Often in life we wonder if we’ll ever have the chance to meet an angel. I was lucky. I met two of them – former students of mine. I amalgamated their personalities into one, added a touch of my mother, a dash of make-believe, and they became the inspiration behind fourteen-year-old Celeste Daniels, a fictional character in my new book – The Teddy Bear Eye Club.
For over twenty-five years, I worked with teenagers as a youth minister in a church and a chaplain in a high school. Nothing gave me greater joy, then when I had an office full of teenagers hanging out, draped over the furniture, covering every inch of the carpet and pigging out on junk food. I loved their laughter, joie de vivre and excitement. I also listened to their anguish, especially over how they looked and felt, and during that time, I realized that no one was ever satisfied with their life, hair, skin, weight, accomplishments and so on.
They all appeared to have one common thread – low self-esteem.
So I set out to write a young adult book enriched with teenagers coping with their own private issues – all with poor self-esteem – all struggling. There is fourteen-year-old Mayah – a tall, lanky redhead coping with adoption issues and believing her parents lied to her. Then there is Kitty, whose mother is trying to shape her into someone she isn’t. Freddy is the good student and athlete perceived as stuck-up and Danni hates her weight, feeling she is just too darn fat.
As I began writing this story, I reflected a lot on the many hours, weeks and months that I worked with teenagers. I realized there were two students who stood out as having fantastic self-esteem – my two angels. Both had cancer. One lived, one passed away. Both were similar in their joy of life, wisdom, kindness and understanding. They touched my life and the life of many others, and there isn’t a day that goes by, that I don’t think of them. They remind me of my mother who also faced the challenge of cancer with a smile on her face and courage in her heart. They became Celeste Daniels.
So yes, Celeste has cancer in my new book, but this story is not a sad one.
It is a tale filled with joy, a heavy dose of humor, and compassion, as four young people learn to love themselves and accept themselves – just the way they are.
And that was how The Teddy Bear Club formed – with love and humor – inspired by courageous young people who reached for the stars.
She loved to write, about anything and everything.
Suzanne Hurley was born in Peterborough, Ontario, where she spent most of her childhood immersed in The Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie novels. Secretly she wrote stories about murders and dead bodies and detectives who painstakingly uncovered the truth.
She attended Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario where she continued devouring every book she could get her hands on in the mystery genre, branching out into women’s fiction. Secretly, she wrote pages and pages about women facing challenges and overcoming them.
As a youth minster in a parish and a chaplain in a high school, a ministry that she loved with all her heart, she began to write about teens’ struggles, challenges and ways to overcome problems.
Eventually, combining her love of mysteries, women’s fiction and teenagers, her secret burst forth in a series of novels that embraced her passions. To date, Suzanne has written eleven novels. She is currently writing the sixth book in her mystery series, has written three women’s fiction novels and two young adult books.
No more secrets for her. She loves every minute of it.
Her latest young adult novel is The Teddy Bear Eye Club.
For More Information