Novelist Susan Straight, author of Mecca
Susan Straight, author of the novel, Mecca, which Michael Connelly called “a masterpiece,” and I talked about her new novel and how it came to be. Susan Straight was born in Riverside, CA, and still lives there with her family. She’s passionate about home, California, the Santa Ana River, the foothills and the deserts, and has been writing about southern California and the inland area for forty years. From her kitchen window, she can see the hospital where she was born, which her three daughters find kind of hilarious and pathetic; most days, she walks her dog Angel beside the Santa Ana River as she has since childhood, and then past the classrooms at Riverside City College, where she wrote her first short story, at 16, which is also kind of hilarious, but hopeful. She has written about the people of California for her new memoir, In the Country of Women, based on women’s stories told for five generations to Straight and her daughters, in driveways and trucks, at parks and funerals. She’s published that memoir, eight novels, and two books for children. Her short stories and essays have been published everywhere from The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian to Alta, The Believer, McSweeneys, Zoetrope, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple, and Family Circle. She’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lannan Prize for Fiction, a California Gold Medal for Fiction, and the Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.