Sue Monk Kidd is the author of the bestseller and book club favorite, The Secret Life of Bees; her second novel is The Mermaid Chair (Viking) . Her first novel, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies, is a powerful story of coming-of-age, race-relations, and the ability of love to transform lives. Bees spent over eighty weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and has been published in more than 20 languages. It was chosen by independent booksellers as the paperback BookSense Book of the Year in 2004 and as the 2003 Southeastern Booksellers Association (SEBA) Book of the Year. It was also nominated for the prestigious Orange Prize in the U.K.
The Mermaid Chair, explores a woman’s pilgrimage to self-belonging, the inner life of mid-life marriage, and the little known region in the female soul where the sacred and the erotic intersect. Set on a South Carolina barrier island, it tells the story of 42 year old Jessie Sullivan, a married woman who falls in love with a Benedictine monk, igniting both a crisis and a self-awakening. The Mermaid Chair won the Quill award for General Fiction in 2005.
Kidd discovered her longing to be a writer when she was a child listening to her father’s imaginative stories. She began keeping journals that chronicled her experiences, both internal and external, a practice she has continued throughout her life.
Two books which she read at the age of fifteen — Thoreau’s spiritual memoir, Walden and Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening — had a deep impact on her, foreshadowing the course she herself would eventually take as a writer of spiritual memoirs and novels. Her nonfiction books, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (1996) and When the Heart Waits (1990) are also widely acclaimed.
Kidd lives near Charleston, SC, where she serves on the board of advisors for Poets & Writers, Inc. and works to support their efforts for the literary arts and their advocacy for emerging writers. She is Writer in Residence at Phoebe Pember House in Charleston.
Sue Monk Kidd was interviewed at Kentucky Author Forum by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. Bolen is a psychiatrist, a Jungian analyst in private practice and a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. She is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Psychology and Goddesses in Everywoman, a highly celebrated book which saw a 20th anniversary edition published in 2004. In all aspects of her work she emphasizes the need for a spiritual dimension in life, while taking into account the powerful effects of archetypes within individuals, family and culture.