Susan Beckham Zurenda
After teaching literature, composition, and creative writing to thousands of high school and college students for 33 years, Susan Beckham Zurenda turned her attention to putting a novel in her heart on paper, the genesis of which was a short story that won the South Carolina Fiction Prize a number of years ago. Her debut novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020; paperback edition March 2021), has been selected the Gold Medal (first place) winner for Best First Book—Fiction in the 2021 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), a Foreword Indie Book Award finalist, a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021. She has won numerous regional awards for short fiction as the South Carolina Fiction Prize (twice), the Porter Fleming Competition, The Southern Writers Symposium Emerging Writers Fiction Contest, The Hub City Hardegree Contest in Fiction, Alabama Conclave First Novel Chapter Contest, The Jubilee Writing Competition, and has been published in numerous literary journals. Susan received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English and now works as a book publicist assisting media relations for Magic Time Literary Publicity. She lives in South Carolina with her husband Wayne and two Boston Terriers.