Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University. Susan is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not working on a novel, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: http://susanlmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at www.facebook.com/susan.meissner
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t driven to put my thoughts down on paper. I attribute this love for writing to a creative God and to parents who love books and more particularly to a dad who majored in English and passed on a passion for writing.
I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and am the second of three daughters. My first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories I wrote when I was eight. My second-grade teacher gave me the journal in which I recorded these poems and stories. To my knowledge I was the only student in her class that she gave a journal to; she must have seen promise in me. In high school my freshman composition teacher found all kinds of ways to encourage me to develop my skills as a writer. Without telling me beforehand, he read the first composition I ever wrote for him aloud to the class. That’s how much he liked it. I have never forgotten how it felt to hear him begin to read something to the entire class and realize it was something I had written.
I didn’t do a lot of writing in the years my husband was on active duty in the Air Force, when we were living overseas, or when we were raising our four children. When we moved to rural Minnesota in 1993 after seven years in the Air Force — five of them spent in Europe — I became aware of a gnawing desire to write a novel. I ignored it while the children were young, choosing to try writing articles for magazines. Nothing ever got published however, so I began to think my best days as a writer had already happened in high school with Mr. Barone.
In 1995, I was offered a job as a part-time reporter for my county newspaper. The publisher gave me my own weekly column, In 1998, I was named editor of the Mountain Lake/Butterfield Observer Advocate, the town’s weekly paper, after the county newspaper purchased it. I was honored to win several awards over the years, but the best part of my four years as editor was having my paper named the Best Weekly Newspaper in Minnesota by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in 2002.
That year became a rather pivotal one for me as a writer. My beloved paternal grandfather died in July 2002 — my Papa — and his passing had a profound effect on me. He was 84 when he died, I was 42. My life suddenly seemed very much half-over. I knew I didn’t want to come to the end of my days having only dreamed of writing a novel. I resigned as editor of the newspaper, which was a very hard decision to make, and set out to write my first book, Why the Sky is Blue. It took four months to write and ten months to be accepted by a publisher and I’ve been writing novels ever since. My favorite genre is contemporary fiction with a historical thread running through it.
Currently, my husband is an associate pastor at a church in San Diego, and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. When I’m not working on a new novel, I enjoy teaching workshops on writing, as well as spending time with my family, listening to or making music, reading great books, and traveling.