Susan McClurg Berman

Neither my children nor my husband has ever listened to a word I’ve said about the life I led in Venezuela from 1957-64.  Once I mailed the last college check, moved all my five kids out of the house, and retired from work, the opportunity and the time became available for me to write my memoir,  Maracaibo Oil Brat – a Boomer’s Story.  My parents moved from small town Orange on the Texas Gulf coast to tropical, oil rich Maracaibo, which proved to be a difficult adjustment for me.  Within two months, I’d lived through a major revolution – armed soldiers roared into my American school compound and closed it for five weeks – and I became ill with hepatitis which required hospitalization with a non-English speaking physician in attendance.

The difficult part came after that.  I had to learn Spanish.  For the next seven years, I endured typical teen growing pains with a Latin beat.  My haven, my hang out, became the Creole Club where I swam during the day and watch movies at night in an open air theater.  And there were parties.  And dancing.  And falling in love.

When I thought I’d just about figured out how to survive life in Maracaibo, I had to go to boarding school in the states while my parents stayed in Venezuela.  No common boarding school for me.  This was a Baptist – which meant no dancing – co-ed military school.  Military for the boys but not the girls.  I never knew people went to church and chapel that many times in one week.  I returned to Maracaibo for Christmases and summers for a dose of sanity – and swimming, dancing, and kissing.

That’s a quick wrap up of the book I’ve finished.  Yes, I’ve tried to get an agent and have 14 rejections to show for it.  I must wait until I grow more Kevlar siding on my feelings before I submit more query letters.

My writing experiences have been varied.  I wrote skits for school and once a play in junior high.  While in Maracaibo, I wrote long descriptive letters to friends in the states.  What else was there to do during siesta?  In high school, I wrote for and edited our school newspaper.  In college, I wrote all the time because that is what Spanish and History majors do.  Most of my zillion work history years had something to do with writing – usually rewriting and correcting my boss’s lousy letters.  During my last few years of work, I wrote dull contract benefit changes for submission to the California Department of Corporations.  There was no way to make that stuff interesting.  Besides, Sacramento has no sense of humor.

What else?  Besides my memoir, I have three works in progress.  A fiction piece, “The Enchanted Snakes of Quiriquire,” is about two guys commissioned to trample through a restricted head hunter filled jungle to photograph snakes with mythical powers.  My historical fiction piece, “Houston Women,” involves six women and what they did before hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  There’s “Gary Termite” which deals with humans and termites living in harmony, from the termites point of view.

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