Language is my life; it has led me down paths I could not have predicted. In hindsight, I begin to understand how those paths have converged on a single road.
I began as a playwright, receiving the Julie Harris Playwriting Award and the New York Drama League Award, working as an NEA Writer-in-Residence in San Francisco, and being named as a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award for British and American Women Playwrights. I am a veteran of the Playwrights Festival at Sundance Institute for the Arts and the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference and have crossed the country working on productions and workshops of my plays.
Fiction became my focus after starting my family and moving to the Carolinas in 1995. I hold an MFA in Fiction-writing from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina and was awarded a Regional Artist Grant from the Arts and Sciences Council there. Since 2009, my husband and I have made our home in a small town in South Carolina, where stray animals and stories are thick on the ground. (None are turned away.)
My second novel, Troublefield, will also be published by Algonquin Books (due out in 2021). Like The Second Mrs. Hockaday, Troublefield is based on true events and takes place in upstate South Carolina. The protagonist, Calla Stout, a cotton mill spinner in 1912, is desperate to leave Troublefield and distance herself from a difficult childhood, but instead agrees to enter into an unconventional marriage with the lone attorney in town. In the process she and her family are caught up in racial tensions and homophobia fanned by the self-serving business practices of the mill owners, with disastrous results.
Link to my Facebook Author site to see current news, updates and photos of my tours through the southeast: Susan Jane Rivers.
Link to my personal blog, Where the Catbird Sings: One Writer's Chronicle of Life in a Small Town in the American South