Culture & PeopleBooks“The Gold Dark Summer - A Boarding School Story” by Susan Papas

“The Gold Dark Summer – A Boarding School Story” by Susan Papas

Author Susan Papas: “Indie publishing is not easy, but immensely satisfying. You control your own work from start to finish.”

Filmmaker and translator
Filmmaker, writer, literary translator, and more, Susan Papas’s latest role is as independent author, writing and publishing her first novel, “The Gold Dark Summer”, sub-titled “A Boarding School Story”. The book started life as a screenplay before Susan decided to re-write it as a novel, writing mainly in her spare time. For many years she worked with her husband, acclaimed director Michael Papas, helping to produce his ground-breaking films, and after moving from London to Cyprus they ran the Acropole Cinemas in Nicosia together. In recent years she has translated Cypriot literature from Greek to English, working with authors, with the PEN Society of Cyprus, the cultural magazine “In Focus”, and the EU – translating extracts of the novel “The Day the River Froze” by Stavros Christodoulou, winner of the EU Prize for Literature in 2020.

A coming-of-age novel set in post-war England
THE GOLD DARK SUMMER is the story of one summer in the life of a young girl in 1959, in an England emerging from the long aftermath of World War 2. Partially inspired by the author’s own experiences at boarding-school, the book creates total immersion in 14-year-old Sadie’s world, identifying with the passions, dreams and struggles of a young person moving from childhood to adolescence, not so different from today. She defies the rules of her strict English boarding school with acts of minor rebellion: reading to room-mates after lights out, organising midnight feasts, accepting dangerous dares. But in her fourteenth summer she risks disgrace, the loss of friendship, exclusion from the coveted Music Festival, even expulsion from school, to grasp the love and adventure she dreams of. And when her world falls apart, she must find the strength and maturity to face the storm and emerge not only older and wiser, but victorious.

Choosing to self-publish
Rather than going the long route of searching out the right agent who would then have to find the right publisher, a process which can take many years, the author joined the Alliance of Independent Publishers, a highly respected organisation which gives valuable support and advice to the growing army of self-publishers. It’s a relatively new way of getting your work to readers, in large part made possible by the advent of e-reading devices such as the Kindle, and over the last dozen years the standards both in terms of content and appearance have advanced in leaps and bounds. Some of today’s most successful authors are self-publishers, or started as such. The upside is the control one has over one’s own creation, the downside is the constant struggle to make one’s book stand out from the thousands published every month.

At the Book Festival, Acropolis Park, 15 October
This debut novel recently started its online career and is already garnering editorial praise and being considered for awards. The paperback is now in Cyprus, and will soon be available at bookshops all over the island. The author will be signing her book at the Book Festival in Acropolis Park in Nicosia on Saturday 15 October, hosted at the booth of the Ant Comic Bookstore. For further information about where to buy the book contact the author online at

A selection of critical praise for “The Gold Dark Summer”
“An eloquent novel detailing the ins and outs of an English boarding school in the late 1950s, Susan Papas’ The Gold Dark Summer is a lushly descriptive work about the delights and dangers of forbidden first love. Sadie, a young scholarship student at Bracken Hill who lost her father in WWII, falls for a boy and must cope with the consequences, including the betrayal of friends. Papas’ poignant book vividly captures the magic and excitement of youth, where every change and new experience is a dramatic opportunity for personal growth and exploration, offering a look at adolescence from a historical perspective that is wholly recognizable in the present day.”
The Self-Publishing Review – 5 stars

“In her debut novel “The Gold Dark Summer”, Susan Papas gives readers a dreamy, vivid backdrop upon which she paints the coming-of-age story of 14-year-old Sadie Stirling. Papas’s honest exploration of her protagonist’s inner world and outer life takes place over the course of a season at a British boarding school in the late 1950s. This slice of Sadie’s life is a particularly life-changing one, and Papas doesn’t miss a moment of it. … this is a worthwhile read for those seeking a realistic reminder of what it’s like to be young, and of how, as one character aptly puts it, “Growing up is like walking blindfold through a minefield.” That is: terrifying but exhilarating, with everything raw and brand-new. Papas conjures this feeling well with her detailed, poetic prose, and does so in a way that lingers long after Sadie’s story has concluded. “The Gold Dark Summer” is a coming-of-age story that demonstrates the author’s keen sense of poetry, emotion, and empathy.”
The Indie Reader Review – 5 stars

“An elegy for adolescence and a simpler age, sensitive, insightful, bittersweet, and poignant. The characters are strong and engaging, the boarding school setting highly evocative, the descriptions both lyrical and filmic in their clarity.”
Debbie Young, author of the St Bride’s School series and Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series

“The story´s cleverly plotted, the setting is well-described, and the characters jump off the page. Is this a girl´s book? Possibly. But I´m a boy – or I was – and I thought it was a captivating read. Highly recommended!”
A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review – 5 stars

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