New novel – Sarah Johns…

Hey everyone,

During these lock down times and times of quarantine I have been trying to make the most of more time to write. I feel this is a unique time where I can get the whole first draft of my next novel written. This novel is quite different from the last novel I wrote which required research about absolutely everything. My new novel is in first person, I am enjoying writing with first person as I haven’t done this for years now. This story is also about someone who is Australian and also someone who is a journalist – therefore it is easier for me to write this book. This character comes from Sydney, which is where I am from. Of course this is her story, not mine, but it is a lot easier to write this book in many ways. Though no doubt as I progress there will be challenges – there always is. Each book has its own particular hurdles, however, I am enjoying this process and I have now written 36,460 words of this next book.

I always knew Where the Sun Rises (WTSR) might be the hardest book I attempted to write, due to the fact that I had to research everything, including; culture, on the ground war facts, conditions in Syria, how it felt to be there as well as focalising from another cultural point of view, and from two points of view. It was an ambitious feat 😉 I am glad I wrote it. But I just wanted to say I am enjoying not having to research absolutely everything. 🙂 Though of course there is some research I will have to do, though nowhere near as much as WTSR.

Anyway, stay tuned for this next book. Also, I hope you are able to do some creative things in this time. Whatever you like to do. I have also been knitting, buying pot plants, exercising a bit and drawing. 😀 So, go forth and be creative. Thanks for reading! Remember, you’re not alone. 😀 Take care, Suz

Bilgola Beach, Sydney.

Freedom Writing -Journal Free for 3 days…

Hey guys, I am giving away my book Freedom Writing for free for the next four days.

Monday June 15-Wednesday June 18.

Feel free to download it from Amazon. 🙂 These two books talk about the amazing power of writing therapy that is available to everyone even if you use single words to release your emotion. I wrote these books to help people find the freedom I have found in writing down my emotions and releasing unwanted memories or trauma or simple everyday emotions.

Now, they are free for a few days, so take advantage of it and download them. Try it and you will see the power of writing therapy!

Go well today and always, stay well. Kind regards, 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.”

Where the Sun Rises…Kurdish Sun…

Hello,

I wanted to write about the title of my new novel Where the Sun Rises, and say that if or when you read the book you will know why I named the book this.

My reasons for naming the book this, are not what one would think straight away. After I named the book, I found out that the Kurdish flag had a sun in the middle of it! So, Where the Sun Rises can represent where the Kurdish people rose in the successful battle against ISIS in Kobane.

Also, after I named the book I found out that the Kurds have a website called the The Rising Sun, which represented their struggle for more autonomous regions, and how their nation is rising. To me, this was a sign that I had named the book the right title, for so many reasons.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day! 🙂

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.

Syrian Kurdish women my novel is about…

YPG à Kobané7
 Some of the women from YPJ Brigade, at the battle of Kobane, February 2015
4 February 2015, 23:08:21
Source: VOA [Public domain]

Hey guys,

In light of recent events in Syria, I must mention that it is an attrocity that the area where I based this novel is now being attacked by Turkey. Below, is my blog about where my novel came from. But I must say I am extremely concerned and incensed that the Kurdish people in this area who fought Daesh are now being abandoned and have to try to survive another attack. The battle my novel is about was the battle for Kobane which is on the border with Turkey.

About the Battle for Kobane

Within the first month of when Daesh surrounded the town the world watched on, but no one helped the Kurds – thousands of people left. I remember watching it on the news. There were approximately a thousand civilians who stayed, and they only had rudimentary weapons in which to fight Daesh who had tanks and heavy military gear. This is why there were Kurdish protests all around the world for someone to step in. In the end Barrack Obama did act and the US air strikes did help the Kurds after one month of fighting on their own. They held Daesh off by giving their lives in street to street battles. There were a large amount of women soldiers who enlisted for this battle. This is what compelled and inspired me to write this novel.

This is the real detail of this book, based on real facts of the courageous fight made by a combination of Kurdish forces, including many women. These people were not soldiers to begin with.

I hope you enjoy my character’s stories, Karin and Roza who feel compelled to join the battle to defend their families and their land.

This battle was the first successful battle against Daesh and led to its demise in Syria. My book Where the Sun Rises is available on Amazon, in e-book or print format.

“Where the Sun Rises is an ambitious, compassionate and powerful novel. Sensory memories accessed through scents and tastes are used brilliantly to evoke the physical strain, tenderness and revulsion of war for female soldiers in the fight against ISIS. Their story deserves a far wider readership and Strong’s achievement lies in her ability to take us into their dangerous world.”…
Dr Toby Davidson, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie University, Sydney.

“Powerful and credible. An eye-opener to a story we rarely hear.”

Dr Lynne Spender, UTS Lecturer, Sydney. 

My novel Where the Sun Rises Released today!

After three years of research, writing, editing and travel finally my novel, Where the Sun Rises is launched today! Where the Sun Rises follows the story of two Kurdish women who take up arms against ISIS in the Syrian town of Kobane. I’m very excited to finally release my novel.

Click on the link below to order the e-book, it is available in print as well. Contact me for further info about how to get a hold of it. 🙂 Thanks so much! 🙂 Kind regards, Suz (It is available in other countries on Amazon and is available in print as well, it will become more widely available as well :))

Here are some reviews:

‘Where the Sun Rises is an ambitious, compassionate and powerful novel. Sensory memories accessed through scents and tastes are used brilliantly to evoke the physical strain, tenderness and revulsion of war for female soldiers in the fight against ISIS. Their story deserves a far wider readership and Strong’s achievement lies in her ability to take us into their dangerous world.’

Dr Toby Davidson, Lecturer, Macquarie University, Sydney.

“Strong has taken care to accurately present the reality of the lives of Kurdish women and the dramatic choices they make as fighters defending their land. The story is remarkable for the authenticity of the detailed portrayal of the geography, the intimate lives of the women fighters and the ferocity of the killing in which they are involved…Strong makes good use of the senses to convey the sounds and smells of battle and death and contrasts it with the delights of singing and dancing, the smell of freshly baked bread and the taste of goat’s cheese. The extraordinary amount of research undertaken pays dividends. Recollections of peaceful days and olive groves are neatly woven into the narrative, as are the reassuring pots of tea.

Powerful and credible, Where the Sun Rises is an eye-opener to a story we rarely hear.’

Dr Lynne Spender, Lecturer, UTS, Sydney.

The women I wrote my novel about…

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/27/homepage2/kurdish-female-fighters/index.html

(News Source: CNN Website)

Hey guys, thanks for stopping by. These are examples of the phenomenal women from the YPJ and Kurdish forces I wrote my new novel, Where the Sun Rises, about. None of these women appear in my novel but I wanted to show you the real faces and stories of some of the women.

Their stories inspired and captivated me and I wanted to write from their point of view. Therefore I spent four years and more than 2000 of hours of research to seek to capture this point of view. There has been a lot of journalism done about these women, but no one had written a novel about their phenomenal fight against Daesh so I thought to myself, “what if we could see this war from their eyes?” I also wanted to show the world that bravery was wearing a female uniform and that Daesh were running from these women.

I contacted the Women of Rojava YPJ women on twitter and they wrote this supportive statement of my novel.

“We Kurdish people are proud of people like you, that are supporting us and are in solidarity with us. It means a lot for us. We know that we have solidarity from all around the world and that makes us stronger. We women are fighting here for all the women not only in Rojava- Syria.. Your book is amazing sister. Thank you so much, solidarity greetings from Rojava-Northern-Syria.”

Response from YPJ Media Centre. The woman could not be named for security purposes.

I am thankful to Hassan Somboli as well from the Brisbane Kurdish Association who assisted me with language and culture. I was excited to be able to communicate with the YPJ Media Centre who were very supportive of what I was doing. I also communicated with Claudia Al Minyah and Hanna Bohman, a Canadian woman who joined the YPJ and fought in Syria. Hanna read my book and enjoyed it.

So much work, care and energy has gone into this novel. I am excited to release it to the world in October. 🙂

Click on the below link to pre-order your copy.

Have a beautiful day.

Kind regards, Suz