Photo by Jana Miko of Miko Photography
Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:
Susanne Alexander-Heaton continued the interview.
She talked about her writing experience, “I never in a million years would have thought the word author and my name would appear on the same line. My book was inspired and dedicated to my friend’s 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, who passed away from a very rare brain tumor. Sarah came to me in a dream the night after she passed away. She was back to her giggly, mischievous old self and twirling around in a meadow filled with wildflowers and she said to me, ‘Susanne, I have faery wings instead of angel wings, because faery wings are so much easier to run and play around in.’ This dream forever changed my destiny.”
She continued, “I started to research everything that I could about faeries and I found out two things: 1. They are considered nature’s angels and 2. They are a wee bit mischievous! A few years later, while on a sea-kayaking trip totally immersed in nature, the whole idea for the book came streaming in. I literally could not write the ideas down quick enough. I had the initial draft of the book ½ written during the 10-day trip. I returned back to Calgary totally dumbfounded by the entire experience."
Susanne discussed her exhaustion, “At that time, I was also working in my corporate job. Management changed and I ended up doing two jobs, which resulted in my burnout in June 2008. I ended up needing to take a leave of absence for my health. During that time, my father who had been suffering from chronic leukemia was continually getting worse and the doctors could not determine why. The bottom line was that they had missed a six-inch cancerous tumor on his liver and he was given only three months to live. During this time we had some heart to heart conversations. At one point he looked at me and said, ‘Susanne, get yourself out of that corporate job, and go and focus on your book.’ If you had known my father, you would realize just how shocking it was to hear him say these words. He had always been so proud of my accomplishments and believed in giving everything you could to your company. Dad passed January 20, 2009. I announced my resignation to work effective March 15, 2009 and I have never looked back. I continued working on the book and hired an amazing illustrator by the name of Chantal Gabriell from Seashine Design who helped to make each and every faery come to life. I considered going the traditional publisher route, but I discovered that they could change absolutely everything about the book. Because the book was so close to my heart, I didn’t want that to happen, so I decided to self-publish. I received many positive reviews on the manuscript. Then just one month prior to going to the presses, I had a Best-Selling Canadian Author agree to review my book. I was so excited, until I received her response, which was, ‘I cannot review this book. It is not my cup of tea. It is too Hallmarky. You are not saying anything new. If you want some really good poetry, read Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie.’ I was totally devastated. The inner critic in my mind went wild with this information asking me, ‘Who do you think you are, really?’ I finally decided to muster up the courage to go to the library and read Alligator Pie. I had read it to my brothers when I was younger, but I couldn’t remember everything that was in it. When I found the book and read the first poem, I burst into laughter. I realized that this Best-Selling Canadian author had no idea of what I was trying to say. It ended up that she gave me the greatest gift that anyone could have given me. Not everyone is going to like my work, just like not everyone likes the same music, movies...or books. You have to learn not to take it personally and write for those that truly understand the message you are trying to convey. If I had listened to her, I would not have published this book which is now an award winner many times over and has helped to raise over $20,000 for worthy causes. Awards won include:
-Winner of the 2011 USA Best Book Books Awards for Inspirational Poetry
- Award-Winning Finalist in the 2011 Global e-Book Awards
- Award-Winning Finalist in the Best Interior Design, Children's Educational and Children's Mind/Body/Spirit categories of the 2011 International Book Awards
- Nominee for the Alberta 2010 Best Book of the Year Award for Children by the Book Publishers of Alberta
- Bronze Medal for cover design in the 2010 Summit Awards, Artwork by Chantal T. Gabriell, Seashine Design”
She shared her journey through hardship, “My rock bottom was dealing with my father’s death. We had kept him at our family home until his passing, so watching his slow decline was painful because he had always been such a proud man. When he passed, I wanted the earth to stop spinning, just for one minute, to acknowledge my pain and loss. But it didn’t. Everything just kept on moving right along. I had thought I had really understood when other friends of mine had lost their parents, but I realized then, that you couldn’t know the full depths of grief until a similar situation has happened to you. Certain friends I had expected to be there for me, just plain and simple, were not. Others that I never would have expected to were there. I ended up finding a grief support group and that was so incredibly healing. It was really good to know that I was not alone in my thoughts, feelings and frustrations. It is like you become part of a secret society that totally understands one another. My dad sends me plenty of signs from nature and I know that he is one of my angels looking out for me, but there are times that I would just love to be able to have a chat with him on this earth plane. He had always been a man of great wisdom and support and there are times in this business venture that I would love to be able to bounce things off of him.”
Susanne found out that with hardship comes education,
“The lessons I learned:
1. Don’t wait till later to do something that you really want to do, because later may never come.
2. Take time to be with your loved one and be willing to talk about their death with them. They try to be so strong for everyone else, but deep inside, they need some comfort from you.
3. Don’t assume that people understand your grief, especially if they have not been through a similar experience. Seek out a grief support group if it feels like the right thing for you. All people grieve differently.
4. That many signs are given to us, if we are willing to watch or listen for them from our loved ones that have passed.”
She closed with this inspirational quote, “I love this quote by Walt Disney, ‘All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.’ Please pursue your dreams now, and don't wait till later.”
Susanne’s contact information: