Hope blooms in unexpected places
Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.
As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?
With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.
Thank you for being here today, Suzy. Your book sounds like a very touching and emotional read. I absolutely love the cover. PBG always has the best covers! Let’s get started with our interview.
When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?
When I was eight or so, the local bookmobile rolled onto our street and set up shop on hot summer days. A clanky air conditioning unit kept the vehicle crisp-cool. I remember pulling a book off the shelf and sitting on the floor, reading for hours. Most days I found a raised medallion on the book jacket. It was the John Newbery Medal, a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). I’d run my fingers across that medal and dream I was being awarded one for a book I’d written.
Out of all the characters you’ve written about, is there one that is your favorite?
One of the characters in Flowers from Afghanistan turned out to be a particular favorite of mine. He was outspoken and uncontrollable. I never knew what he’d do or say next. He will show up in another book!
Have you ever won any awards for your writing? Pip, Tuppence and George won a spot for publication in Splickety Magazine’s Flash Fiction contest. Flowers from Afghanistan was a semi-finalist in the Genesis Awards at ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers.
Do you have a special place where you like to write?
A local coffee shop called Angel’s Island is my current hang-out. The atmosphere is laid-back and the aroma wonderful!
Have you ever received a rejection?
Let’s put it this way, I once started a pile back when paper rejection slips were mailed. My most treasured rejection came from Guideposts Magazine. The editor took time to send a very encouraging note, which we know is rare. Unfortunately my dog ate the rejection slip. (Really) I took that as a sign that I shouldn’t track rejections, but encouragements.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to an unpublished writer?
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”Winston Churchill
Do you take time to plot and outline your books? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I am a plotter.
Do you ever talk about your next project or do you like to keep it a secret?
I will drop a few hints, but for the most part I prefer to keep it a delicious secret.
How long does it take you to write a book? Someone recently said, “As long as it takes.” I love to research, so that time will vary from project to project.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Spend time outside in God’s creation. Give away books through Nonni’s Place, a Little Free Library in our local playground.
Where do you get your ideas for your books? Inspiration comes from brave and honorable acts that people carry out during my lifetime.
Is there a message in your book you hope readers will relate to?
A quote from one of the characters, a local barber in Afghanistan named Gul Hadi: “Awlaad-hoy-e watan, omeed-e watan.”A nation’s children, a nation’s hope. Edward Zellem was kind enough to translate my character’s parable into Dari from English. This quote was picked up and re-tweeted by Afghan citizens. I think I am happier with this line than any other in the book. I employed traditional Afghan proverbs in my novel with permission from Mr. Zellem, but this proverb was one original to my character. The first time it was tweeted out by Afghans was the first time it was read by the Afghan people! The other reason this quote means so much to me is this: it embodies a theme in the book: that nations are not all that different when it comes down to the common people. We all want to raise our children in safety and provide the best life we can for them.