Suzanne Strempek Shea

Past Updates

Thank you for being part of another busy year for me. Busy is a nice problem to have.
Takulandirani! That’s welcome in Chichewa. I’m brushing up on my extremely limited knowledge of the language as I look forwarding to welcoming Mags Riordan back to New England. She’s heading over from Malawi this month for ten days of book events with me. At each, she’ll be telling the story of the Billy Riordan Memorial Clinic in Chembe Village, Cape Maclear, Malawi, the subject of my book “This Is Paradise: An Irish Mother’s Grief, an African Village’s Plight and the Medical Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both.”
Happy winter!. You’ve read this here before: I love winter.
Thanks so much to so many readers and good souls in general for making this such a very busy and wonderful year for me.
Last post, I was waiting for the hum of the mail truck up the driveway, and Postman Kevin delivering the very first copies I’d see of my new book, "This Is Paradise: An Irish Mother's Grief, an African Village's Plight and the Medical Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both."

One day soon, I will wander down to my mailbox to find that my very cool postman, Kevin Kumpulanian, has left a long-awaited piece of mail: an actual copy of my new book, "This Is Paradise: An Irish Mother's Grief, an African Village's Plight and the Medical Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both."

A year ago, I finished writing "This is Paradise" the story of Irishwoman Mags Riordan and the medical clinic she founded in the Malawian village where her son died in 1999. I spend 3 ½ years working on this book, on three continents, and I'm thrilled to announce that it will be published in April.
I never liked playing tag. I am not a fast runner so I often was the one being told “You’re it!” And, as not a fast runner, whenever I was “it,” I took me ages to finally get my hand on somebody and be free of the stress of the whole thing.

Do you do the resolution thing?

Annually, my list includes the all-capped MAKE BETTER USE OF TIME.

Maybe leaving out the "my" was a start – I scrawled the line all the more quickly by skipping a word - but I also already knew the time was my own. How much I have, though, is the big mystery, as it is for all of us. I tend to hope for the most time possible, but also try to live like I don't have a lot left. Cancer was a great kick in the rear, as were the too-soon deaths of several souls dear to me. What do I want to do with the time I have on this planet?

The world changes every day. But in my corner of it, there have been great changes since I last posted. A pair of tornadoes tore through 19 Western Massachusetts communities on June 1, leaving a 39-mile path of destruction.
I hope this finds you reading something wonderful. Listening counts, too, and I've just had the great pleasure of listening to the CD of Barack Obama's first book, the 2004 "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance." This transfixing and so-honestly told story of family, race and identity delves into our president's early years, and if you do listen on CD, you'll hear him to a do as stellar job relating his story as he did writing it. Put this book next on your list.
Hi Everyone and Happy New Year! I hope it’ll be filled with many great things for you. The past year indeed held its share for me, and once again I thank so many fabulous and kind readers for their support and interest. Without you, I wouldn’t get to do this for a living. And I’m very happy to be living. This summer I marked the tenth anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis, a wakeup call that continues to tap me on the shoulder and remind me how lucky I am. As an old t-shirt of mine proclaims, I’m “Just glad to be here.”
I hope this finds everyone well and reading something fantastic. I have a stack of new titles awaiting me, several of those collected in July at the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast MFA residency.
It's sweltering here in Bondsville but it's been so cool to finish writing my sixth novel. I sent it to my agent on the first day of summer and that was a wonderful celebration.

It's time to ponder your summer reading picks, and plenty of great ideas will be offered at the third annual "Are You a Bookie?" book club event June 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Bay Path College, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, Mass.


On April 1, I'll celebrate release of the paperback of "Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith." Join me that night at 7 at the West Springfield Public Library in West Springfield, Mass., for a reading and signing. I'm very grateful for the kindness of so many faithful readers, and so many new ones, for keeping me so busy since the book was published by Beacon back in March of last year.

...and that includes the season of fall. I was seven hours north over the weekend, on Maine’s gorgeous Deer Isle, for a weekend retreat run by the magnificent Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (, on the beautiful drive saw enough leaves starting to turn. I love this season and the whole back-to-school feeling it provides, spurring us to new starts of all kinds. For me, those have included research for a new book I hope to soon propose, and I’ve been doing all that while continuing to promote "Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith." I'm very grateful for the kindness of so many faithful readers, and so many new ones, for keeping me that busy since the book was published by Beacon back in March.
A big hello from Bondsville as I update the site with one hand and pack for Maine with the other. I'm heading off to teach at the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast MFA program and looking forward to seeing so many wonderful students and staffers there.
I visited Edwards Books yesterday and saw stacks of proof that "Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith" is now in print. Janet Edwards has enthusiastically ordered something like 250 copies and I stood there thinking how it was just about two years ago that I started wondering what makes one Christian religion different from the next – and Tommy, as he often does, suggested "Write about it." The result is this book, my eighth, and my third of non-fiction.
Hello and greetings from New England, which is a big change from Florida, where I've spent the past three and a half months. I've just finished a semester as a visiting writer in the Creative Writing Department at the University of South Florida at Tampa ( Big thanks again to Rita Ciresi (, director of USF's Creative Writing Program, who suggested me for the post, and USF English Department Chair Hunt Hawkins, who hired me, and to the wonderful students in my Fiction III and Fiction Writing classes.
Here's an early look at the cover of the book that'll be out in March from Beacon Press. I did the final edits at Beacon's Boston headquarters a few weeks ago and got a look at this final version of the cover that day. I also met with my new publicist, Gina Frey and she and I are beginning a calendar of readings and signings for the new book. Anyone who'd like to book a "Sundays in America" reading or signing at a bookstore, library, social club or book group is invited to contact me or Gina ( I'll be traveling throughout the country to promote the book next spring and soon will be adding the first few dates to this site's events page.
Yes, I normally update my website more frequently than every six months! I apologize to those who've been checking, and I'm very happy to finally have the time to be posting some. Just yesterday I sent my editor the final chapters of a new book, "Sundays in America."
Greetings and wishes for peace this season, some of the type demonstrated here by sweet young Bisquick, our new pup, who came to live with us a month ago and is shown here meditating on Cape Cod last weekend during his first visit to the ocean.
Hello from New England, where I'm enjoying gorgeous fall scenery during a rare few days at home. Since April, I've been traveling each week to research a book on Protestant churches in America. Having been raised Catholic, I literally was told the ceiling would fall on me if I ever entered any other type of church. I'm both testing that theory and getting a great education about the rest of Christianity by attending Sunday services in churches from here to Hawaii.
Dear Readers:

Every author should have such an enthusiastic relative as I have in my sister-in-law Karen, who recently answered my long overdue "Hi, how are you" phone greeting with "Do you have a new book out yet?"

If you missed your chance to get there this year, make plans for next spring. Inspired by the beading main character in "Becoming Finola," Beadventure Travel has asked me to teach a memoir workshop in Ireland next spring. Here's the brochure, and our invitation to join us in April/May of 2007 for writing, beading and sightseeing!
"Too bad about Tatnuck."

I read that in one email. And then in another.

Hello Readers!

I write this on the official pub date for the new Harry Potter book, an exciting day in the world of books and bookstores. I'm teaching in the woods of Maine but several copies have made their way here and are being devoured already. I hope that whatever you're currently reading, you're enjoying it as much as these Harry readers are loving their books.

All that romance, mystery, drama, and other page-turning adventures from a year in a bookstore is now available in paperback. Beacon Press has created a slightly redesigned and slightly shining cover, and it still features the Van Gogh! If your usual book source doesn't have it yet, the paperback can be ordered by using the ISBN 0-8070-7259-1 The price is $14.
I'm not changing the photo this month, because the weather really hasn't changed much. Check back in June...

In the meantime, visit the "News" page on this site and enjoy the thorough and fascinating writing of Grazyna J. Kozaczka, an English professor at New York's Cazenovia College whose paper "The Invention of Ethnicity and Gender in Suzanne Strempek Shea's Fiction" is used with gratitude to both her and to The Polish Review (, which published this piece in its Vol. XLVIII, No. 3, 2003.