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. 

Early Reviews of Where the Sun Rises…

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. 🙂

Have a fab day! Suz 🙂

My novel writing journey…

Soon, my novel Where the Sun Rises will be published. It has taken me four years to research, write and edit it, develop the characters, plot and travel to the middle east to gain on the ground knowledge.

My novel is set within the battle for Kobane that happened in 2014 and 2015, it went strangely for exactly six months and two days. In this battle, Kurdish fighters including Kurdish women of the YPJ fought ISIS to regain Kobane, a Kurdish homeland. The battle for Kobane was a pivotal battle that ultimately lead to the demise of Daesh in Syria and beyond.  Kurdish women have been fighting equally to men for the past two decades in Turkey, Iraq and Syria, yet the world knows little about these women.

This is the first novel which brings to life this battle, and from the unique perspective of the female fighters. Where the Sun Rises explores this successful battle through the eyes of two female Kurdish characters, Karin and Roza who choose to fight Daesh (ISIS) after their brother and husband are killed. These two best friends take up arms to defend their families and homeland. They then have to embark on a recovery mission for friends captured by Daesh.

How did I come up with this idea?

While working as a lecturer at UQ in Brisbane, in 2015, I became fascinated by the story of the women who took up arms in the battle of Kobane. I wondered what would it be like if we could see this battle from their point of view? I wanted to bring this alive to a western audience and shine a light on what these brave women are doing within the Kurdish forces in Syria.

Over the following three and a half years in writing this novel, I conducted more than 2,000 thousand hours of research and travelled to the middle east to see and experience as much of it for myself as I could. I watched documentaries, watched footage of battle and the frontline, read articles, looked at maps and researched culture and language to be as authentic as I could in recreating this reality. I wanted to express the stories of these phenomenal women who took a stand against ISIS and fought ferociously and in the battle of Kobane.

Masada, Israel

UN Peace Keeper Soldiers, Adrian was talking to me about with the war in Syria, this is at the Golan Heights, border with Syria. This picture was taken in 2016 when the war was still raging over the border. A week after this picture was taken a few Daesh men crossed the border and were killed.

I wrote part of this novel while undertaking a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Macquarie University (graduating in 2017). The manuscript received high praise from its external readers:

Dr Toby Davidson: Macquarie University Lecturer,

“The manuscript is compellingly written, well-paced dramatically with a strong research component that helps it ‘feel real’ at a sensory as well as at a logistical level. High creative achievement is evenly spread across the manuscript. Sensory memories accessed through scents and tastes are used brilliantly (for example an orange evoking a memory of a sibling’s death and the return to real life in the markets). The physical strain, tenderness and revulsion of war are superbly captured… Ultimately, this is a worthy story, written with care and dedication. It is an ambitious, compassionate and powerful novel.”

 Dr Lynne Spender, UTS Lecturer

“The author 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…Action sequences are described in detail and are convincing. The author 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. Recollections of peaceful days and olive groves are neatly woven into the narrative, as are the reassuring pots of tea… This is an admirable piece of work.”

GET YOUR COPY OF MY BOOK – YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT HERE.

Its available in print and e-book on Amazon and many other outlets.

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO PRE-ORDER! It is available for $1.99 at the moment until I launch it and then it will go up.