The novel is set in a children's home in present day Cambodia. As soon as they begin turning the pages, readers will have no doubt that Sue knows whereof she speaks in her book. It's abundantly clear that she has met those children, seen those sights, heard those sounds, smelled those smells and tasted those tastes - and not as a tourist whipping in and out again, but as someone who has given of their time and energy to support these people in their struggle with their past history and their present poverty.
Many authors believe they should 'give back' in some way to those who inspire their writing. For some people, writing the book and conveying those lives to the rest of the world would be enough. But Sue is not some people. Sue is special.
Over the coming month, Sue will be embarking on a tour of SE Asia, visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Singapore. She will be giving talks, sharing her expertise and experience and yes, selling books. Lots of them hopefully. Will this make her rich? Unlikely, given that most of the income from sales will be going to the numerous charities she is involved with there.
The main event will be a week-long series of workshops with teenagers at the Siem Reap shelter, Anjali House, aimed at enabling these children to access their experiences and emotions through language and equipping them with the literacy skills that should hopefully help them to find work. She has roped in other authors (yes, of course I'm one of them. Need you ask?) to give feedback on the children's writing via a wiki forum. There are already 15 students involved in the programme. Sue says she hopes that this unique scheme will 'enhance their self-esteem and ability to move out of extreme poverty into productive adult lives'.
Photo credit: Anjali House
This is 'giving back' on a grand scale. Sue has arranged the whole tour herself - you can get an idea of the logistics involved in this post. And you can see a video of Sue explaining her motivation in her own words here.
She will keep us all updated on her progress. If I'm this excited, I can only imagine how Sue must be feeling as she embarks on this amazing journey. I send my love and deepest respect and look forward to following developments through cyberspace as she blogs her progress.