Susann Cokal is a moody historical novelist, a pop-culture essayist, book critic, freelance editor, and once-upon-a-time professor of creative writing and modern literature. She lives in a creepy old farmhouse in Richmond, Virginia, with seven cats, a big dog, a spouse, and some peacocks that supposedly belong to a neighbor.
Susann's third novel, The Kingdom of Little Wounds, received several national awards, including a silver medal from the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Award series. It also sits at number 78 on the ALA's list of the most banned and challenged books of the decade from 2010 to 2019. She is the author of two previous novels, Mirabilis and Breath and Bones, which got some nice notice. Her latest novel, Mermaid Moon, is for young adults and debuted in March 2020.
Her shorter work has been published in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, such as Electric Lit, Cincinnati Review, Writers on the Job, The Saturday Evening Post, Prairie Schooner, Writers Ask, and The New York Times Book Review.
Now I'll drop the third person and say thanks very much for visiting!
In the far northern reaches of civilization, a mermaid leaves the sea to look for her land-dwelling mother among people as desperate for magic and miracles as they are for life and love.
For reviews, interviews, and other forms of press coverage, please see individual book pages. This page is mostly about Mermaid Moon.
Blood calls to blood; charm calls to charm.
It is the way of the world.
Come close and tell us your dreams.
Sanna is a mermaid — but she is only half seavish. The night of her birth, a sea-witch cast a spell that made Sanna’s people, including her landish mother, forget how and where she was born.
Now Sanna is sixteen and an outsider in the seavish flok where women rule and mothers mean everything. She is determined to go to land and learn who she is. So she apprentices herself to the ancient witch, Sjældent, to learn the magic of making and unmaking. With a new pair of legs and a mysterious quest to complete for her teacher, she follows a clue that leads her ashore on the Thirty-Seven Dark Islands.
Her fellow mermaids wait floating on the seaskin as Sanna stumbles into a wall of white roses thirsty for blood, a hardscrabble people hungry for miracles, and a baroness of fading beauty who will do anything to live forever, even at the expense of her own children.
This novel is more than "just a story" to me. Actually, they all are, because we live them as we write them ... I wrote Mermaid Moon with a special intensity, though, because I'd had a serious brain injury, coupled with an autoimmune disorder called Sjögren's Syndrome, and for a while I was unable to speak or read. This story brought me back. And the essay to which this button links explains what happened.
A Note about an Odd Name
My name is pronounced this way: SUZANNE COKE-L. Almost no one says it correctly the first time. You can click the button below to hear me explain the meaning and origin in my own voice--this is from a really addictive website with lots of children's authors telling the stories of their own monikers.
MMM without its jacket ... pretty even underneath--and look at the turquoise edge stain on the pages.
I heart chatting with book groups, in person or by Skype ...
Skype session about Mirabilis with the book group of my high school bff, Leslie Hayes. Thanks for the great chat! (Incidentally, I have blue willow china too!)