Author Susan Cushman: 5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author
READ widely, in many genres. I keep a list of the books I read every year, and looking back over the past few years, I see that I’ve read fairly equal numbers of fiction and nonfiction books. I especially love memoirs about people who have struggled with abuse and/or addiction, both of which are true in my life. In fiction, I read mostly Southern contemporary fiction — including everything from “chick lit” and “beach reads” to “grit lit” (mostly written by men) and historical fiction. Of course, I love a beautiful work of literary prose, which is for me a good way to improve my own writing.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Cushman.
Susan Cushman is the author of the new book John and Mary Margaret (Koehler Books, June 2021) her second novel and seventh book. It is based in her home state of Mississippi and her current city of Memphis. Cushman’s published books include Friends of the Library (short stories), Cherry Bomb (novel), Tangles and Plaques: A Mother and Daughter Face Alzheimer’s (memoir), and three anthologies she edited.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
I always wanted to be a writer, and cut my teeth on my junior high school’s literary journal and my high school’s newspaper in the 1960s. As a young wife and mother, I was mostly a stay-at-home mom, doing freelance writing on the side. Once our third child left for college, I began writing in earnest, initially publishing over a dozen essays in journals and anthologies.
Finally, between 2017 and 2021, I published seven books, with six different publishers. The most recent is a novel, JOHN AND MARY MARGARET. I share a few things in common with the protagonist, Mary Margaret. We…