Susan Raby-Dunne is the author of Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman, the mostly true story of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae and his horse, Bonfire during WWI. Her second book, Hope in the Colour of Orange: Dutch Civilian Memories of War and Liberation, was a collaboration by her writers group, MMWG (Monday Morning Writers Group). Susan started MMWG, a diverse group of writers who have been meeting every Monday in Turner Valley, Alberta for 8 years. “Hope” is a collection of 25 powerful stories by Dutch Canadians who were teens during WWII. Her first book, Rest Your Head on the Wind, is an eclectic memoir of life by motorcycle for most of the last 37 years.
Susan was born and raised in Calgary, but moved to a farm near Black Diamond in 1997 where she raised her son and bred horses. Over decades she had dabbled in various kinds of writing; publishing crime features for a major Canadian newspaper, motorcycle travel and safety articles, short stories.
In 2006, Susan was seized by an interest in Canadaʼs famous soldier/physician/poet John McCrae, and the events behind his indelible war poem, In Flanders Fields. This began almost 7 years of research culminating in the creation of the book, Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman © 2012. This, in turn, led Susan into a passion, not only for our military history, but also for educating the public about our soldiers and veterans.
Susan is presently the Canadian representative of Soldierʼs Heart, an organization dedicated to healing soldiers and veterans of war trauma. With that organization and its leaders, Ed Tick and Kate Dahlstedt, Susan has gone to Viet Nam with veterans returning for the first time since the war for reconciliation and healing. She has also taken a WWII veteran back to Belgium and France for the first time since 1944. Both transformative and healing journeys.
At both the launches of books, Hope and Bonfire, Susan arranged to have serving soldiers speak about Canadians serving overseas then (WWII) and now (Afghanistan), and the meaning of Remembrance Day respectively. She delights in putting serving soldiers together with civilians who donʼt normally ever rub shoulders with our military. “Civilians are virtually always surprised and impressed with how dedicated, intelligent, and well spoken these people are.”
Through all this Susan is a former motorcycle safety instructor and long-time motorcycle enthusiast having racked up thousands of city and highway miles in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. “I do my best writing when Iʼm riding, or driving,” she says, in her head of course!
She is currently working on several projects; a short film – Liberation Day (working title), a feature film script that combines history, modern day science and the paranormal, and beginning research on a book about Canadians in the Viet Nam war. She is a long-time meditator, TM – keeps me grounded since my brain has no off switch – embraces spirituality of all kinds, but no particular religion as such, and has an abiding interest in the otherworldly. “Someday Iʼll write the story behind the story of Bonfire.”
Susan is presently putting together a tour of northern France and Flanders, Belgium for the 100th anniversary of the poem, In Flanders Fields, and the 2nd Battle of Ypres which was the first big battle the Canadians were in in WWI.
“As a small, select group we will be standing on the dyke north of Ieper/Ypres, Belgium in the approximate spot where the poem In Flanders Fields was written, 100 years hence on May 3, 2015. Contact Susan at: firstname.lastname@example.org for details.