongoing struggle of the Kurdish people to life.”

Recent reviews – Where the Sun Rises…

Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars

This book has it all!

October 15, 2019

A wonderful story that pulls at your heart strings while reminding you how strong and determined women can be. The author puts you right in the middle of their dilemas, their joys and sorrows while beautifully weaving in the culture of the land. I very much enjoyed this book!

Mrs. Alison Quigley

5.0 out of 5 stars

A timely story about Kobane

October 15, 2019Format:

With Turkish forces invading northern Syria, the release of Strong’s new novel Where The Sun Rises offers a timely and necessary insight into the conflicts of this region.

The focus in Strong’s novel is the village of Kobane, a Syrian town within walking distance of the southern Turkish border. In contemporary times – late 2019 – forces backed by Turkey are amassing to drive out the Kurds, but back in 2014-15, when the novel is set, the Kurds are pushing back against Daesh, an Islamic terrorist group. Although the conflicts are not identical, there are correspondences in what it means to be Kurdish against oppressive forces driven by religious imperatives.

We enter the story when Daesh are advancing towards Kobane. Karin, who is a medical student, is estranged from her fiancé, and is in the final stages of completing her medical degree. In a story that runs parallel to this, we are introduced to Roza, married mother of one, and teacher of English at a local school. It is soon evident the woman who are the focus of these alternating chapters have been strong allies in childhood. A decade later they still remain friends, despite their diverging paths.

When Karin’s brother, Mani, announces he’s off to join the war against Daesh, she laments that he lacks the imposing physique of a soldier.

“His shoulders seemed smaller and bonier than before, vulnerable somehow. She wanted him to be large and bulky, and felt a terrible dread of wanting to protect him but knowing she couldn’t.” Mani leaves for the war and when he doesn’t make it through, Karin decides to stand in place and fight in his honour. There is a female militia group she already knows about, and now she treks off to enlist. On her journey there she reflects on the irony of her decision: her life won’t be dedicated to saving lives – as it would have been in her medical career – but instead will be dedicated to taking lives away. We forgive Karin’s decision because it is clear she has so few choices. The border into Turkey is closed, the war puts a stop to her degree, and her family’s lives are endangered. Good people defend their territory even if it costs them their lives.

Roza wrestles with a similarly difficult decision. She has seen her husband go off to war and the school where she teaches is emptied of students. When she learns her husband has been killed, she struggles to be an effective parent for little Yez. Overcome with grief, she believes the best course of action is to take arms against her pain, and fight to obliterate the loss of her husband. Leaving Yez with relatives, she, too, joins the female militia. Roza and Karin meet at the military training camp and are grateful each has the other for this next harrowing chapter of their lives.

The experience of war brings Roza and Karin closer together, but ultimately the friendship implodes in a defining incident which is both harrowing and emotionally powerful.

Despite the central focus being war, there are keen moments of levity. In the midst of crossfire, we duck into a local bakery – still operating throughout the conflict. Tension is ratcheted down when characters cut loose with singing, dancing and the tembur. There is even an intervention from a gaggle of ducks.

“ “Chh, chh, chh,” Roza said to the ducks, getting them to move along, and guiding them into the nearest yard, relieved they didn’t have any young with them.”

It stands as a testament to Strong’s writing that while she has no direct experience of war, readers still feel immersed in an authentic experience. Take Strong’s description of Roza’s first experience killing Daesh:

“It was strange to see a connection between her fingers, some wood, metal, and powder, and taking a man’s life. Instantly she felt sick, an emptiness she had never experienced seemed to open up inside like a cavernous ravine, as she watched his deep thick blood oozing into the dirt.”

Key scenes are rendered in simple but powerful prose.

“Your daddy became a martyr today,” she told him. “He gave his life for us.” She could barely say the words; they seemed hollow. They embraced the dirt of the street. …It was as if they were the only people in the world.”

If you are curious about how women are inculcated into army life, if you are engaged with feminist empowerment stories, or if you enjoy learning about new cultures through a touchstone like war, I strongly recommend this novel. The story also serves as a sobering reminder of how fortunate most of us are not to be embroiled in conflicts so persistent and harrowing.

Highly recommended.