MFA Alumna and Animal Enthusiast Releases Second Book
April 04, 2012
Susan Nusser (MFA, ‘01) loves horses and spending all day at the barn. It’s no surprise that the title of her second book is Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions, to be published this month by St. Martin’s Press. The book chronicles three years in the lives of foals born in the barns of Kentucky’s Taylor Made Farm, a breeding farm notorious for its championship horses. In her book, Nusser unveils the story of the vets, the drugs, the surgeries, the long hours, and the hard work it takes to breed a Derby hopeful. From the birth of the new crop of foals, to the annual yearling sales, and finally to the Derby, Nusser gives the reader an insider’s view of the hardship and heartache that accompany the potential champion horses.
The Thoroughbred industry, says Nusser, “brings together such a diversity of people who are there because they love horses: Sheikhs and music industry moguls and sharecropper's sons and horse-crazy girls from New Jersey. Despite their differences, because they're all horsemen, everyone speaks the same language.” Her book captures the fascinating juxtaposition of the horse racing industry: the serenity of daily life on the farm and the excitement of a multimillion-dollar yearling auction.
This is not the first time Susan has written about competition horses. She explains, “My writing career began when both Maria Koundoura and Pam Painter helped me write a proposal for my first book, In Service to the Horse, which was published in 2004.” The book explores the special bond between equestrian sports horses and the grooms who care for them. She began working on the proposal for In Service to the Horse through an independent study with Maria Koundoura. Later, she worked closely with Pam Painter to finalize her work. Both professors were instrumental in helping Susan turn her writing into a professional book proposal.
Before settling into writing, Susan was unsure where her career path would take her. She admits, “I meandered quite a bit professionally and worked on farms sometimes because it was a nice break, and because it was the only job I could get.” Her first published piece was an essay about fishing with her father titled "Heart of Alaska,” published in the Beacon Street Review's Spring 2000 issue. She has also written about the human and animal relationship for Milwaukee Magazine. Her articles and stories include “All the Pretty Horses” (Milwaukee Magazine May '09), "Zoo Story” (MM August '07) and "Man Bites Dog” (MM August '06).
Today, as a writing teacher at Carroll University, Susan's advice to young writers is to read. Of her students, she says, “The readers are more energetic, more engaged, more knowledgeable and absolutely have a much better understanding of the relationship between a writer and their audience.” Beyond creative nonfiction, Susan’s areas of specialization include animal studies and journalism. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband, daughters, cats and a pit bull. Kentucky Derby Dreams can be purchased in stores and online beginning April 24.
Professor Steve Yarbrough has been elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and, in addition, will receive the 2015 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction this spring from the same organization.
Current MFA Jennifer Crystal recently signed a book deal with Belfort & Bastion for her memoir Et Voilà: One Traveler's Journey from Foreigner to Francophile. The publisher has a target launch date of Jan. 1.
WLP alum and writer Thomas Page McBee's memoir Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man was named on Publisher's Weekly's "Best Books of 2014."
Greg Nichols (MFA '11) released his first book, Striking Gridiron, A Town's Pride and a Team's Shot at Glory During the Biggest Strike in American History. The book was named a Junior Library Guild Fall 2014 Selection.
Lecturer Tamera Marko's writing collective with Emerson maintenance workers from Latin America and undergraduates presented a bilingual presentation: "Proyecto Carrito II: When the Student Receives an 'A' and the Worker Gets Fired: Driving our Own Narrative" at the Conference on Rhetoric and Composition.
Recent MA in Publishing & Writing alumni collaborated to launch a new literary genre journal called Strangelet. Alumni include Executive Editor Casey Brown (MA ’13), Managing Editor Leah Thompson (MA ’12), Production Editor Franco Alvarado (MA ’13), and Creative Director Chandra Asar (MA ’12).
WLP Professor Megan Marshall and the emersonWRITES program participate in the launch and unveiling of Boston as the country's first Literary Cultural District.
Michelle Bailat-Jones (MFA '05) won the inaugral Christopher Doheny award for her novel Fog Island Mountains. The award recognizes a book-lenth work exploring the experience of serious illness and includes a $10,000 prize and publication and promotion of the book.