AN AUTHOR IS BORN
I connected with Suzanne when she responded to an article I wrote about two of my cousins, who were placed in an orphanage after WWI. The story, Young Casualties of War, was very sad. In contrast, Suzanne wrote an article for a magazine about her own experience in care, which was far more positive. Her story led to a publishing contract with Penguin, and a heartwarming series of books.
IN HER OWN WORDS
My name is Suzanne Lambert and I live in the North East of England with my husband. I live close to my daughter and grandchildren, who are my greatest joy.
I was born in a home for unmarried mothers in 1955, then handed over to the nuns of Nazareth House Orphanage, who at the time did not take in young babies. However Nancy, the nanny in the orphanage, said she was happy to look after me and so I became the first baby to live at Nazareth House.
Nancy told me many times during our life together that from the moment I was placed in her arms she knew God had sent her a daughter. She spent the next 16 years in fear that one day I would be taken from her.
The stories my mother told me growing up never failed to make me laugh one moment and cry the next. She dedicated her entire life to loving and caring for the children of the North East.
As a child I used to make up stories and tell them to the other children as we sat around the huge conker tree in the garden. One day I would write these stories and make my own books I told the children.
My first day at school was one of the most exciting days of my life. There would be lots of books and I would learn to read and write. I was five years old and sitting at the front of the class smiling at the teacher. This memory is as clear now as it was then. She looked at me then turned to the other teacher in the room and whispered.
‘She’s another one that won’t amount to anything, she’s one of those from the home.’
I was swiftly moved to the back of the class. I didn’t actually understand what was said but I remember feeling as though my whole world had fallen apart. The sad part of the story is that somewhere deep down I believed it for the rest of my life. I was ‘her from the home’ and I would never write a book.
I had a wonderful life with my mother Nancy, who created magic wherever she went. I was loved beyond measure and I miss her every single day. She promised each and every child in her care she would never forget them. Aged 85, mum was in a nursing home suffering from dementia and no longer knew who I was. One day when I went to visit her, I was told earlier that day she had smiled at her carer and asked; ‘Where are the children? ’ She kept her promise.
One of my mother’s favourite stories was about the year there were no presents for the children and she sat up all night making rag dolls. I cried so much the first time I heard it and it became a tradition to tell this story every year on Christmas Eve.
I was 58 years old when my daughter saw a life story competition in Take a Break magazine. ‘Go on mum‘, she said, ‘ tell the story of the ragdolls.’ With no belief in my storytelling I began to type out the required 1000 words and sent it off. Oh how wonderful it felt to write and I found myself crying when I read it back. Putting it to the back of my mind I got on with life. People like me who had nothing more than a few GCE’s didn’t become writers.
I still remember the day I discovered I had won the competition. The publishing house Penguin wanted me to continue writing the book myself. ‘Just do it, they said, it’s wonderful.’
I have now written and published three books in the Ragdoll series and have a fourth one almost finished.
My great passion is to inspire and encourage others who have a story to tell. I now give talks in the North East about my story, hoping that others will feel inspired enough to realise their writing dream. I also run creative writing workshops, which are such a joy and have been hugely successful. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe it is real.
Writing the stories of my mother and her many children has brought me great peace. Finally, those whispered words at school no longer cause me pain.
One of the last things my mother ever said to me was, ‘I wonder if anyone will tell their stories.’ Thanks to Penguin Random House, indeed they did.
Web host’s note – Click on the titles below for links to Suzanne’s books.
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