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Susan DeFreitas has never been able to choose between fantasy and reality, so she lives and writes in both. A first-generation American of Caribbean descent, she is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won the 2017 Gold IPPY Award for Best Fiction of the Mountain West; her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been featured (or is forthcoming from) The Writer’s Chronicle, The Huffington Post, The Utne Reader, Story Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and High Desert Journal, along with numerous other journals and anthologies. In 2017, The Oregonian named her “One of 25 Oregon Authors Every Oregonian Must Read.”
She writes science fiction under SDeFreitas Timmons and shares works in progress through Patreon.
An author, editor, and educator, Susan DeFreitas’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) The Writer’s Chronicle, The Utne Reader, The Nervous Breakdown, Story Magazine, Southwestern American Literature, Weber—The Contemporary West, High Desert Journal, Daily Science Fiction, and City of Weird: Thirty Otherworldly Portland Tales, along with more than twenty other journals and anthologies. She is the author of the novel Hot Season, winner of the 2017 Gold IPPY Award for Best Fiction of the Mountain West. In 2017, The Oregonian named her “One of 25 Oregon Authors Every Oregonian Must Read“; her work has also been nominated for a Best of the Net award and covered in Huffington Post Books, The Rumpus, and Bookriot.
Susan serves as a collaborative editor and book marketing strategist with Indigo Editing & Publications, as well as a book coach with Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator program. Each year, she presents a variety of classes and workshops for teens and adults, both online and in person. She is a regular contributor and instructor at LitReactor and holds an MFA in Fiction from Pacific University. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and their disagreeable cat.
My father was born in Guyana; my mother was born in a small town near the coast of Lake Michigan. They met in the Caribbean, where they both worked on sailing ships, and moved to Hart, Michigan, where both my mother and grandmother were born, and where I was as well.
When my parents divorced, my father returned to the sea, and after that, I spent the school year with my mom, in the Midwest, and my vacations with my dad, first in the Caribbean and later in South Florida.
When you are a traveler, you are a storyteller, always telling stories about the places that you’ve been, the places that you’ve known. I am such a storyteller, as are my parents, as are my Guyanese grandparents, who helped to raise me; their stories had a profound impact on my development as a writer, as did those of my maternal grandmother.
My mother’s mother taught school in a one-room school house in the 1940s, and she lived in a yellow brick farmhouse full of the antiques she collected, among them the complete Oz tales by L. Frank Baum, which I read again and again, along with virtually anything containing myths or fairytales. These stories are a deep well for storytellers that never run dry, and I draw from them in many ways in my creative work.
While I didn’t always fit in at school in rural West Michigan, I never lacked for friends, because I grew up in an alternative community, which started as a natural foods co-op. The first generation of our co-op consists of baby boomers who went “back to the land” in the 1970s; these people are like aunts and uncles to me, and the kids I grew up with are like my cousins. They’re the reason you’ll find all sorts of alternative communities in my stories, full of dreamers and makers and builders and wild children making forts in the woods.
Later in life, I found other tribes—first at the Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan, where I studied creative writing, and later at Prescott College, in Prescott, Arizona. Both of these are very special, very weird schools, and I’m grateful to the mentors and kindred spirits I found there.
In college, I fell in love with the Arizona high country, and to this day, this part of the world remains a strong influence on my fiction. This was also the place where, in the late nineties, I met and joined a group of circus performers, with whom I traveled the country with a gypsy school bus caravan and saw many unlikely things.
Naturally, the only thing I could do with any of this was to write stories.
This is the story behind my stories, the influences that shape my work–mainly fiction, but incorporating nonfiction and poetry as well. My chief values as a professional are:
1) literary citizenship and community
2) fandom as the foundation of the creative life
3) curiosity and pleasure as the foundation of creative work
4) the responsibility of the artist to grapple with the significant issues of the day.
I prefer big talk to small talk, and I welcome your thoughts and questions on my life and work.