The Lennox author who heals children with her stories
IT'S not an exaggeration to say Lennox Head children's author Susan Perrow weaves magic with her stories.
Magic that has healed traumatised children who have enduring unspeakable agonies, or simply the indiscriminate hurts and anxieties of growing up.
The 64-year-old published her first book of stories locally in 1996 and has now been published in eight languages across the globe.
She has travelled to India, China, Africa and Europe to launch books and present therapeutic writing workshops to parents and psychologists.
She describes her work as "taking children on a journey which always reaches a positive conclusion".
"There's no teacher talk or lecturing in the story, it's letting the story do the work," she said.
She recounted while in Kenya being contacted by a mother whose six-year-old son had been sexually abused by his nanny.
The abuse had left him with a sexually transmitted disease which made it agonising to urinate. It was eventually treated, but the trauma left him unwilling to go to the toilet at all. It often took him up to an hour - and he had to have mum by his side.
Susan met the boy and wrote a story for his mother to read to him.
"I gave the mother the story and two weeks later she emailed me and she said 'the only way I know he's going to the toilet is when I hear the flush'," she said.
"She said 'he wants the story all the time, and the story has done its work'.
"It's those kind of experiences that have really spurred me on."
China is now Susan's biggest market and she undertook a five-week trip there recently to launch her third volume of children's books in Mandarin.
After the explosion earlier this year in Tianjin, word spread around some schools in the city that her stories could help children with anxieties, and China's biggest online book retailer Dangdang ordered 3000 copies in one week.
People email Susan her from all over the world with questions and requests for stories, and she consistently gets amazing feedback.
"I feel like my career hasn't even peaked yet," she laughed.
"I never imagine this would happen in my life. Story work I find is an incredible privilege... for me it's like a form of natural medicine."