Author Interview: When The Smoke Clears by Chrissy Guinery - Surviving the Australian bushfires

Sunday, 7 June 2020

When The Smoke Clears by Chrissy Guinery 
Released: 20 May 2020
Published by: Fifty Days Press
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 205
The whole world held its breath as 2020 dawned and Australia was on fire. The final toll was breathtaking: 18 million hectares burned, a billion animals killed, 2,800 homes destroyed.

Even more tragic-the loss of 33 people in the fires. In When The Smoke Clears, fire survivor and author Chrissy Guinery presents the human face behind these figures, through first-hand accounts of the day to day struggle to breathe, to believe, to love-under a pall of smoke and in the path of fire. It's the story of survival that represents the experience of thousands of Australians from the 2019-20 bushfire season, right through to the impact of the coronavirus. And it also begins to answer the question-how do you live, laugh and hope again after your family has been threatened, homes lost, children terrified and the countryside blackened.

When The Smoke Clears is essential reading for anyone in the world who grieved for Australia as it burned, and for anyone at anytime who is wondering where they will find the strength to go on.
When The Smoke Clears is an important release which provides an insightful and raw insight into the experiences of people living on the south coast of NSW who experienced the devastating bushfires last year. Click the link below to hear from Chrissy Guinery, Bateman’s bay Rural Fire Service Captain Ian Aitken and Eurobadalla Shire Mayor, Liz Innes for their take on this book:

Author Interview with Chrissy Guinery

Firstly, congratulations on publishing this book, it is such an important account of the bushfires which presents what happened in such a deeply personal and moving way. What were some of the biggest challenges you came across in writing it?

Time and Tears.

TIME: There was a sense of urgency to get the book out while the topic was 'hot'. I knew the fire victims needed it as a tool to help heal, and others needed it to discover the impact their assistance is having on us all.

TEARS: Lots of tears - some sad tears as I revisited painful, scary and uncertain days, and some happy tears as I recalled all the love and care showered upon my daughter and our community after losing 501 homes to the fire.

Faith is a strong underpinning source of strength that comes through many of the accounts in this book, including your own. How has that shaped the approach you took to both bringing these stories together and having the resilience to keep going even as you saw families around you lose their homes?

Often when you go through trauma, it feels like your world is falling apart so you look for something solid and stable, for me, that's my faith in God. Prayers play a major role in healing through stress, trauma and facing the unknown day after day.

Faith helped us remember we were not alone, and we didn't have to get through it all in our own strength. Leaning on God brought us hope as we lived under a sky of thick smoke for more than 2 months. Hope is what we all needed most, as daily we didn't know if we were going to lose more homes and more lives.  

How did the writing process for 'When The Smoke Clears' differ from your other books 'Room to Breathe' and 'Falling Up Stairs'?

I am an eclectic person, so the books I write are all very different. Falling Up Stairs was lots of zany fun, all about living in a van travelling Australia. Room To Breathe was inspired to help people find a reason to shine after hearing about the staggering suicide statistics of our nation. When The Smoke Clears is a healing journey, it was cathartic and I knew it was to become an essential Australian resource written from the harrowing two months inside the 2019/2020 fires.

Though my books are all different 'flavours', they are all similar in that they are raw and real, and all of them are designed to bring hope and healing.

Was there a particular moment or quote from this book which hold particular significance for you?

There are a few, but I guess the most impacting was an incident the day after my six-year-old grandson's home had burnt down, leaving the family with nothing. I took him some clothes and a toy from his cousin, a little red motor bike. Still in shock, he sat on my knee and played with the toy motor bike for 20 minutes or more before looking up into my eyes and saying, 'I have one toy now, Granny.'

That moment will remain with me forever.  

What is the main message you hope readers will be able to take from 'When the Smoke Clears'?

Together we win. That's one of my mantras. It takes community to rise, to heal and be able to move forward. By linking arms with others, reaching out to help and to comfort, we can get through anything. We were never meant to do life alone.

Do you have any tips on how we can continue to support families and communities that have been devastated by the fires and are still recovering?

Absolutely. Give and Pray.

GIVE: It's a small word with huge impact. Give your time to listen to their stories; validate them. Give your money - either by visiting the small businesses that have struggled since December last year or by sowing into the families themselves.

PRAY: Pray for peace, strength, resilience and hope for families, communities & towns left struggling to rebuild from ruins. 

About the author

Chrissy Guinery is all about empowering others. As a successful author and motivational speaker, Chrissy is renowned for her infectious joy, passionate faith and her desire to see others rise to fulfil their purpose and potential. To achieve this, she has been sharing her life secrets for more than 20 years in a down-to-earth relatable style, leaving people with essential tools for pursuing a more effective and fulfilling life. She is the author of When The Smoke Clears (2020), Falling Up Stairs (2016) and Room to Breathe (2018).