Author uses fiction to convey the true horrors of Syria

The author Cathy Cassidy has told Cramlington students how she used her latest work of fiction to convey the true horrors of war-torn Syria.

Sami’s Silver Lining tells the story of a family who escape Syria and head to England, where their relatives live.

On the way teenager Sami’s parents and sister die until eventually he leads a group of children to safety.

Cathy – who has written 30 novels for young adults – said she had been thinking about writing the book for a long time, but speeded up her plans when she believed sections of the media were misrepresenting the plight of the Syrian refugees.

“I wanted my readers – who I know are amazing and full of compassion and empathy – to know why somebody like Sami was making that journey. It’s nothing you would undertake for fun,” she said.

This visit – her third to Cramlington Learning Village – came at the end of a week-long nationwide tour promoting Sami’s Silver Lining.

“It’s always such a warm welcome and such enthusiastic young people with a great love of reading,” said Cathy, who was born in Coventry and now lives on Merseyside. “The North East in general is so gorgeous too. It’s one of my favourite parts of the country.”author-cathy-cassidy-with-cramlington-learning-village-students-3

At each school she has appealed to students and staff to support charities helping Syrian refugees. She is donating a large part of her advance payment.

“The book can change people’s minds, but the money can change people’s lives. This book means a lot to me. It’s a 100% labour of love,” she said, and hoped it would lead to a greater understanding of the Syria crisis. “It helps to see it in a story setting. It’s dramatic and very sad, but there’s a lot of hope in that book and a lot of life affirming stuff as well.”

As well as Year 7 and 8 students from Cramlington Learning Village, children from Hareside and Shanklea Primary Schools also visited the school to hear and meet Cathy.

“We think it’s really important for students, who will soon be joining the school, to have the opportunity to listen to authors talk about their work and the importance of reading,” said librarian Eileen Armstrong.

“Even if they’ve not read any of Cathy’s books up to now, we hope that meeting her will encourage them to try. We are delighted that so many authors visit us and, without doubt, it has helped foster a passion for reading which is so evident at the school.”

For more details about Cathy’s work, visit her website