- MFA, San Diego State University
- BA, Middlebury College
Susan is the author of five books, including her most recent novel Landslide (Knopf ’21). She’s been awarded multiple MacDowell Colony Fellowships, as well as the Breadloaf Workshop Fellowship, the Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellowship, and the Massachusetts Art Commission Fellowship.
Her novel Elsey Come Home, was a Most Anticipated/Best Book in 2019 at Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine, Amazon Books, Pop Sugar, Huffington Post, Southern Living Magazine, Fodors, Library Journal, Maine Women’s Magazine, and others. Her memoir The Foremost Good Fortune was the first book she published, and it was an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick, an Entertainment Weekly Memoir to Read, and winner of the Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her first novel Paris Was the Place came out after the memoir and was a People Magazine Top Pick, a Slate Magazine Summer Read, and an Elle Magazine Readers Prize Selection. Her third book was another animal: a poetry and photography collaboration called Stop Here This is the Place, which was a Real Simple Magazine Must Read.
Susan has won the Maine Literary Book Award and the Maine Award for Publishing Excellence, and her poetry collection was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times, The Harvard Review, The Daily Beast, The New England Review, Ploughshares and other publications. Her Tedx talk on the “Power of Story” has been widely viewed. She is the co-founder of the Telling Room, a creative writing center for youth, and she's taught creative writing and literature at Colby College, Emerson College, The University of Maine, The University of Massachusetts, where she was awarded the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer Fellowship, The Haystack School, and The Spannochia Foundation, where she leads annual writer’s retreats in Italy.
Susan was raised in Maine, and after years in California, Boston, and Beijing, she lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two sons. She is a founder of The Telling Room, a creative writing center in Portland guided by a belief in social justice and the importance of teaching children the power of their stories.
Areas of Scholarship
Contemporary literary fiction
Social Justice and Arts Education
Elsey Come Home, a novel (Knopf 2019)
Stop Here This is the Place, a poetry/photography collaboration (Downeast Books 2016)
Paris Was the Place, a novel (Knopf 2013)
The Foremost Good Fortune, a memoir (Knopf 2010)
Book Excerpts in O Magazine Online, The Daily Beast, The New York Times Magazine and She Writes.
American Library Association Annual Conference
TED Talk: Engage
Maine Festival of the Book
Brattleboro Literary Festival
Stanford University Canary Foundation
Maine Women’s Fund Annual Conference
Maine Cancer Foundation’s Annual Conference
Maine Publishers and Writers Alliance "Poetry and War Seminar.”
I am currently working on a novel set on the coast of Maine that follows two teenage boys and their mother and father through the collapse of ground fishing and hip-hop and vaping. It's a novel that explores gender and motherhood and addiction and marriage.
Awards and Recognition
Two MacDowell Colony Fellowships
Broadloaf Writers Conference Fellowship
Massachusetts Arts Council Fellowship
Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer Fellowship, UMASS Lowell
Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellowship
Elle Magazine Readers Prize Selection
Maine Literary Award for Publishing Excellence
Maine Literary Award for Memoir
Portland Press Herald’s “Women to Watch in Maine” Award