Thirty years ago Susie Levan had the worst possible day. She and her seven year old daughter were kidnapped and trapped in the hot trunk of her car. The mother and daughter survived the ordeal but suffered from the trauma. In her new memoir Getting to Forgiveness — What a Near-Death Experience Can Teach Us About Loss, Resilience and Love from Bee Hive Publishing, the South Florida resident writes about how she was finally able to deal with her awful near death experience.
What inspired you to write Getting to Forgiveness?
Susie Levan: It has taken me 31 years to put my story on paper. During the last 20 years I have spoken about “my story” to many people at different venues. After I spoke, people would come up to me and encourage me to write a book. It felt like this was the right time to share my journey, depth and scope of the events that transpired.
What was your writing process for the book?
Even though I was the publisher of Balance Magazine for ten years, I am not a professional writer. In fact, I am a reluctant writer. I really had no idea how to start the writing process. A friend gave me advice and told me to begin writing by breaking down the book into chapters, cover what each chapter would describe in a few paragraphs and then start the writing process. So, I purchased a three-ring binder, put in twelve tabs and off I went. Some days I would write for hours and some days I wasn’t inspired and I didn’t write at all.
Were there any other books or writers that influenced Getting to Forgiveness?
Even though I am a voracious reader of everything metaphysical and spiritual, I was not influenced by one book in particular, but by many books. In fact, in the back of the book I even have a recommended reading list (including Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy among a dozen other books).
What is your hope for what readers will take away from the book?
Based on what I consider an amazing gift through a Near-Death Experience—a deep spiritual awakening occurred. I hope that the reader takes away from my spiritual revelations the importance of forgiveness and a daily meditation ritual and how these factors change your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Meditation has been a game changer for me as it has been for many.
It says, “net proceeds of all book sales are donated to South Florida non-profits.” Can you talk about what non-profits you’ll be donating to and why you chose them?
I chose to give 100% of all gross book sales for the first 90 days to United Way of Broward County, Hispanic Unity of Florida, Nova Southeastern University, Junior Achievement of South Florida, Broward Public Library Foundation, Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, Habitat for Humanity Broward and Women of Color Network, Inc. Each and every one of these nonprofits have been near and dear to my heart. I have been very fortunate to be able to contribute financially for the last thirty years to these nonprofits and my goal is to continue to give back to my community. After the first 90 days, the net proceeds will continue to go to nonprofits.
What can we expect from your book launch party December 2 at Broward Center for Preforming Arts?
With over 300 people responding that they will attend, I am beyond excited and overwhelmed with their support. We will be eating, drinking and celebrating the launch of my book. Having a book published is a big achievement!