Friday, 24 June 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

It's been a while since I've posted a new blog. Humble apologies tendered if considered necessary - possibly thanksgiving would be more in order from my followers - one less thing to read instead of writing?

My excuse is that I've been getting back to the book I was halfway through when I started publicising Belfast Girls. I'm not much further, but at least a re-start has been made - like a sleigh run, climbing the hill and getting back in position is the worst bit, then you gather momentum as you go. (Sometimes far too much - let your imagination run free!)

I've also been following up suggestions that I should read from Belfast Girls at the fringe events of two major local festivals, the John Hewitt Summer School in late July, and the Belfast Festival at Queen's in October. Still some work to do there, but sorted for the JHSS and nearly so for the Queen's festival. Just hope it actually sells some books!

(You can buy Belfast Girls as a paperback or on Kindle - here are the Kindle links:
If you'd like to, that is!)
If you've read my previous posts, you know that this blog is about books I've read and liked, alternating between old favourites and new discoveries.
You may also have realised that I read for pleasure, not instruction or moral development. Most of the books I read are funny, exciting, entertaining and full of good, mostly likeable characters. Preferably all of the above.

However, occasionally I leap like a Jack-in-the-box out from cover, and read something not in my usual style.
This happened when I came across Stacey Danson's Empty Chairs.

Stacey, otherwise Suzannah Burke, is a writer I've known since Authonomy days. I admired her writing and was delighted when she interviewed me on her blog SooozSaysStuff and for her Snapshots of Success. More recently, when I won the Night Publishing Book of the Year Contest, she did a further interview with me for her AuthorsOnShow page. So when I heard that she herself had had a book published, back at the beginning of this year, I had to at least look at it, though fearing that it wouldn't be my sort of thing at all.
Well, I was right. It wasn't. But from page one I was gripped, and I found myself reading the whole book with scarcely a pause. Jack jumps out of the box.
So what's it about?
This is Soooz's own story. From a childhood of unbelievable abuse on a regular basis, and from her mother of all people, through her escape to the streets and her meeting with a group of others in a similar predicament who were between them able to give her some of the love and support she'd been so badly missing, Soooz holds the reader enthralled. Episode after episode shocks and horrifies, but forces you to keep on turning the pages. Anti-gravity stuff - impossible to put down.
Soooz is an excellent writer, and of course this is always important. Her style is smooth and in itself enjoyable. The story she tells is one which will probably bring the tears bursting out. It's hard to imagine a person who could read some of these things - the prostitutating of the three-year old girl by her own mother, for instance - without distress. In these days when true life stories have reached a never-before-seen level of popularity, this book will, I know, make an immediate appeal to a large number of readers. But if, like me, you normally avoid such stories, I would seriously advise you to make an exception here. The wisdom, courage, maturity and love which this writer achieved in her own character through her dreadful life experiences makes the book an encouragement, in the end, and I think you'll be glad to have got to know Soooz. She's a woman, and a writer, anyone should be proud to know.
You can buy Empty Chairs as a paperback on Amazon, or on Kindle here: and here:
and you can follow Soooz on her own blog here:

Another bit of news - if you read The Eye Of Erasmus, which I recently featured on this blog, you will be delighted to know that Teresa Geering has recently released Shasta Summer, a 'prequel' (awful word, but convenient). Shasta Summer was written, and is set, before The Eye of Erasmus, and I hear there's a third book in the series about to come sometime.

I hope to write something more regularly from now on.  See you soon, in a manner of speaking.


  1. I am halfway through Empty Chairs and will finish tonight. It is gripping stuff.

  2. Isn't it, Glynis? Well worth reading.

  3. I read Empty Chairs and found it shocking - what a book!

  4. Just the mention of Empty Chairs Gerry and I'm instantly ready to take up arms on behalf of Stacey/Our Soooz. A wonderful woman who has my deepest respect.

    Many thanks for the mention of Shasta Summer. Actually Shasta Summer is two books in one -
    Bk 1 Summer in the present
    Bk 2 Summer's regression to her past life.
    So two for the price of one.
    Tee x

  5. Gosh, Empty Chairs is one of those books I want to read without actually reading it, if you know what I mean. Like you, Gerry, I'm not sure if it's 'my thing', but I'll work my way up to it.

  6. KJ, shocking is right, but also very important.Tee, 'a wonderful woman' - yes, indeed. Shalini, don't let me twist your arm if it's too hard a read - I completely understand and I'm sure Soooz would too.
    Thanks for your comments, guys.

  7. Gerry, you are such a sweetheart, thank you for the warmth and support you have offered not only for me as a person but for the book as well. It IS a difficult read, which makes me appreciate even more that folks are reading it and helping get the message out.

    Soooz (aka Stacey Danson} oh..and I answer to 'hey you!' as well.

  8. Soooz, thanks for your comment. You and your book both deserve all the support possible. It was a pleasure to return, in however small a way, the amazing support you have given to me.

  9. At last! sites are proving increasingly inaccessible.

    Must admit I was expecting Monty Python with your choice of headline, but this was far better.

    Comfort reading is something we all do, of course, and comfort writing also. But both as readers and writers we need sometimes to go beyond our comfort zones.

    In researching Sugar & Spice we had to read and talk to a lot of people who had these sorts of experiences, and have the greatest admiration for those who have picked themselves up afterwards and got on with life.

    Empty Chairs is on the list for my next Amazon spree.

  10. Thanks, Mark. Totally agree. Thanks for your continued support.