BIO Joseph Suste is
an engineer, real estate broker, actor, playwright, fiction writer and poet. He
guides two non-profits, Ashland Contemporary Theatre and the Farnley Tyas
Foundation, both of Ashland, Oregon, as an active board member. His written work
is peer reviewed at a weekly writers’ workshop, and a bi-weekly playwrights’
workshop. Joe is an organizer of the Atelier, an informal group which sponsors
monthly play readings for local playwrights’ by local actors. He often serves as
a reading actor for the Atelier. His short stories and social commentaries have
been published in the Medford Mail Tribune and the Southern Oregon University
school paper. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering
from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and has studied in creative
writing classes at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. He has been a
radio announcer, performed in community theatre, (husband in Wanda’s Visit by
Christopher Durang), and is active in a theatrical group acting-out and
reciting poetry from memory. He resides with his wife and daughters on a ten
acre mini-ranch on the outskirts of Medford, Oregon.
MEDFORD MAIL TRIBUNE ARTICAL PUBLISHED February 20, 2015
Local author Joseph Suste has penned a novel based on his
experiences sending his rebellious daughter to a wilderness survival camp
By Vickie Aldous
For the Tidings Posted Feb. 20, 2015 at 12:01 AM
When Joseph Suste and his wife
realized they were losing control over their teenage daughter, they took
desperate measures — dropping her off at a teen recovery camp in the wilderness
outside Bend and leaving her there for months. Years later, Suste used the
experience as the inspiration for his recently published book "Sharp
Obsidian," which is available at Bloomsbury Books and Tree House Books in
Ashland, Quality Paperbacks in Talent and online through Amazon and Suste's
website at www.josephsuste.com.
In an interview with the Daily
Tidings, the author, who lives outside Medford, discussed his book.
Q. What was the origin of your book
The book is fiction, but it's based
on an experience I had when my 14-year-old daughter was out of control. I got
lost in what to do. At 14 years old, teenagers are becoming independent of
their parents and they realize they can take charge of themselves. They don't
have the experience to go into the world and make a living. But they recognize
they don't have to follow all the rules anymore.Older 19-year-old guys had
decided to take charge of my daughter. We put her in a teen recovery camp
southeast of Bend. At the time, it was called Obsidian Trails. They camped in
the desert with no lodge or cabins — just bare desert. They would set up camp
in the middle of nothing, make fire and shelter, and go to sleep. The next day
they would hike three to five miles and do it again. It was no-impact camping,
so they left no trace behind. My daughter was in this school for 90 days.
Q. How did you get a teenage girl's
My daughter is now in her late 20s.
I interviewed her for her side of the story about her feelings and the events
that happened. The book is written from two points of view — the father and
daughter. I think it's valuable to parents to see the teenager's point of view
and it's valuable for teenagers to see what parents are going through. The book
is fiction, but the emotions are real.I had the journal my daughter wrote out
in the field. They recommended she write poems. I have those poems and they are
in the book. I edited them somewhat.One thing I didn't realize was how
difficult it was for her when she was in this situation. We did exchange
letters while she was gone. The only communication was by letter. Hers were
reviewed by the school before she sent them. Her letters couldn't be full of
complaints that would get parents to relent and bring her home. The rigor of
the school was much more intense than I realized. When we got her back, she was
pretty muscular. She was a different person.
Q. What is your daughter's
perspective on the experience now?
She doesn't want to look back at it
at all. She thinks it was a terrible part of her life. It did pull her away
from people who were influencing her negatively. She was closer to her best
friends than she was to her family. They've had issues with drugs, pregnancy
and run-ins with the law. She sees now they were a bad influence.
Q. What was the most difficult thing
about writing the book?
The hardest part was getting her
voice right. I could do it because I had her journals. It took me five years to
write this book. It's my first book and it was a learning process. I worked
with a writers' group in Ashland and took it through that group 10 pages at a
time. Both parents and teenagers are appropriate readers for the book. It gives
good insight into the emotions and thoughts of parents and teenagers.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be
reached at 541-776-4486
or email@example.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.