I just wanted to share some exciting news about my book Where the Sun Rises. I submitted it to the Screencraft Cinematic Book Contest late last year and I have made the semi-finalist list. 🙂
I am very excited. 🙂 Thanks for your support and for reading. 🙂
Kind regards, Suz
This is the email I received this morning:
We’re excited to announce the Semifinalists of the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition!
Selected from over 1,200 submissions, we are pleased to present the semifinalists for the ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition. We’re excited to be exploring these excellent books and to have received a slate of so many compelling works.
This year’s jury is comprised of literary agents from The Gersh Agency, United Talent Agency, and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Stay tuned for the upcoming announcement of the finalists and winners here and on our Twitter and Facebook pages within the next few weeks!
Suzanne Strong’s affecting novel induced me to shed tears, swept me up in the moment as though I was, indeed, on the ground in Kurdish Syria, and had me on tenterhooks throughout.
I had the pleasure of reading ‘Where the Sun Rises’ over the New Year. On more than one occasion, I found myself with goose bumps and hairs upstanding – unable to put this book down for fear of missing what happens next.
“Freedom crowns the heads of the free but only slaves know it’s value. In our society, being a wife or a daughter means you are not a person in your own right…”
This novel is much more than a story about war. Though the war against Isis provides the motivation of the action; this is primarily an intimate tale of two best friends who yearn for peace and equality and are prepared to sacrifice all they have to achieve it.
Sometimes we can switch off emotionally from the endless news cycle of wars in distant lands such as the fight against Isis in Syria. It seems so far away and our lives seem so different. The beauty of this novel is in its rich exploration of the characters of Roza and Karin. We come to know them and their rich culture and to recognise parts of them in us. Their story is told with compassion, feminine understanding and gentle humour.
Suzanne Strong’s skill and thorough research takes you deep into the lives and struggles of these Kurdish women in a memorable, compelling and emotionally touching read.
“Suzanne Strong has written a very powerful book that will tug at your heart. This is a story about the brave women who fought against the Daesh to save their town. An eye-opener and a tearjerker to the way they sacrificed themselves for their comrades. This is a book that you won’t want to put down until you finish it.”
“‘Where the Sun Rises’ was difficult to put down. It’s a gripping read, amazingly researched and written with great sensitivity. I highly recommend as a narrative on a difficult but vitally important topic.”
“This is a one-of-a-kind, fantastically ambitious novel. I’d never considered the realities of women in war, let alone their personal, emotional and familial stories. Suzanne Strong has provided us with dramatic insight into this, with the grim reality of war counterpointed with sensual tastes and textures for relief and cultural flavour – a backdrop to these women’s hellish predicament.
What does it mean to fight against an enemy when you don’t have a recognised homeland?
A remarkable and necessary tale of women’s friendship in war, and the Kurdish struggle for a safe place called ‘home’.”
“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 dilemmas, their joys and sorrows while beautifully weaving in the culture of the land. I very much enjoyed this book!”
Amazon Customer – 5.0 out of 5 stars
“Having just read Where the Sun Rises by Suzanne Strong I am very impressed that it’s been launched when Turkey just evicted the Kurdish people – this is SO the book. Female fearless fighters – standing up for what they believe. So well written it feels you are really there. Recommend it highly. “
“Loved this book. It took me to a place I will never be, amongst people I will never meet, but stories about this part of world often come up in the news. Until now it has been very easy to disconnect from the horror stories coming from these places. Now that I feel I have been there along side these remarkable women I will certainly connect on a higher level to the problems in this part of the world. Ms Strong has a very detailed style of writing which makes it easy to be totally immersed in the lives of the characters. Would highly recommend this read. “
“A wonderfully unique read, highlighting the horrors of war while exploring the relationships between women determined to fight and protect their region. At times harrowing and heart-wrenching but also filled with hope. Well worth a read.”
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.”
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.
‘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.
My novel will be released in a few days time. I am excited to finally be introducing my new novel baby to the world. 🙂
It will be available widely in print as well, on Amazon and all other online outlets. Stay tuned. 🙂 You can pre-order today or wait for two days until it is released. 🙂
For the first time since someone very close to me died in 2010, I have written a prose version of his death to be included in the new writing I am doing. After writing my first novel which includes nothing of myself in it, except possibly the common experiences of being a mother and little nuances of this–I did not include much about myself at all in that novel. I loved that and that it wasn’t part of my life.
Every part of the first novel was so far from my life. This second novel is also not my life but there may be a few elements of my own life that I will include. They always say “write what you know”, I don’t think this is a hard and fast rule. I think write what youdon’t know – just as much as what you know. But for this novel I have just finished writing a scene about the death of someone close to me that will go into my second novel. It is good writing therapy to get this out and onto paper as it happened. I left out some detail, and I am sure I will develop it further. It was highly emotional, and brought up the devastation I felt. But I know once this has settled I will feel released.
I just wanted to share this with my readers, that this is a full on experience. One that I was afraid of confronting recently, as it would make me live those emotions again, but I am glad I did it. I cried and I wrote and I remembered. But it is okay. This is how writing therapy works, it will be okay. It is much better to confront these emotions when you are ready than putting it off and thinking it will go away.
This scene and plot will be integrated into the second novel – and many other elements will have nothing to do with my life. I am enjoying this process of exploring different methods of writing, including the fact of writing a chapter that is a lot later in the book.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that if you have something from your life that you want to experience release from, write it out honestly and not for an audience and you will experience freedom. I am also just fascinated by writing this novel completely differently to my first novel.
Last night I finished the book Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman. Wow, what an ending. Ackerman carefully and slowly builds the story and the reader’s connection to the characters. The main character, Aziz is a young Afghani boy who is forced to make a decision when his brother is maimed by a bomb that goes off in the market. His older brother is Ali, a sibling who cares and provides for his brother when they lose both of their parents in conflict. The style is reminiscent of Hemingway in its sparse, simple yet powerful imagery. I enjoy this style. Hemingway is my hero, and I recently finished A Farewell to Arms as well. These books also helped me as I have been writing my book about female soldiers in war.
Green on Blue was devastatingly powerful at the end. I feel like it built on the tension so well, there was this moment where the action began to escalate and culminated in an ending that was both tragic but also understandable for Aziz. Twice I was reduced to tears by Aziz’s relationship with an old man he bonds with and also with his caring, older brother, Ali. I can’t write too much without revealing things, but believe me the novel is worth reading. It was devastatingly profound at the end.
This is a novel that examines why people go to war. Ackerman fought in Afghanistan and shows a profound understanding of the complexity in the conflict in this country. I emailed Ackerman when I returned from New York to tell him how I loved his book and ask him a question. He answered my email and I was very touched that he made that effort.
Green on Blue is a profound work of art. I was blown away by the end of the novel, in its sad reality, but also the love that was present as well.
I must now say that I am reading a book that does not involve war, as my previous books I have read were: The Kite Runner, A Farewell to Arms, Green on Blue and Far from the Madding Crowd (which is a profound and beautifully written book). Now, I am seeking something light and comedic so I got a book for my birthday, Marian Keyes, Sushi For Beginners. It’s good to completely change it up and read something more lighthearted. I am going to read Dickens after this.
Check out Green on Blue, it was very powerful. 🙂 Thanks for reading. Have a great day.
When you’re a writer, it’s hard to visually represent more than 2000 hours of research over three years, and many hours of writing, editing, and even travelling that went into producing my novel. But, here are a couple of pics of my 240 page novel (manuscript), Where the Sun Rises. It is sometimes good to look at your work in this way, in its entirety.
I have already mentioned about how I am going to the New York Pitch Conference, but I wanted to talk a little bit about my novel Where the Sun Rises. In 2015 I became fascinated by the women soldiers fighting in Syria against ISIS. After watching a lot of documentaries on these amazing women, I began to think, imagine if we could see things through their eyes. What if we could feel their decisions and why they felt they had no choice but to take up arms. What if one of the women was a mother? How did they show so much courage? What was this idea of courage anyway? It was obviously not just a male trait. There was a lot of coverage of female soldiers in non fiction, but nothing in fiction and told from their point of view. I began to research and completed thousands of hours of watching documentaries and reading articles or information about Syria, culture, Kurdish language, being in combat, weaponry, history, geography, and modern life.
I decided I needed to travel to the region so I could feel the air around me, see the colours of the middle east, experience the desert, taste the food, and see directly into Syria. In 2016, I traveled to Israel to be on the border, the Golan Heights, so I could look into Syria and I did. It was devastated. It was flattened, the landscape was barren and the buildings decimated and desolate. My trip to Israel was profound and enlightening and it filled in many sensory details that you can’t do through research. Using this experience and my extensive other research I continued to write. I was writing my novel for my masters under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Giggs at Macquarie University. This was a refining and rewarding experience. Following completion of this and receiving a good mark, I continued to write and develop the narrative.
After this, in 2017 I consulted the Kurdish community in Brisbane and was able to get feedback about the Kurdish language. These contacts all stated they were extremely happy and honoured that I was writing about the Kurdish women in this struggle. I contacted the YPJ Women’s soldiers on Facebook and received messages back that they were very honoured and pleased I was standing in solidarity with them. Then I was given a few other contacts on Twitter I will be following up within the soldiers and also more groups in Australia.
My novel Where the Sun Rises, is about two Kurdish women who are forced to choose between their families and fighting ISIS. When ISIS closes in on their hometown of Kobani and kills their brother and husband, Karin a medical student and Roza, an English Teacher and mother, choose to take up arms. Once joining the battle, death is a spectre that hangs over them every day. After they discover their best friend’s sister Ashti has been taken into sex slavery, Karin and Roza find themselves in even greater jeopardy in conducting rescue missions. A western journalist, Sarah and her camera technician Marcel cover the dangerous battle throughout. When many die around them and friends begin to pay the ultimate sacrifice, their resolve becomes shaken and Karin and Roza learn what courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice and love for their homeland may really cost them.
(This is a shortened blurb, a longer one will come in the future. Today, I registered the copyright to my novel in the USA. Yay!).
After I had written the novel, I looked up pitch conferences in New York and found this excellent one, the New York Pitch Conference. I told my writer friend, Alison Quigley about this and we are now attending together which will be amazing! Then I received some funding from the Sunshine Coast Council and Arts Queensland to pitch my novel to the conference. I am very excited and grateful for this!
I am passionate about this novel and telling the stories of these brave, strong, women who took up arms to defend themselves in Kobani. This particular battle was completely successful and was fought by 85% women. It is an amazing story of the friendship of these women more than anything. Their courage, loyalty and friendship.
This is a brief summary of my novel, as I have not talked too much about the plot yet. Now, as I am going to the New Pitch Conference I thought I would be more specific.
Who knows what will happen with the Pitch Conference, hopefully it will lead to positive publishing connections, but either way this novel will be published in the future.
Courage is my main theme for the novel I am writing about the brave Kurdish women who fought Daesh in Kobani and won. The courage I see in them –inspired me to be courageous to travel to the middle east on my own, for research and travel in 2016.
I am galloping towards the end of this novel and am constantly spurred on by the story of these women and my central characters. I have had to do extensive research to capture the reality of war for these women. I have spent hundreds of hours of research over more than two years of writing this novel. I have a few more chapters to write and I am itching to be able to do this around work and being a mother.
I follow Hemingway’s advice however, he recommends to always leave water in the well for the next day of writing. I seek to do this. I seek to stop writing while I am still inspired and, in the zone, so that I can continue this passion the following day.
After I have finished these chapters I know there will be more rewriting as every author has to do, but I am excited to get to this complete manuscript. There may be more scenes to be added, but I will know the story arc, character development and texturing is done for what I want to do at this point.
I am excited. Then starts the process of rewriting and then sending out to agents and publishers. Writers, authors need to remember this is a long process. I am prepared for it but I am excited to be finishing the manuscript.
Every writer must be prepared for more rewriting than they realise, every good author does this. At university I was shown pictures of all the corrections made to The Great Gatsby, which encouraged me a lot. This book, is a triumph, a perfect novel in my mind. So, let’s remember that all the great writers had to rewrite, so that is part of the process. However, soon I will know that the manuscript will be done to what I want to create. Then we will see. Then I can send it out.
Anyway, back to the theme of courage, my novel looks at the idea that only men are courageous and in this narrative it is clear that women are courageous. In some cases, more courageous than men. But it is not a competition, just to say that women are courageous all over the world and have to deal with many serious threats to their lives and wellbeing. This novel is inspired by these real-life women who have fought and given their lives and shown amazing courage beyond comprehension! They also remind me to be courageous in my novel writing as well, attempting to write about something I have not experienced, within a culture I have not grown up with. Courageous or silly, I don’t know. (Haha)
But be courageous in your writing! It’s worth it.
I will let you know when I finish the manuscript. Thank you for reading. 🙂