Los Osos resident and author Susan Tuttle is remembered by the SLO County writing community.
Science fiction and fantasy author Leonard Carpenter summed up the SLO writing community’s heartfelt shock as Susan Tuttle transcends onto her next, but untimely, spiritual journey to the other side. He wrote: “What a loss to literature, to SLO NightWriters, and to feisty gal yarns! I admire Susan’s success in tutoring with her Write It Right! series. We sparred deliciously in groups. I’m glad I gave early praise to her masterful first novel, ‘Tangled Webs.’”
Briefly, but a bit of “An Elegy for Susan Tuttle” by SLO NightWriters President, Janice Konstantinidis: “A thousand pens stopped writing. No words were written, or pages turned, but a sense of deep uniting, came over all who’d heard the news that Susan had stopped fighting. Her body worn with time’s cruel hand had given hope a slighting…A thousand edits called your name, remembering you forever. Your gifted touch for shaping words, you were so very clever.” (Find complete Elegy at www.SLONightWriters.com)
A native of Buffalo, NY, Susan moved to the Central Coast in 2004, however, classmate Lillian Luraschi treasures her times spent and stories shared at Holy Cross Academy reunions. Susan returned as she could afford to visit her son, Aaron.
Susan’s first published suspense novel, “Tangled Webs,” was only the start of her prolific award-winning literary contributions, particularly in short stories, novels, and creative non-fiction. Her passion was creating memorable characters in her suspense novels. Her dedication and advocacy guided untold writers to publication. Her true joy was announcing the cover art for her newest book designed by her son, Aaron.
Holding several executive board positions, Susan was SLO NightWriters longest serving board member. For years she was education coordinator offering clinics and round table critique groups before each general meeting.
Many thanks to Susan’s fellow writers for contributing the following memories:
Suspense author and award-winning blogger Anne Allen: “Susan had an infectious sense of fun. She and I had a blast writing skits for our Christmas parties. Her ideas were always funny and spot-on. She was a trained actress, so her performances were great too.”
At her recent services conducted by Father Daniel of the Monastery of the Risen Christ in San Luis Obispo, Susan’s writing community friends learned about her spiritual life. She served selflessly at both the monastery as bookkeeper and retreat scheduler and for decades at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Los Osos as musical director. She would tease her employers with, “I’m not here for the money. I’m here for the benefits,” but all appreciated it was Susan that generously shared her talents, always presenting her best self.
Tina Clark, a friend, mentored writer, and SLO NightWriter board member: “I will forever cherish the memory of Susan’s excited smile when she shared a new piece of writing, a book cover created by her son, or received an award. Her incredible writing, critiquing, editing, and teaching skills mirrored her drive and passion to fill the world with strong writing.”
Past President of Sisters in Crime and fellow award-winning author Tony Piazza: “I was stunned…She was so full of life and brought so much enthusiasm to all of us. Whenever there was a period that I considered throwing in the towel, Susan would come along, and I was re-energized to start writing. She was generous with her knowledge and her time.”
Prolific suspense author and creator of her podcast featuring local authors, Barbara M. Hodges reminded us of Susan’s devious, yet smiling, quick wit, a hallmark of her writer’s persona: “Susan and I were members of Public Safety Writers Association. Carpooling to writers’ conferences in Las Vegas, we talked, plotted and discussed the most original ways to murder our characters. The first time we stopped at Starbucks, Susan ordered a hot tea and a breakfast sandwich, ending her order with, ‘And please get it right. Or I’ll put you in a book and kill you.’ Susan enjoyed saying that. People loved it. In fact, I know she placed one or two of those folks in some of her books. They always wanted to be one of the bad guys.”
Award-winning author Mara Purl: “Susan Tuttle’s smile, and its accompanying laugh, made a first impression on me. The smile and the laugh were particularly noticeable because they occurred in the context of a discussion about the dark matters taken up in her genre of writing. To listen to her wisdom was to resonate with that sense of writeness we writers seek and crave.”
Current Central Coast Sisters in Crime president and former SLO NightWriters president Dennis Eamon Young: “SAD! Great friend, writer, teacher, presenter, singer, mentor, Susan Tuttle has died leaving big holes in our hearts. She will be sorely missed from so many writing classes, critique sessions and by writers like me, who depended on her to edit our books.”
Susan was an active presenter at the Central Coast Writers Conference at Cuesta College. Director Teri Bayus: “She taught, mentored, inspired, elevated, and shared. She turned scared creators into writers. She equipped the beginning writer to be resilient in a function that would forever change them. She was a rare soul, who always gave more than she took.”
Nancy Ragsdale: “Susan helped me survive the ‘author wannabe’ struggle to become a real author. She has been an inspiration to me in so many ways.” Dennis Schwab: “Always encouraging, Susan pointed out what readers want to read and how not to bury my dialogue.”
Jody Julhowski Nelson: “Once retired, I jumped at the chance to learn. She became a good friend, a marvelous mentor and an editor for my recently published first book about my teaching life with Susan’s help, of course!”
A new member of SLO NightWriters, Greg Koby: “Our personalities clashed, it just happens. Despite that, I respected Susan as an accomplished fiction writer. I was impressed at how she could zero in on the source of a problem with a writer’s work. She would output works at a pace I couldn’t even imagine. I understand the creative magic that comes with writing fiction. When writing my works of fiction, I hope I can get to Susan’s level of creative magic.”
After three years mentoring Mary Silberstein, Susan edited Mary’s first book: “She always said, ‘Show don’t tell.’ Well Susan, you showed all right. You showed your caring and devotion to your fellow man in your writing, singing, spiritual devotion, and service to others.”
RIP Susan Tuttle, June 11, 2021. However, Susan composed a final song and blessing for those of us she left behind. A verse from her song: “Live in trust and faith and wonder, Learn to laugh at yourself. We are all in this life together, Set your ego on the shelf.”
And Susan would insist she had the last word. From her favorite Irish Blessing: “May the road rise up to meet you…till we meet again.”