HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Suzanne Ohlmann

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Suzanne Ohlmann, a writer and registered nurse from Texas, will read from and talk about her 2022 memoir, Shadow Migration: Mapping a Life as part of our Night of Nonfiction: Debut Author Panel & Discussion.

From an apple-pie childhood in America’s Fourth of July City to the dirt floors of a cowshed in rural India, readers zigzag across time and geography to see the world through Ohlmann’s eyes and to discover with her the pain she’d been avoiding through her boomerang travels away from her native home. Suzanne was kind enough to answer a few questions about her upcoming reading and trip to Lancaster for our annual writing conference:


Q: Tell us a little about your involvement this year at HippoCamp.

A: I’m both nervous and excited to participate in the Debut Author Panel, then go and participate and listen as much as I can to my fellow CNF writers.

Q: Our motto is “memorable creative nonfiction.” Tell us about one of the more recent memoirs, essay collections, or individual essays you’ve read and why it was memorable.

A: I just finished this short memoir by British writer Deborah Levy and loved her voice and the way she takes us into the depths of the Apartheid-ridden South Africa of her childhood and shows us that she began to write because she’d lost her will to speak (after her dad was arrested and taken to prison for his anti-apartheid views.  Well worth a read.

Q: What made you decide to participate in HippoCamp this year as a speaker?

A: How could anyone ever say no to this opportunity, or to the goddess of diners herself, Donna Talarico? I cannot WAIT to get to know Lancaster and this safe, contained, supportive realm of CNF writers.

Q: What’s going to keep you busy between now and HippoCamp?

A: I live in San Antonio, 85 miles from Uvalde. In the next months, I’m working to develop a writing curriculum with the San Antonio Fire Department’s Chief Psychologist for the nurses and first responders who were involved in the horrific school shooting. My husband is an SAFD firefighter and has been part of the Peer Support Team working there. I know that writing would be of great benefit over these next months and years to mediate and even transform the unspeakable trauma they face.

Q: Since you’ll also be attending the conference, when you’re not wearing your “speaker hat,” what are you most looking forward to learning or doing?

A: Listening, writing, laughing, listening, listening, listening, listening.

Q: We love introducing Lancaster to attendees. If you live here or have been here before, what would you recommend to other attendees? And, if this will be your first time here, what are you looking forward to?

A: Can’t wait to dive into the food and historical scene.


We can’t wait for Suzanne to join us this year! HippoCamp 2022, a creative nonfiction conference sponsored by Hippocampus Magazine and Books, is Aug. 12-14 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information or to register, visit our official conference website here.

(Learn more about the conference and see details of all previous years at our magazine website’s HippoCamp page.)

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