Confessions…and I want to play hookie

I want to play hookie…with my new WIP that is. I have been stuck in an editing foxhole for months now on my current WIP and really I am getting fed up with myself. I have a problem. I am a perfectionist and I cannot stop myself editing and editing and editing… Is there a perfectionist anonymous group out there or an editing anonymous group? Maybe there should be! There could be a 13 step recovery process…OH and I detest synopsis writing! Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with the editing process or with a perfectionist gene?

One of the first steps of curing a problem and recovering from it is in accepting the problem and admitting that you have a problem.

Confession: I am a Perfectionist and my problem is that once I start looking for errors and editing…I cannot stop.

I have no idea if there is a group called Perfectionist Anonymous but I have decided that writers like me desperately need a group like this for recovering editing addicts. We need an intervention and we need people we can call when the urge to continue editing ad infinitum hits us. It is a quagmire of sinking sand that sucks us in even as we try to clamber out. The more we struggle against it, the deeper we sink.

So every recovery program and intervention has a step by step list of dos and don’ts in the steps to becoming cured. So I have come up with a 13 step recovery program for all writers who suffer from Editorix Perfectionist.

13 Steps to Overcoming Editorix Perfectionism

  1. Say the Words: I am a Perfectionist and suffer from perfectionism – the neurotic need to find error and fault and correct and recorrect and still recorrect.
  2. Ask for an intervention to be held by more saner individuals than your neurotic self.
  3. Step away from the manuscript, now on it’s umpteenth draft.
  4. Close the folder entitled WIP – Nth edit.
  5. Repeat to yourself ” Perfectionism is a sly form of Procrastination” – stick this note on every available surface.
  6. Type “The End” on current Nth draft of WIP – and mean it.
  7. Hide all red pens, correction fluid and erasers.
  8. You are a writer not an editor. You have no sane moments nor objective moments when it comes to your WIP. Doctors are not allowed to treat their own family members so writers should not be allowed to edit their own works without assistance and intervention.
  9. The first edit is allowed, the second edit is treading on dangerous ground and the third edit is an edit gone too far.
  10. Surround yourself with notes telling you: You are not useless. You do not write rubbish. Your work is fit for more than a trash can – both on the computer desktop and near the desk. Perfectionism is an unattainable myth as it is as the opposite of humanity – since you are a human, you are imperfect anyway – pointless to fight it.
  11. Surround yourself with critique partners, writing buddies and other writers who know what you struggle against and who know that the writer’s fragile ego is our own worst enemy. Do not be afraid to say you need help before you destroy both your sanity and your manuscript.
  12. Step away from the edited WIP and take a walk with a notebook. Write down the plot for the next manuscript.
  13. Begin writing the new manuscript and find refreshment and creative fulfillment in throwing yourself head-first into a creative binge. (No editing allowed at least until You have typed “the End” on the first draft!)

So this week I am going to be closing the editing folder on Ring a Ring o’ Roses (Nth draft). I am submitting the synopsis and query and then I will leave the rest to the fates that be. I am opening my notebook and starting work on The Tattooist. Editor Kim is going away – she had no business being here for so long anyway. Writer Kim is returning. I am a writer. I am not an Editor. Saner individuals than me become editors, I will stick to what I do best and that is WRITING not EDITING. To be clear I am a recovering not a cured Editorix Perfectionist. This is a continuing struggle.

I am going to do more than play Hookie with The Tattooist. I am going to have a full-blown affair with The Tattooist. The urge to write must take control over the urge to edit. I cannot wait for that delicious feeling of playing hookie and that first blush of the first draft.

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with the editing process or with a perfectionist gene?

Sign up here _______ if you would like to become a member of Editorix Perfectionism Anonymous.

Watch Brene` Brown on The Power of Vulnerability

Excerpts…”I am surrounded by people who kinda believe that life’s messy love it, and I am more the “life’s messy: clean it up, organize it and put in into a pinto box.” [👍 ]

“…lean into the discomfort of the work and I am like, you know, Knock discomfort upside its head and move it over…”

“I want to separate bravery and courage for you for a moment. Courage: The original definition of courage when it first came into the English language; it’s from the latin word “cor” meaning “heart” and the original definition was: is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…and so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect…”

Writing is that for me…the courage to be imperfect and to be comfortable in my own skin while being naked in my vulnerability. 👌

#CoffinHop | Something creeps across the floor boards….

the gory details:

3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)
Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 2011
***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***

My Contest – Prize Time

My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?

So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.

The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.) 

The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.

You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.

The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November. Multiple entries are welcome.


Thursday = Terrifying Fears

Even the bravest of us have strong, irrational fears that are almost instinctive in nature. These are fears that literally petrify us to paralysis. They say facing you fears will conquer them but not these fears. These fears, however irrational, are the exception to that proverb. So I thought this hop was the perfect opportunity to explore those crazy phobias that paralyze us: Why are we scared of them? Is it a common fear? Where does the fear originate from in society? I am going to share my phobias with you – but only if you promise to not use them to paralyze me or cause me to have a heart attack. So this blog post is very much a trust issue. I trust you to go gently with my phobia and you trust me to not hit you with something if you do try to use these phobias against me. I am also going to share some common phobias and some very odd phobias. 

Firstly, here are a couple of my irrational fears:

My #1 Phobia = Scelerophibia

I battle this fear every night of my life. It is the fear of burglars or bad men.

This fear may be rational in some cases but in most cases it is irrational. But this fear can spin out not just from being scared at night but by being scared to be in a house by yourself during the day. I battle with both night and day.

My phobia stems from numerous brushes with armed house burglaries from the age of eight. I grew up in a country where burglary and armed break-ins are commonplace and barely feature as news. But that first attempted armed break-in when I was eight is the one that has stayed with me the longest. This phobia is so scary for me that I will not go into the details of the armed break-in. I am just thankful that nobody in my family was harmed in any of the armed break-ins we have endured. Now I live in a much safer country but I will still obsessively shut all windows and lock/double lock all doors. I will also check on those windows and doors at least three times in a short succession just to make absolutely sure they are locked. It has led me to years of insomnia. I am a very light sleeper and have a very acute sense of hearing so every noise at night makes me jump. I have called family members to drive in the middle of the night to my house because I heard what I thought was someone on the roof. This phobia is paralyzing and yes it is life altering. I never feel 100% safe in a house at night and never feel 100% in a house during the day if I am alone.

My #2 Phobia = Chiroptophobia

No, I am not afraid of Batman. I am terrified of Bats. That is why I put this image up. There are hundreds of images of bats to be found on google but I seriously want to throw up from fear if I see them. It was difficult enough to get this one. Luckily for me it was at the top of the gallery so I only caught glimpses of the horrid creatures….I actually just had all the hairs on the back of my neck raise at that.

The roots of this fear dates back centuries and they are fueled by the Dracula stories, Halloween and Hades. Which brings us of course to the legend of the Vampires. Undead men who are able to change into bats and feed on the blood of humans – usually beautiful young people.

As for my fear. It’s roots are from when I was six years old and my cousin and I were playing in our farm barn. She was a little older than me and a terrible tease. We were playing hide and seek amongst the hay bales. She was hiding and I was the seeker. I had been searching for her for close to half an hour – which for a little kid is like half a day – and was getting a little nervous as it was nearing dusk which made shadows creep across the floor and walls of the barn. I told her I had enough and was giving up. Still no answer. I was a little worried at this point. So I decided to leave the barn and walk back up to my house. As I left, I heard a sound that I could not quite place. Then just as I was hesitating on the threshold of the doorway, pebbles started flying in my direction. I thought it was my cousin until she came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. The pebbles now came at both of us. We were tripping over each other to get out of there and I fell. The next thing I knew I heard another sound, turned and it slammed into my face. A bat. It clung to my face. I was looking into its face and I thought it was looking into mine. I could not even scream. I was that petrified. I had never seen anything so horrendous in my worst imaginings at that point. (Nor since then, looking back in hindsight.) My cousin ran back and was screaming and trying to pull this bat off my face. It took her about ten minutes before the creature finally let go. Then she had to drag me up to the house as I was completely incapacitated from fear.

Ever since then I cannot even look at a picture of a bat. I hate going into caves and dark places where they may be resting. But now if I do come across a bat, I run like hell and do not look back until I am safe. That was actually horrible to write about. I can still see that bat. Now, I will probably have nightmares about bats tonight.

My #3 Phobia = Selachophobia

I am afraid of sharks in the dark patches of a swimming pool. This is one of the reasons I do not like aquariums. Strangely enough I am not afraid of sharks in the sea.

The roots of this phobia are psychological and are either linked to a fear of darkness or linked to a buried childhood trauma.

The roots of my fear is that a girl I knew drowned in a swimming pool when we were both three. For years I blocked all memory of her until years later when I was about sixteen I was talking to my parents about phobias. They had always known I was scared of swimming in a pool by myself. Although I loved swimming in the ocean I had never really enjoyed swimming in pools and would never swim by myself. I told them that for some reason my mind told me that sharks were in the dark patches in the pool and if I was swimming underwater, I would fear the same thing that there were sharks behind me just waiting to attack. Then they told me about my little friend and it all made sense where that fear came from.

So those are my top three phobias. I am sure if I went through a list of phobias I would find others but these are the three that I have had for most of my life stemming from roots in childhood.

So what petrifies you to a stand-still? What makes your hairs stand on end and your heart thunder in your chest? What is your irrational fear? What is your phobia and do you know the roots? 

Some fears seem funny to others and some seem downright strange but at the end of the day to the person who suffers from this phobia, there is nothing funny about it. As horror, thriller and suspense writers we often play on common phobias that are our own or those of people we know. But phobias are real fears. Who are we to judge a person’s bravery when we may suffer at least one phobia. Does that make a scared person a coward. To quote the great Mark Twain:

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.  Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave.  ~ Mark Twain,Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, 1894

Here is a list of well-known phobias:

Arachnophobia = The fear of spiders.

Achluophobia = Fear of darkness.

Acrophobia- Fear of heights.

Aichmophobia- Fear of needles or pointed objects.

Agoraphobia – Fear of open or crowded spaces and fear of leaving a safe place.

 Aquaphobia – Fear of water or drowning.

Astraphobia or Astrapophobia- Fear of thunder and lightning.(Ceraunophobia, Keraunophobia)

Aviophobia or Aviatophobia- Fear of flying.

Claustrophobia- Fear of confined spaces.

Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns.

Dentophobia- Fear of dentists.

Hemophobia or Hemaphobia or Hematophobia- Fear of blood.

Misophobia or Mysophobia- Fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs.

Ophidiophobia- Fear of snakes.

These are some fears that would make what we as writers do very difficult:

Allodoxaphobia- Fear of opinions.

Atychiphobia- Fear of failure.

Bibliophobia- Fear of books.

Doxophobia- Fear of expressing opinions or of receiving praise.

Epistemophobia- Fear of knowledge.

Graphophobia- Fear of writing or handwriting.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words.

Ideophobia- Fear of ideas.

Logizomechanophobia- Fear of computers.

Logophobia- Fear of words.

Metrophobia- Fear or hatred of poetry.

Mythophobia- Fear of myths or stories or false statements.

Onomatophobia- Fear of hearing a certain word or of names.

Phronemophobia- Fear of thinking.

Verbophobia- Fear of words.

Lastly here are a few odd phobias:

Autodysomophobia- Fear of one that has a vile odor.

Basophobia or Basiphobia- Inability to stand. Fear of walking or falling.

Chromophobia or Chromatophobia- Fear of colors.

Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.

Genuphobia- Fear of knees.

Koinoniphobia- Fear of rooms.

Lachanophobia- Fear of vegetables.

Linonophobia- Fear of string.

Octophobia – Fear of the figure 8.

Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.

Panophobia or Pantophobia- Fear of everything.

For more on phobias, click on the Phobia List

Related posts in my hop

Thrill me | Chill me | Don’t kill the MC

Thrills / Chills / Kills

The Boogeyman…The ghosts around a campfire…Vampires….Hansel & Gretel’s witch…The evil step-mother…Monsters

Our childhoods are filled with tales that thrill us with adrenaline and chill us with fear. We grow up being told fairy tales of witches, evil killer step-mothers, red shoed witches and monsters of every shape and ilk. Our teen years are filled with ghost stories told around a camp-fire, scaring each other in the dark, continuing the tales of terror, visiting horror shows in fair grounds and roller coaster rides.

What is it about our morbid fascination with all things scary? Why are thrillers and horrors the biggest box-office hits in cinemas world-wide? Why are the scariest rides the most popular at fairgrounds?

When we are faced with things that terrify us we get a giant kick of adrenaline that surges through our bodies and electrifies every single nerve fibre in our body. Adrenaline pushes us to action. Whether we decide to run for the hills or stand our ground and fight the terror, we are forced to act. Our emotions are kicked into hyper-drive and we feel more alive than ever. So there is no great mystery why things that scare us draw us in time and time again. We crave that adrenaline hit. We crave that singing feeling that sends our nerve ends buzzing with an irresistible energy.

Throughout life we dare ourselves and each other to face our fears. In every culture there is a facing of fear task that needs to be overcome to get to certain stages of maturity. Facing our fears and overcoming them turn us from children into adults.

Whether it is ghosts, the dark, different phobias – we all understand fear and its features. But human beings are the only creature that seeks out the things it fears. Perhaps it is our search for adventure that is an antidote to the mundane and normal. But unlike animals, reptiles and birds; we run after things that scare us.

It is more than just the adrenaline. It is also a need to feel connected and feel raw emotion. Fear is one of the most basic and instinctual of all emotions. But fear is not necessarily always a bad emotion. Fear can help us reach the strongest parts of ourselves and resort to acts of courage that we would ordinarily not find. Fear can push us to act rather than just react. Fear also makes us feel completely alive and gives us a rich appreciation for our own survival. Fear casts a harsh light on the fragility of the human condition but it is also forces us to count every second as precious. 

What makes a story scary? 

The setting can be a huge part of setting your reader / viewer up for fear. It could be a graveyard on a misty night, a darkened alleyway, an abandoned house, an office building at night, a creaking floor and opening door…all of these would immediately put you in the seat of fear.

Characters can be another set up for fear. Creepy old people, a child that seems to look into your soul, a menacing individual or the guy/girl who seems just too good to be true…

But for me the scariest scenes are those that could happen and that might happen. When we read something and watch something and believe that it could happen. When the normal suddenly degenerates into the bizarre and twisted. These are the ideas and stories that really scare me. Monsters don’t scare me but vengeful spirits/ghosts do. Vampires don’t scare me but sharks and snakes do. 

Watching or reading something scary makes me appreciate safety and security. It makes me feel alive and immeasurably grateful to be alive. There is a lot of things and people in this world that are truly scary but to know the light we sometimes need to confront the darkness. Another reason why I love reading and watching thrillers is that the good guys always triumph, it may be by the skin of their teeth, but they do triumph. The bad guys always end up on the worse end of the tale, either being killed, destroyed or caught. 

A great thriller walks a close line between the bizarre and normal. It brings out the flaws and fears in the characters and forces them to new levels of strength, fortitude, courage, survival and the most basic levels of humanity. 

I am often asked why I not only read and watch thrillers but write them too. I am drawn to the ultimate fight between good and evil and in every good thriller – book or movie – good trumps evil. I write dark fiction because it helps me balance emotions. I also love pushing characters into terrible spots that they have to get out of to survive. I love writing that is filled with conflict and tension. There is no way that one can hide from darkness in this world but we can teach ourselves that light can triumph over that darkness. After all, it takes only one small match that when lit can light up a whole room. Darkness flees from light. That is the natural order of things. The night can be long, dark, cold and threatening but eventually the sun rises with dawn and the warmth of a new day brings hope. 

This is why I write dark fiction. I write it to remind myself that there is darkness in the world and there are dangerous things, people and situations. But there is also light and goodness. There is also courage and human compassion. Writing dark fiction allows me to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and courage over fear. Writing a believable antagonist that fills me with fear and foreboding makes me write a believable protagonist that fills me with hope and courage. Writing dark fiction allows me to acknowledge darkness and fear but more importantly it allows me to celebrate light and courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

The Gift of Truth Telling

Image by TW Collins via Flickr

How important is telling the truth to you?

For many writers, they tell the truth about emotional subjects and difficult tales through their stories. They may change a few names around or they may base a character loosely on themselves. I believe all fiction does carry something of the writer‘s experience and emotional map about it. But there are those writers who are called to write a story that will make people question their world views. Their stories make the reader confront the truth. As we all know sometimes the truths in this world can be ugly and destroying. But sometimes there are those rare individuals who can use trials and torments to rise above their circumstances and use that very pain to bring comfort and nurturing warmth into all whose lives they touch. Then you go a step further and meet those same individuals who use their stories of pain as a looking-glass mirror where, through the naked reflection of their pain, they offer others in the same circumstances a way out, a way paved with hope and resilience. Tonight I have the honour of having such an individual and such a writer in the Dragonfly Scrolls studio with me. I am not going to digress anymore because tonight she is going to share her amazing story with you. So I am going to take a step back and let you be inspired by a woman who, like myself, believes in not only seeking the truth but in telling the truth in all its naked complexity. This is a story of a true survivor. Listen to her and have hope no matter how hopeless your world may seem right now.

Firstly thank you for joining me in the Dragonfly Scrolls studio…

Let us start by you introducing yourself to us…Who is Suzannah Burke?

Of all the questions I am ever asked this is perhaps the most difficult to answer. Who am I?  I am an Australian woman in my fifties.  I wake before sunrise and go back to bed after midnight.  I love to walk in the rain, and read in the sun.  I watched Toy Story 3 and cried; I sat with my 30-year-old daughter and watched the entire first series of Glee in one sitting, snuggled on the sofa with enormous amounts of munchies.  On her next visit, we watched the entire first season of Trueblood together.  I live alone on the northeastern coast of Australia in a small fishing village.  I am a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, an ex-wife, but my favorite title is mother. I am a writer fortunate enough to have had a book published.  I love my animals, my solitude and my life is as perfect as it’s going to get right now.

Tell us about your background in writing.

I didn’t really begin writing as more than a hobby until 5 years ago.  Like many people my friends said, “Hey, this is good stuff.”  I joined an online writing site and to my delight, they agreed with my friends. I wrote my first complete fiction novel for Nanowrimo in 2009.  I completed another fiction novel for Nanowrimo in 2010…and in between, I wrote “Empty Chairs”

I know that you have a book called Empty Chairs out.  Can you tell us a bit about it?

Empty Chairs is my biography from age three to age 11.  It covers the early years when I was subjected to horrendous abuse instigated by my mother and the pedophile ring she was a pivotal member of.  It covers the abuse and moves quickly on to my life living on the streets at age 11. I hope that people will see within the pages that the results of abuse can be life threatening and certainly life altering.  However, it also made me understand that I had a core of strength inside that simply refused to be broken.  I had a dream of something better and nothing would stop me striving towards that dream.

Now it must take great courage to write about painful events in your life but yet you have.

What was your inspiration for writing this story?

When I first hit the streets, I met and ultimately shared my life with a group of street kids.  We were together for 5 years, and some of us remained friends for over 4 decades. One of the gang was only 8 years old.  Her name was “Jenny.”  I was not the youngest at 11, which in itself will shock many people.  Jenny and I grew close and over the years maintained our bond.  Jenny had asked me to write about our lives on the street.  I used to write {for want of a better term} I wrote stories for Jenny when we were together, normally in the columns of newspapers that we used to sleep on.  I made Jenny the hero in all the stories; she was the Princess who always managed to save herself from whatever monsters I conjured up.  Jenny loved those stories.

I had made her a promise, that “One day” I would write it all down. I promised her I would tell everyone what is was like to live on the streets as we did. Jenny committed suicide on September 1st 2009.  I hadn’t kept my promise.  When I began to recover from my anger and sadness at her death, I made the decision to honor the promise that I had made to her. Empty Chairs is the result.

I have heard that for the month of April all the profits received for your book will be donated to ISPCAN the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

That is quite a contribution. Can you tell us a little about ISPCAN?

The International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, founded in 1977, is the only multidisciplinary international organization that brings together a worldwide cross-section of committed professionals to work towards the prevention and treatment of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation globally.

ISPCAN’s mission is to prevent cruelty to children in every nation, in every form: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, street children, child fatalities, child prostitution, children of war, emotional abuse, and child labor.  ISPCAN is committed to increasing public awareness of all forms of violence against children, developing activities to prevent such violence, and promoting the rights of children in all regions of the world. ISPCAN invites you to join forces with its members around the world to protect children in need: their bodies, minds, hearts, and rights.

I think this is a very worthy cause. Can you tell readers where to get a copy of your book in April?

The kindle version on Amazon is here:

The paperback version on Amazon is here:

The Smashwords edition in kindle or eBook is here:

Question: What is your hope for this book and for this cause Susannah?

I hope that people will read this and begin to understand and acknowledge that Child abuse is not only perpetrated in poor neighborhoods, it is not restricted to the uneducated masses…people appear to have a misconception of Abuse, perhaps to safely distance their thoughts from anything so sordid and difficult to comprehend they lump child abuse in a category. That is a misconception that must change. News flash folks, I came from an upper middle class background. My abusers were pillars of the community.  These pedophiles didn’t drive rusted out cars and wear tacky clothes.  They drove Mercedes- Benz and Porsche. They wore Armani and Dior. There are NO social boundaries when it comes to pedophilia.

Abuse is a terrible crime that humans seem to excel at. I am sure there are many people out there who have no support and no place to run to. For readers who may know of or have experienced abuse, what would you say to them now?

When I was a child, there was no place to turn.  This horror was never spoken of.  Today thanks to the hard work of many wonderful people worldwide and the internet, every hospital has counseling and referral facilities.  Doctors are mandated to report suspected abuse to the relevant authorities if the child is under age.  Police departments have their own departments set up specifically to deal with complaints of this nature.  Salvation Army, Red cross, and most churches have their own teams where a person can phone anonymously to access assistance. I have a very long list of help sites on my blog, covering the USA the UK and Australia. The list is growing daily.  I check all the sites before I add them to be certain they are legitimate and approved.  If you are reading this interview and you have been abused or suspect someone you know may be experiencing it now please speak up.  The avenues will respect your privacy, they WILL believe you.  At times especially with younger folks, it is the fear that they will not be believed that prevents them seeking help.  The people and the facilities out there are now immense, they will help you to take all the steps necessary to either stop the abuse or recover from abuse inflicted long ago.

Looking back at your life through the mirror of Empty Chairs, would you say there was a defining moment that led you to write down your story in this book?

Jenny’s death by her own hand was the catalyst.  She was a precious, marvelous human being, yet her soul was murdered long before she took her last breath.  I was so devastated and angry when I got the call. It took me months before I could calm down enough to write the book clearly without emotional overload.

After reading the sample chapter of this book, I see that you chose to write this story in present tense. This creates a really powerful reality where the reader sees everything through your deep POV (point of view).

This must have been very difficult for you as you would have re-experienced much of the heartache and pain again?

Did you have a support system to help you through the writing of this story?

I told no one that I was writing the book, I didn’t want to inflict what I was dealing with on anyone else. I needed to do it in my own time and without questions when I had almost completed it I posted the first chapter on The Night Publishing site. Tim Roux who is Night Publishing contacted me, and on the basis of chapter, one he signed me to a publishing contract for Empty Chairs.  To say I was stunned would be a major understatement.

What would you say was the biggest challenge in writing a non-fiction story based on your life story?

I had flashbacks and panic attacks during the writing of the book. I often had to stop and take myself outside into the clean air to gain a perspective and continue writing. The biggest challenge in so far as the writing itself was to remain true to who I am now and yet recall how I felt then without hyperbole or drama. I needed to allow the things to unfold as I remembered them. I am aware that it is a difficult thing to read.  My honesty can be daunting.  Yet it is not a subject that can be prettied up for public consumption.  I wrote it exactly as I remembered it.

What advice would you give to a writer contemplating on writing a similar memoir style biography?

Be aware that many people simply don’t want to hear about painful topics.  They label this kind of work as “Misery Memoir” You must be prepared for folks to not want to know any more about a very painful topic.  I am one of the very fortunate few who has a Publisher that has supported me.  If you decide to write a biography remember to be true to yourself every step of the way.  I had one publishing house that wanted to sign the book, but only if I prettied it up for general consumption, I refused.

If you decide to self publish be prepared to do the heavy-duty promotional work required to have people read your work.  My publisher is very supportive but I still have a need to put in the hours to help people learn about my work.  Set yourself a target every day, try, and keep to it.  If you find yourself getting caught up in the emotion of the book it will reflect in your writing: that is not necessarily a bad thing, no one wants to read a book devoid of any emotion, but by the same token people need to be able to read the book without the feeling that they are being preached at or ranted to.  Sometimes you need to put it aside and distance yourself a little before you continue.  Most of all believe in yourself.

Since “Empty Chairs” is non-fiction, will you be writing some fiction/have you written any fiction?

I had already completed a Comedy/Romance novel “Dudes Down Under” before commencing “Empty Chairs” and during Empty Chairs, I added more to the fiction book, and I needed to have the Comedy as a release from the remembering.  I also have a fiction Psychological Thriller “Twisted “completed which I’m currently editing.

Would you say there is quite a large difference between writing fiction and non-fiction?

Oh hell, yes!  There is no comparison.  My non-fiction book does not allow me the luxury of inventing characters, places, and happenings.  Truth is often more difficult to write.  With my Fiction work, I have a wonderful time, developing the plot and inventing and rounding out the characterizations.

What other genres do you write in and why?

I write in so many different genres, ‘Dudes Down Under” is a Comedy/Romance I had a ball writing it, and inventing my pivotal chapter linking “character” of Cyril…Cyril is a 28ft long crocodile who wears Armani, drinks copious amounts of JD loves Al Pacino and Brando, dances to “Some enchanted evening” and whose thoughts on every imaginable topic are only known to the reader. The misunderstandings are rife as the story is set on a brand new tropical island resort catering only to the Hollywood ‘A’ listers. What Cyril does to the croc skin luggage of the stars is not to be missed. I adore the escapism of Comedy, and the fun of the romantic scenes. As for my other novel “Twisted” Phew!  What can I say…I have a ball again in a different way, by killing off folks and weaving in a serial murderer and a conspiracy as well, again escapism. I also submit regular short stories online in contests ranging from westerns to paranormal. The only topics I have yet to tackle is Science Fiction and Fantasy…I don’t feel I have enough knowledge for one and am not comfortable with the other.

Are you working on any new projects now?  Can you share anything about them?

I am currently writing the follow-up to Empty Chairs as so many kind people have asked me what happened then?  Where did you go?  What did your life turn out like?

So, yes…I am picking the book up the day after book one ends.  I am also working on another novel entitled “The inheritance” about a young Australian women who is made Guardian of her wealthy US friend’s 4-year-old child.  It’s developing nicely and will I think be labeled as a romance when I am done exploring all the possible journeys that the characters are taking me on.

What would you like you lasting legacy to be as a writer?

This is a difficult question: I guess with my Non-fiction work I would like people who have bought it to say, “Hey, if she can get through it and have a richly rewarding life, then hell, so can I.”  With my fiction work, I love to inform and entertain; if that is how my readers feel then I would be one very delighted woman.

Can you tell us where to find you on the web Susannah?

Okay…  I have my book review/interview/talk writing site on

My book related site for Empty Chairs is on

I have a competition that I run every month that is very popular at

And….my comedy romance and interviews with a crocodile site is

Phew, I do have a few.

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview with me.

I commend your courage in bringing a very real and painful subject to life.

Your story is one that is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit even in the face of great pain.

It has been an honour and pleasure to feature an author with such a worthy message.

I hope that you will come back and visit with me in my studio in the near future and tell us more of your future endeavors.

I trust that Empty Chairs becomes a fast best seller so that you may raise many well needed earnings for ISPCAN.

I look forward to watching your future success and especially to your sequel to “Empty Chairs”. Your’s is a story that had to be written. Thank you for showing the great courage you have by writing it.

I am so appreciative of the time and the kindness you have shown, thank you for the opportunity.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

For those readers interested in finding out more about the prevention of child abuse, I have added a link to the ISPCAN.


Writers & Readers ~ “Dare to be Courageous!”

Image by Nicolò Paternoster via Flickr

Banned Books Week 2010

This week is Banned Books week 2010. This is a week where as readers and writers we get to celebrate the Freedom to read and write what we want – irregardless of censors.

The Definition of Censor ~ Merrium-Webster Dictionary

: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable <censor the news>; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable

All over Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and many more countless social networking sites there are write-ups this week on Banned Books Week 2010.

This year this is the list of top 10 banned books:

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

I have read 4 of these books. “To kill a Mockingbird”, “Catcher in the Rye”, “My Sister’s Keeper”, “The Colour Purple”. I plan on reading the other 6 on this list as well. In fact they are going to the top of my “To Be Read” list.

Another book which has created a lot of online controversy and conversation this week is: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I have not read this book but again this is going to go to my “To Be Read” List.

The one thing that binds these books together is the courage to not just seek truth but the bolder courage to write the truth. It takes courage to dare to question the “acceptable” topics for discussion. It takes courage to brave the difficult questions and even more courage to encourage questioning the difficult subjects. It takes courage to go against the crowd and be an individual. All of these writers and all of these books accomplish just this.

So instead of the censors’ original intentions of making these writers pariahs in our society and making their books and words taboo, they have succeeded in the complete opposite. They have made these writers heroes and heroines. They have made their words and their books vital to individuality and to freedom. This label of being a “Banned Book” is in fact, and in spite of the censors, a Badge of Honour.

In fact now one of my goals as a writer is to make it onto a future Banned Books List. The reason I write is to seek out the truth, deal with issues and make people question the way they think, act, speak. To utilise an old adage: The pen is INDEED mightier than the sword. Words have the rare ability to enter our consciousness and to mould our beliefs and our principles. Words used incorrectly have a far greater power to wound than the sword. Words used correctly and courageously have the power to heal and halt the actions of the sword.

Most writers write because they cannot not write. There is a burning need and passion within that urges them to write. Often both prose and poetry are built on the foundations of our own experiences or come about as a result of a need to grapple issues and conflicts.

So many world events in histories have been upended by and through writers. Writers are indeed the unseen soldiers in the universal fight for freedom. It is an age-old battle that is recorded in every culture and every country. Every time some official has tried to censor these writers, these “Truth Seekers”, it has only highlighted the courage and the boldness of the censored words. In the words of another famous author who stirred up controversy:

“Knowledge is power” ~ Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

The first use of Censorship was in 1591. The writing in question was Mother Hubbard’s Tale. This was a tale that was told to portray the injustices, which included the persecution of poets and scholars, by Queen Elizabeth’s I Lord Treasurer, William Cecil, Lord Burghley. That was the first recorded use of censorship. Interestingly this tale was censored because it depicted the persecution of “poets and scholars” amongst other injustices.

So as you can see, censorship is not a new concept. it has been around for centuries. However, we have the power to outweigh and overshadow censorship. This power is contained within the words we write and the stories we tell. Story telling is even older than censorship and will always be stronger than censorship.

I applaud the writers whose courage in writing and telling truths, to dare to be different and dare to battle supposed taboo subjects, have put them on the Banned Books List. May we all dare to be so courageous and to write even though our writing may cause controversy. May we dare to write The Truth. May we dare to give those who read our words the Power of Knowledge and the Freedom to Choose.

What books on Banned Books Lists have you read? What books will you read? The written words are more powerful when they are read and repeated. Let us persist in reading and choosing what we want to read without being censored.

Dare to be courageous.

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.