Ships in the Field. An Interview with Susanne Gervay

Jan.s:  Susanne, you're a powerhouse of a woman who writes about issues that matter! Bullying, burn victims,  to name a few.  Can you share with us what  your currently writing ?

Susanne: Ships in the Field is my first picture book. It has been in my mind and heart for many years. 

Writing it was an emotional journey that encapsulates my growing up from a refugee family.  I wanted to give a voice to the children and families who have been through war and migration to find laughter, hope and home. 

When award winning illustrator Anna Pignataro illustrated of Ships in the Field received the manuscript she said that ‘it’s my story.’ Her family came from Italy.  It’s a gift that we were able to bring our own experiences to ‘Ships in the Field’.

It is to be published by Ford St on 1st February 2012 

Jan.s:  Susanne:  You have a working relationship with your daughter...I'd love to hear more!!!

Even though I love my daughter Tory, writing the YA novel ‘That’s Why I Wrote This Song’ with her was a difficult process of collaboration. She was 17 and when she asked me teasingly to write a book inspired by her. 

I looked around her room with its Eminem and Good Charlotte posters. Music was her lifeline during the emotional times of family breakdown and my illness.  Eminem and the rock bands expressed her anger and eventually the courage she needed to take on life.

She wrote the songs ‘Psycho Dad’ and ‘I Wanna be Found’ and gave me those songs that would drive our book during turbulent times writing the truth of father-daughter relationships, friendships, search for meaning, love, our own relationship. It was hard writing the book, testing our relationship. 

We had to be careful to respect each other's boundaries, while creating an honest creative work. There were many near disasters, but ultimately our mother-daughter relationship was the glue that kept us going.

‘That’s Why I Wrote This Song’ is about four girls connected through music. The music reflects their relationship with their fathers, each other as they move towards finding love, friendship, their future. They create their band Not Perfect. Not Perfect like them, like the world, like all relationships, as they move towards embracing their Not Perfect world.

Tory’s lyrics and music drive the narrative of the book and are integral to the characters. It was a great journey. You can hear/see her songs on youtube:-

Jan.s:  Susanne, I look forward to hearing more of what you're up to...thanks so much for giving your time!

Psycho Dad -lyrics, music and vocals by Tory Gervay  

I Wanna Be Found – lyrics, music and vocals by Tory Gervay -


The Hughenden

Photos: copyright and courtesy of Susanne Gervay


Susanne Gervay said…
just got my advance copy of Ships in the Field - it's moving with the illustrations by Anna Pignataro

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