The Lowdown from Downunder

Author Interview with Susan Horsnell

Susan Horsnell grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney in the 50's and 60's, the eldest of five children.
My parents are originally from the Newcastle-Under-Lyme area of England and came to Australia in 1952 as £10 poms. They came under a migration scheme to help Australia with workers.

Back up slightly, Sue. What is a £10 pom?
They were people who came to Australia under a scheme to populate Australia after WW2. The near invasion of the Japanese during the war, and Australia’s small population, caused politicians to rethink things and the catchcry was ‘populate or perish’. The cost of passage to Australia for the English at the time my mum and dad came, 1952, was £10. These people became known as £10 poms.

You weren’t always a writer. What was your pre-published career?
I was a Nurse, a career that spanned more than 35 years. During my career I specialised in caring for people with Alzheimer’s type Dementia, an area that fascinates me despite how heartbreaking it can be. My dear father-in-law is unfortunately afflicted with this disease and now resides in a Nursing Home. In the not too distant future I am hoping to pen a novel incorporating some of the stories I have heard from these amazing people. Part of my career was with the blind and I also cared for severely disabled children for a while too.

When I retired 4 years ago I decided it was time to get the stories out of my head and onto paper. From there I just hoped my stories were interesting and well written enough to attract readers.

Working with the blind inspired a series of books. Tell us about that.

Working with the blind, especially the newly blinded was both a challenge and an inspiration. It tears at your heart to watch a family, particularly a father, come to grips with their previously ‘normal’ child being blind. The emotions, the denial and sheer anger had to be dealt with on a daily basis, all this and the child/young adult, had to also learn how to live in a world without sight. The dangers and obstacles are mind boggling.

When I thought back on this time, it started me thinking about what it would be like for a young child growing up on a ranch in 19th century America. If we think modern living is dangerous for them, a ranch held a myriad of problems. Throw into the mix, a father who would not accept his only heir could not inherit and run the ranch alone, and a society which automatically assumed if you were blind then you must also be insane and useless. The makings of a good story, I thought. I tried to show, that although one door closes for these people, lots more open.

You decided to go the independent route for publishing. What are pros and cons of being an Indie?

I went down the Indie route for a couple of reasons. After lots of research I found that quite a few of the publishers couldn’t do anything for me that I couldn’t do myself and I could keep all the profit. I am pretty technology savvy and, although in the beginning I floundered a little, I am now getting better and better. I like not having deadlines, I don’t want to be forced to come up with a story for the sake of it. I like to be able to write when I am inspired and when the characters ‘talk’ to me. I couldn’t do my best if I had a deadline hovering over me.

It is difficult being a new author now that anyone can publish a book. I can understand readers’ reticence to read Indie authors but hopefully they will give people like me a chance. I find as an avid reader, you can be pleasantly surprised most of the time. I can’t imagine sticking to just one or two authors and just because an author has a publisher doesn’t make them good. I have certainly read some terrible books which have been published by some of the largest companies.

Since we’re coming on Christmas, and the new year isn’t far ahead, would you share your Christmas Wish and New Year’s Resolution with us?

My Christmas wish is the same every year: I pray people remain safe and animals are cared for during this time. It breaks my heart how people dump their pets to accommodate their own selfish wants.

My New Year’s resolution this time is, now my asthma is better controlled, to exercise more and become fitter.

Susan’s Books:

The Glenmore's: Revenge
The Glenmore's: Deputy
The Glenmore's: Laura
The Glenmore's: Caught
The Stuck-Up Governess
Mail Order Marshall
Blind Acceptance
Mountain Maidens
Colonials and Cowboys with Margaret Tanner

Susan has also shared a slice of Christmas Downunder as part of  the Holiday Shorts series on alison bruce, have laptop-will travel


  1. Hi Sue,
    Great interview. Always nice to read about your exploits.


  2. Wonderful interview! And I couldn't agree more with Susan's comments about being an indie author. :)


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