About Susan

Susan Rava

Susan Rava grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. From an early age, books and writing played a role in her life. Her first article about her cocker spaniel, Taffy, appeared in Dog World when she was 10.

At Vassar College, she majored in philosophy and developed her French during a year in Paris. After graduation, she worked for AFS, an international exchange program, in New York City. Despite vows never to return to the Midwest, she moved back to St. Louis where she met her husband, John. Shortly after their marriage, Susan began graduate school in French literature at Washington University in St. Louis. Her husband babysat for their three children on Sunday afternoons while she completed her doctorate. In 1978 she began a teaching career at Washington University.

Sunday afternoons remained her personal writing time. While raising children and teaching, Susan composed short observations about family, teaching, and daily life. Several became op-ed pieces which appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Change, and the Washington University Magazine.

Her children are now settled on the two coasts; she has retired from teaching. But just as Susan had more free time to write, her parents and in-laws showed signs of aging. She saw glimmers of the care they would need as her father-in-law lost his keys, his hearing aids, and most troubling, his nouns, then his other words. Caregiving began to take her time and energy. At first, she kept a caregiving journal. Then she decided to expand her family experiences into a full-fledged memoir, Swimming Solo.


Susan still lives in St. Louis with her husband, John. Their old basset hound, Rufus, has gone to dog heaven. A ragamuffin dog named Tati now lives with Susan and John and walks daily with them. In the afternoons, Susan works on a novel inspired by an oil portrait of her young grandmother in a low-cut, cranberry red dress. She also writes creative nonfiction including “God & Alzheimer’s” in Into The Storm (2013) and “Mars” which appeared in The Lindenwood Review in the Spring of 2014. July finds her in Pentwater, Michigan surrounded by children, partners, and grandchildren. She anchors her memoir, Swimming Solo, there in Pentwater.

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