Writer

fiction

“Cheerleaders Can’t Afford To Be Nice is a funny, compassionate, and often painful account of the ways eccentricity and failure conspire to shape Crosby and threaten to shipwreck her conventional life.”

The Washington Post

Through Crosby Saiter takes us through the dark side of the American dream.”

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

 

ABOUT

SUSAN SAITER SULLIVAN HAS WRITTEN TWO NOVELS AND REPORTED FOR NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES IN NEW YORK AND CHICAGO. Her beats have included public housing, education, the courts, and lifestyles. In her investigative stories, Susan went undercover into a migrant worker camp and a nursing home rife with abuses.

One of her first feature stories for The New York Times was about single parents dealing with schools. On the much lighter side, her article on fishermen netting a twenty-two pound lobster brought rescue from-- Aquarium. Her favorite: the suburban lawn mower brigade in a Fourth of July parade. In recent years, she's written about life on Long Island's East End.

Photo: Alex Cretey Systermans, from New York Times Travel Section

Me, Mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma.

Some of Dad's jobs didn't work out, through no fault of his. Like sales training for Edsels.

When Edsel went bye-bye, so did we, from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. For Dad, Lincoln-Mercury. For me, a new junior high.great go to t for titles, paragraphs & more.

II don't remember having such big feet. 

Great-grandma's porch. Wow, I had big feet.

THE CIRCUITOUS ROUTE FROM SMALL TOWN, TO SUBURBS, TO CITIES 

Great-grandma was the Alma, Michigan hospital delivery room nurse for her first great-grandchild. Susan's Grandpa's great-great grandfather, Liberty Tanner Beardsley, in 1837, had hopped a Great Lakes steamboat from the East to Detroit. Afoot, he followed the Native American trails through virgin forest, finding  generous hosts in Ottawas. He built his cabin outside of Grand Rapids.

Susan's Scots-Irish collected bottles for money as a child and became a boxer and pool player in high school during the Great Depression. During WWII, the US Navy saw potential in him and sent him to officer training school and college and service in the Pacific.

Then came the auto industry's Golden Age. 

While his wife and Susan stayed in Alma, Dad hitchhiked down to Detroit to interview with Packard. His career took off, literally, and as he followed it the family lived in twelve houses and nine mid-western cities, and attend ten schools by the time she entered the University of Michigan.

WHAT SAVED ME WAS THAT THE TINY upstate town remained home base for holidays and summers, providing a sense of who I was, what my values were, and how much I was loved. The family joke at get-togethers was, "We're like the jello marshmallows that stuck together."

 

Her novel, Cheerleaders Can't Afford to be Nice, gives the sad--and the humorous--sides of being a perpetual new kid.

ALL THOSE STARING EYES. I can't see them anymore, but I feel them and hear the teacher: "Let's welcome Sue Sullivan, from--" In the silence, I'd think: "I don't care, because I'm not here. I'm picking cherries in Grandma's back yard. In math, I'd be way behind or ahead. At recess, I'd scout out caterpillars in the brush by myself. After a few days, faces had names and I had pals. But inevitably, Dad would come home with news "Kids, I'm being transferred." Or, "I'm trying something new."

ON THE HIGHWAYS THAT SPLIT THE ENDLESS cornfields, I'd travel out of the car and into a book. I was the characters, boy, girl, young, old, were me. I was Alec Ramsey befriending a wild stallion, Laura Ingalls braving out a winter in her prairie house, creative-genius Tom Sawyer conjuring up mischief. Or I was two people--pampered Bobbsey Twins, or two species as both cowboy and horse or sensible rat and crazy toad friend.     

I was all girl as a young teen, and my favorite in Little Women was not the  tomboy, Jo, but  sensitive Beth and arty, aspiring Amy. 

Grandpa and I hunted nightcrawlers in the back yard for fishing. 

SOMETIMES WE WERE UPWARDLY MOBILE

 

I loved Kresge's lunch counter specials and dresses Grandma made from Butterick patterns to mail me in South Dakota, St. Louis, or wherever we were temporarily residing. But the day I trudged into seventh grade in upscale Bethel Park, Pa., I resolved to become fashionable. Mom took pity on me to Kaufman's basement to buy a swirly skirt and itchy crinoline, and sweater set. I read Gone With the Wind. I tamed my frizzy hair with toilet paper rolls. I still have that eye for clothes. 

SOMETIMES DOWNWARDLY MOBILE

Another move, another house and school. In the moonlight of my curtainless bedroom I read Balzac and Dreiser and Thackery as music floated in from parties of other teenagers.

I didn't really fit in between rural Michigan and big cities. The suburbs had their own codes.

I finally felt I fit in when I came to New York because nobody cares if you're strange. And I regard my circuitous journey from Alma to the Apple as liberating; I see the world in my own way. Novelty is my oxygen, different people and situations fascinate me.

Naturally, I became a Journalist.

fiction

AS MANAGING EDITOR of the Evanston Review, she won awards for editorials and coverage of housing discrimination and nursing home abuse. At the Chicago Sun-Times, she ventured into notorious housing projects. Her reporting as a stringer for The New York Times ranged from light features to coverage of Mafia trials. She continued with the Times from Long Island and New York, and taught college English and creative writing workshops. She has lived a record-setting thirty years, now living in Tribeca and Eastern Long Island.

REVIEWS OF CHEERLEADERS

CAN'T AFFORD TO BE NICE

SUSAN PUTS HER CHARACTERS INTO MORAL quandaries. As with the rest of us, selfish desires clash with ideals and obligations.

But there's nothing preachy about the stories. They're fun; peopled with the ambitious who enjoy witty banter, beautiful surroundings, and romance.

 

“Cheerleaders Can’t Afford To Be Nice is a funny, compassionate, and often painful account of the ways eccentricity and failure conspire to shape Crosby and threaten to shipwreck her conventional life.”

The Washington Post

“A rollicking first novel about what shrinks call a dysfunctional family...Crosby is a heroine who immediately captures our sympathy; she’s a survivor and though she’s tempted by more selfish goals, she’s overtaken by a need to do the right thing.” New Woman

“Former Chicago Sun-Times reporter shows so smartly in her captivating first novel, Crosby has nowhere to go until she forgives her parents…Heartrending and sharply ironic…a powerful, well-drawn portrait of the American Dream gone tragically awry.”

The Norfolk Virginian Pilot

“This sensitive first novel…explores the relationship between a brother and sister and their family. Crosby Rawson receives a letter telling her that her brother Ben is missing from the shelter he usually frequents in New York. Through Crosby Saiter takes us through the dark side of the American dream.”

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

where her creative side works best

City or country, my imagination rises above buildings and trees.

creativity needs discipline. it's both mind over body and body over mind

This is the only body I get, so I try to stay friends with it.

DIET

 

My idea of healthful eating theory is eat real food. Acquire the taste. This sounds weird, but because my parents grew up during the Great Depression and WWII and were poor, we are healthy eaters. Their dinners were a bit of meat and cheap veggies: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. Boil 'em, squeeze on a little lemon. Cauliflower, boil and grate on hard cheddar. Remember your vitamin C, and have salad with drips of oil but lots of vinegar. Do anything you want with potatoes, but careful about butter. For dessert, baked apple or rice pudding, or maybe some bittersweet chocolate.  Soak beans and lentils and boil them for soup. Popcorn, no butter. Coffee and tea black. Easy and cheap, and honestly, your taste develops for the pure and simple.

My own crunchy kale chips recipe:

turn your cookie sheet into a kale sheet with olive oil

tear off kale leaves, rinse, and dry with a paper towel

scatter the kale onto the pan and shower with salt

bake at 350 and turn after five minutes

Favorite main courses: baked split chicken breast with dried tarragon and raw almonds. Fry a Beyond Burger, or make a pasta sauce with canned tomatoes and onions or garlic.

Of course, I enjoy gourmet and Chinese and all the other foods, but I'm perfectly happy with the above. Added fats and sugars from prepared foods taste wrong. 

   

Half an hour of exercise most days is payback to my muscles for all those hours I make them sit at the computer. Physical therapists for my various injuries taught me stretches to do for the rest of my life. 

First polo lesson at the Southampton Polo Club. Showing zero ability tI o play, she wrote about it instead.

 
 

articles

ANIMALS

Photo: Sonny Kleinfield

Pip goes to France to practice what he (and we handlers) learned in canine good citizen class with buddy, Bundles. 

Photo: Alex Cretey Systermans

I BECAME A REPORTER TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT

WRONGDOING

ARTS AND LEISURE

EEDUCATION

Picture perfect days for watching horses. Above with Harley Langberg, right with Kevin Nicholas, below Samantha Kleinfield.

PROFILES

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

 
Photo: Alex Cretey Systermans
 

REPORTING

On the scene

 

CONTACT

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