- MFA, San Diego State University
- BA, Middlebury College
Susan is the author of the novel, Elsey Come Home (Knopf 2019), which delves into the far corners of addiction, marriage, and motherhood. Her memoir The Foremost Good Fortune was an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick, an Entertainment Weekly Memoir to Read, and the winner of the Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her novel Paris Was the Place was a People Magazine Top Pick, a Slate Magazine Summer Read, an Elle Magazine Readers Prize Selection and a Boston Globe Top Pick. Her third book, the poetry and photography collaboration Stop Here This is the Place, was a Real Simple Magazine Must Read and won the Maine Literary Award for Publishing Excellence.
Susan has received grants and fellowships from The Macdowell Colony, The Breadloaf Writers Conference, The Maine Arts Commission, and The Massachusetts Arts Commission. She was the Maine Literary Fellow for 2016.
Other work has appeared in magazines including The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, Ploughshares, The North American Review, The Harvard Review, The Virginia Quarterly, The Three Penny Review, The New England Review, Witness, Downeast Magazine, Middlebury Magazine, and Omnivoracious.
She's taught creative writing and literature at colleges including Colby College, the University of Maine at Farmington, and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where she was awarded the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer Fellowship.
Susan was raised in rural Maine, and after several years in California, Boston, and Beijing, she now lives in Portland (Maine) with her husband and two sons, where she is a founder of The Telling Room, a creative writing center serving 4,000 Maine students annually. The Telling Room is guided by a belief in social justice and the understanding that when children have access to their own stories, their lives are changed as well as the communities they live in.
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