Sunday, September 13th, 2015 – Story by Jacqui Halpin
I was really looking forward to Suzy Zail’s session even before we bonded over breakfast on Sunday morning.
I was interested to see how she took a traumatic and tragic subject like the Holocaust and used it as a setting for her junior fiction/YA books.
To find out that she drew on her own father’s experiences and memories of his time spent in German concentration camps made the discussion even more touching, memorable, and relevant.
Suzy’s writing journey began when her father found out he had little time left in this world and shared his own heartrending story with his children. To think to gather his family together so they could all know his history makes it obvious where Suzy’s desire to write, to tell story, comes from. In her first book titled The Tattooed Flower she tells her father’s story and how they spent precious time together writing his memoir.
Prompted by thoughtful questions from children’s literature advocate Mia Macrossan, Suzy took us on a journey that was touching, insightful, and triumphant.
Generous with her time and spirit she shared with us her deeply personal connection to her first fictional book The Wrong Boy and how even though the protagonist is a girl, it kept her father’s story and memory alive for her.
Research is an integral part of writing any historical fiction. Suzy told us of the heart wrenching stories she heard from the holocaust survivors she interviewed during her research for her books. How she found her story through theirs, and how their memories live on in her books.
The importance of such books for young people in this modern age, where many have not even heard of the Holocaust, is paramount. Suzy’s aim is to make this tragic history real to the reader by showing it through the eyes of one person, one character, and how it affects them.
Recently back from a research trip to Uganda she shared with us her hopes and dreams for her next project which will give voice to down-trodden, abused young women of Africa.
As soon as the session ended I raced out to buy her books. Lucky I didn’t dawdle as there was only one copy of The Wrong Boy left when I got to the The Book Garden shop set up in the dining room, and I managed to snag the second last copy of Alexander Altmann A10567.
The salesman told me they’d brought 30 copies of each book and sold them all. They could have sold a lot more, such is the appeal of Suzy’s books.
Story by Jacqui Halpin, author