Episode 25: Bestselling author Susan Shapiro goes behind her genre-crossing prose in candid interview

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” – Buddhist Proverb

For me, and hopefully for you too, that teacher is New York Times bestselling author Susan Shapiro. Shapiro’s latest novel, What’s Never Said, is out now from Heliotrope books.

What's Never Said by Susan ShapiroIn this Behind the Prose exclusive, I interview Shapiro, who was my thesis mentor while I was an MFA student in the Creative Writing Program at The New School, where she’s taught writing since 1993 and won a Distinguished Teaching Award.

The first time I took her highly popular “Instant Gratification Takes Too Long” Journalism course, I – like many of the other students -published a personal essay (on the website The Frisky.) I have to credit Shapiro with guiding my foray into the world of creative nonfiction. Once you listen to this interview, you’ll know exactly why I call her New York City’s Writer-in-Residence.

I’m not the only student whose writing life has been changed by her insight. More than 85 of her students have landed book deals over the last 10 years. The latest is Aspen Matis whose memoir Girl in the Woods is out this month from HarperCollins. Shapiro’s students’ successes are reflective of a philosophy she lives by: publishing karma.

You can benefit from Sue’s good publishing karma tomorrow at her open-to-the-public free Secrets of Publishing Panel at The New School, 63 Fifth Avenue, Starr Foundation Hall, UL 102, Lower Level, University Center. Joining Shapiro will be Aspen Matis, her literary agent Ryan Harbage, Heliotrope book editor Naomi Rosenblatt, and Daniel Jones, the editor of what might be the personal essayists’ holy grail, the “Modern Love” column in The New York Times.

Listen to the candid interview below or download on iTunes.

I guarantee you will learn something.

Susan Shapiro, New York Times Bestselling Author

Susan Shapiro, New York Times Bestselling Author

Then go write.

Susan Shapiro is an award winning writing professor at The New School. She freelances for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, Washington Post. She’s the bestselling author of 10 books including the acclaimed memoirs “Lighting Up,” “Five Men Who Broke My Heart” and the coauthored “Unhooked” and “The Bosnia List.” Her new novel “What’s Never Said” was just published by Heliotrope Books. You can follow her on Twitter at @Susanshapironet.


  • Susan Shapiro has a favorite genre. Find out what type of writing she likes best at [3:39].
  • Sue relies on criticism to improve her writing. Learn how she decides who trust with her work by going to [16:01].
  • Interested in turning a real life experience into the basis for a novel? Go to [24:32] for some advice.
  • Curious about Susan Shapiro’s writing superpower? Skip to [35:04] to hear her personal writing superpower and what she believes she brings to the world of writing.

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Free Secrets of Publishing Panel in New York City on 9/11/15