Suzy Zail worked as a lawyer until she had children and found herself reading her childrens' bedtime stories out loud, long after they'd gone to sleep. "I didn't want to spend my days in court arguing. I wanted to tell stories." She went back to university - this time to hone her writing - publishing seven children's books by the time she graduated. "I've written about miserable clowns and skateboarding dogs, a kidnapped lizard and a forgotten birthday, but the story that meant the most to me was my father's story."
Suzy's father was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 1998. Until then, he'd kept the details of his childhood in Hitler's concentration camps during World War 2, secret. "He told us everything, and when he was finished, I knew I had to tell his story, both as a way of remembering him, but also the millions of other teenagers and children who died in the Holocaust." Suzy spent the next five years writing his story, fulfilling her promise to get his story onto bookshelves when THE TATTOOED FLOWER was published in 2006.
She continued to tell other people's stories, always looking for the unusual or exceptional. "People who would inspire me to be a better person." She wrote about firefighters, a woman who'd fostered 100 children and a deaf-blind motorbike-riding daredevil, but found herself drawn back to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
"I guess I wasn't ready to let my father go. Writing about fourteen-year-old Hanna, who finds herself playing piano for the Commander of Auschwitz, in THE WRONG BOY, allowed me to revisit Auschwitz, remember my father and pass on his warning 'never to forget'." Though the novel is set during one of the darkest times in history, the story is laced with hope. "I wanted kids to see, through Karl, the Commander's son, that we can help, in big and small ways and that our capacity for love and friendship is a hugely powerful thing."