HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Suzette Mullen

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Suzette Mullen is a book coach who helps LGBTQ+ folx write memoirs that bring light, hope, and connection to readers who feel alone or othered. Together with her collaborator Julie, she’ll be talking to HippoCampers about building their own query audit toolkit! Suzette 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 running a break-out session with fellow book coach Julie Artz called “Is Your Manuscript Ready to Pitch? Your Query Audit Toolkit.” I’m excited about sharing some simple and effective tools for writers to self-assess their query-readiness as well as tools to level up their manuscripts. With today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, it’s critical that writers seeking traditional publication share their very best work. “Good enough” won’t cut it!

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 recently finished The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames by Justine Cowan, the story of the author’s search through her mother’s mysterious past as a “foundling” in London. Cowan masterfully braids together her mother’s childhood story, her own childhood story, and her investigation into the history of the dystopian British foundling system. I appreciated learning about a world I didn’t realize existed, and as a book coach who works with memoir writers and a memoir writer myself, I also greatly appreciated the craft and skill with which the author seamlessly weaves the past and present.

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

A: I attended HippoCamp 2018 and loved it! Plus Lancaster is now my home, so HippoCamp is the perfect fit!

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

A: My memoir GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES is now under peer review with a university press, so I’ll be crossing my fingers and asking for prayers and good thoughts and vibes! I’m also planning a “Next Steps” retreat to immediately follow HippoCamp and will be getting ready to launch a group coaching program for LGBTQ+ memoir writers in time for Coming Out Day in October.

I’ll take some time out for fun with a trip to Cozumel with my wife (originally planned for June 2020) and hopefully find time to hang out with my two sons at some point, although those millennials are hard to pin down!

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: After two years of Zooming, I am so looking forward to being with writers IN PERSON! Also being a member of the queer community and a memoir writer myself, I CANNOT WAIT TO HEAR (and maybe even meet!) Carmen Maria Machado! In the Dream House is a book I teach from and reference constantly.

Q: We love introducing Lancaster to attendees. Since you live here what would you recommend to other attendees?

A: FOODIES DELIGHT! Central Market, the food court at Southern Market, the rooftop at Tellus, the patio at Zoetropolis. Grab a macaron (or 2 or 3) at Barbaret. Have a bourbon drink at Proof. Order the Grilled Chicken Caesar at the Belvedere.

Q: How did Lancaster get so lucky to host this off-the-charts CNF conference??

A: Donna Talarico! 🙂


We can’t wait for Suzette 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.

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