JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Suzanna E. Nelson, author of The Helpers: An International Tale of Espionage and Corruption
American journalist, Jenny Osborne, has just received her first big assignment abroad to report on the war situation between the government and rebels in Congo, but soon after their arrival, she and her photojournalist, John Spencer discover that things are not as they seem.
When Kai, a local schoolgirl, decides to end the psychological and sexual abuse that she and her mother have endured at the hands of Gaston, she seeks out Jenny for help. Kai gives Jenny damaging information that could bring down “The Helpers” – a very powerful underground organization whose members include international businessmen and high priests. Their main aim is to maintain a stronghold on the natural resources of Congo and they will stop at nothing to prevent Jenny from exposing them.
Jenny finds herself on the run, caught in a web of intrigue, espionage, assassinations and corruption spanning from Congo to Europe, and as far-reaching as the United States. Her only hope is Lance Lemmand, a veteran French Intelligence Officer in Congo, and his handsome sidekick Pierre-Jean Philippe. But will they find her before it is too late? Or will “The Helpers” silence them once and for all.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write The Helpers: An International Tale of Espionage and Corruption?
Suzanna E. Nelson: My inspiration stems from the love I have for the African continent. I was born in Africa and moved to New York as a teenager, where I attended high school, and university and later worked. I now work for the UN in Geneva, Switzerland. For most my UN assignments, I work with developing countries in Africa, which I love. When I was young, I experienced war first hand, and I think that inspired the type of books I write.
So far, I have written two novels about Africa, which were inspired by realistic historical facts. The Helpers was inspired by colonialism in Democratic Republic of Congo and how it led to corruption and terror – which still goes on. Nightmare Along the River Nile was inspired by actual events that happened to young people in the 1990s at the height of the LRA rebel abductions in northern Uganda.
The story was conceived from many interviews that were conducted with survivors and former child soldiers who managed to escape the LRA. The LRA, led by Kony, is still terrorizing people in central African countries.
JP: What sets The Helpers apart from other books in the same genre?
SEN: I am not aware of many thrillers like The Helpers that are set in Africa, but that does not mean they don’t exist. My writing is mostly inspired by actual events that happened in Africa. For this reason, I do a lot of research before I write.
Most of the readers of my books tell me that they learn something new about the countries I write about. I try to look for relevant human rights topics to support the story. For example, Nightmare Along the River Nile is about modern slavery in a war zone. At the moment, human trafficking is a very important human rights topic as there are almost 27 million people living in slavery today. I hope my story can be part of the solution.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to The Helpers: An International Tale of Espionage and Corruption getting out to the public?
SEN: There is no singular key to success. It takes a lot of work and dedication to get the books read by the public. Writing is the easy part because the process is enjoyable for an author. Marketing is not fun, but it has to be done. The most important thing is to write a well-developed story with minimal errors.
It is important to seek professionals in the publishing industry to evaluate your manuscript and edit it before printing. If you write a good story, readers who like the type of books you write will eventually read it. It takes a lot of patience and word of mouth.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish The Helpers: An International Tale of Espionage and Corruption?
SEN: Every story is different. Nightmare Along the River Nile was more straightforward because I knew what I wanted to convey beforehand. If a story is more complicated like The Helpers, I start with a picture in my head and then I put it on paper, indicating the main characters and situations. I cross-reference the characters with the situations, and then I decide on the supporting characters before I write the plots and subplots.
After developing the story, I go through it many times, and add or delete some scenes. Finally, I give the manuscript to professional editors to read through. Sometimes they come up with developmental ideas which I incorporate, but mostly they correct grammatical errors. It took me five years to write the two books because I was new to literary writing, and I was working at the same time.
JP: What’s next for Suzanna E. Nelson?
SEN: I am researching for a sequel to The Helpers and developing the plot because people keep asking for the sequel. Hopefully, I will have it done by next summer.
Amazon Profile: http://www.amazon.com/Suzanna-E.-Nelson/e/B004WNAH6I
Trailer for Nightmare: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw-3H5oLBbk