Susan Parker, 1999 Award Winner
A former teacher and bicycle-tour guide, Susan Parker embarked on a writing career in 1995, a year after her husband, Ralph, suffered a devastating bicycle accident and was left with no movement below his shoulders. At that point Susan became his caretaker and the couple’s sole breadwinner.
In November 1998, the San Francisco Sunday Chronicle-Examiner published a 2,500 word essay by Parker about her new life. Her crisp, understated style, bearing no trace of self-pity, struck a chord with readers. After more of her writing appeared in Bay-area newspapers over the winter, Parker was invited to serve two stints as a substitute columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. Her inaugural series of five columns, published April 5-9, 1999, generated hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls from the public, demanding more stories from Parker.
Her work has been featured in the Chattahoochee Review, The Sun Magazine, Hope Magazine and the Great River Review. More than 200 of her essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribute, The San Jose Mercury News and the Denver Post.
Parker’s book, Tumbling After Pedaling Like Crazy After Life Goes Downhill, was published by Crown in spring 2002. It has been described as a story about learning to accept change, finding kinship in unexpected places, discovering differences between people, and searching for and ultimately finding inner strength. In December 2002 HBO optioned the screen rights to Tumbling After.
At the time she won the Margolis Award, Parker was a book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle and wrote a weekly column in the Berkeley Daily Planet. She planned to enter the MFA program in creative writing at San Francisco State University in fall 2003.