Born in Olean, NY; daughter of Nicholas and Lou Klist; married Jay Wiggs, 1980; children: Elizabeth. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Stephen F. Austin State University, 1979; Harvard University, Ed.M., 1980. Hobbies and other interests: Kickboxing, travel, music.
Worked as teacher, 1980-91; writer, 1983—.
Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, Novelists, Inc.
Holt Medallion, 1994, for Circle in the Water; Colorado Award of Excellence, 1994, for The Mist and the Magic; RITA Award, Romance Writers of America, 1995, for Lord of the Night, and 2001, for The Mistress; nomination as one of year's "favorite books," Romance Writers Association, and Blue Boa, Peninsula Romance Writers Association, both 1999, both for The Charm School; Reviewers Choice Award, Romantic Times, 1992, 1993, 1996, and 2000.
Texas Wildflower, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Briar Rose, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Winds of Glory, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Moonshadow, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1989.
The Canary Who Sailed with Columbus (juvenile), illustrated by Sharon Loy Anderson, Panda (Austin, TX), 1989.
The Lily and the Leopard, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
The Raven and the Rose, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
The Mist and Magic, HarperMonogram (New York, NY), 1992.
Embrace the Day, HarperMonogram (New York, NY), 1993.
Lord of the Night, HarperMonogram (New York, NY), 1993.
Miranda, HarperMonogram (New York, NY), 1996.
The Lightkeeper, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 1997.
The Drifter, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 1998.
Husband for Hire, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1999.
The You I Never Knew, Warner (New York, NY), 2000.
Passing through Paradise, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2002.
It Happened One Christmas, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2003.
Home before Dark, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2003.
The Ocean between Us, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2004.
Summer by the Sea, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2004.
Table for Five, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2005.
Lakeside Cottage, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2005.
Just Breathe, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2008.
Contributor to anthologies, including A Purrfect Romance, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995, Irish Magic II, Kensington (New York, NY), 1997, and More than Words: Volume Three, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2006.
October Wind: A Novel of Christopher Columbus, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Jewel of the Sea, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Kingdom of Gold, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1994.
"TUDOR ROSE" TRILOGY
Circle in the Water, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
Vows Made in Wine, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.
Dancing on Air, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
"CALHOUN CHRONICLES" SERIES
The Charm School, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1999.
The Horsemaster's Daughter, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 1999.
Halfway to Heaven, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2001.
Enchanted Afternoon, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2002.
A Summer Affair, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2003.
"CHICAGO FIRE" TRILOGY
The Hostage, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2000.
The Mistress, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2000.
The Firebrand, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2001.
"LAKESHORE CHRONICLES" SERIES
Summer at Willow Lake, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2006.
The Winter Lodge, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2007.
The Summer Lodge, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2007.
Dockside, Mira Books (Don Mills, ON, Canada), 2007.
Susan Wiggs is an award-winning writer who has published numerous volumes of romance fiction. Her debut novel, Texas Wildflower, follows the efforts of Shiloh Mulvane, the daughter of a famous Texas lawman, to track down a shady character who tricks her into getting married. According to Booklist contributor Shelley Mosley, "fans will cheer for the spunky heroine who keeps putting herself at risk to be accepted by her father." Among the author's other early works is The Lily and the Leopard, which concerns a French woman involved with an English knight during the reign of Henry V. A Publishers Weekly critic proclaimed the novel "a cut above many historical romances." In another early work, The Raven and the Rose, a French assassin, in Switzerland on assignment by Josephine Bonaparte, falls in love with his intended victim when she nurses him after an avalanche. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that it features "murder attempts, blackmail, [and] hidden identities."
In 1999 Wiggs published the first work in the "Calhoun Chronicles," a popular series of historical romance novels. The Charm School concerns a spinster falling in love while traveling on a cargo ship. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly described Wiggs's second novel in the series, The Horsemaster's Daughter, as an "antebellum romance" that features "an intense, believable relationship." A Library Journal reviewer stated that the novel is a "lively, funny story." In Halfway to Heaven, Wiggs explores the tempestuous relationship between Michael Rowan and Helena Cabot. Reviewing the novel in Booklist, Diana Tixier Herald wrote: "Wiggs combines the complications of love and politics in an entertaining American historical." Enchanted Afternoon takes place nine years after Halfway to Heaven. When Helen reveals that Michael is the biological father of her young son, her husband begins beating her, and she flees the abusive marriage. She eventually creates a shelter for battered women, and she reunites Michael with his son. "Wiggs has a knack for creating engaging characters," observed a critic in Publishers Weekly, "and her energetic prose shines through the pages." Set in nineteenth-century San Francisco, A Summer Affair concerns Dr. Theodore "Blue" Calhoun, a physician who tends to the city's poor. After Calhoun saves the life of a gunshot victim and nurses her back to health, romance blossoms between them, even though the young woman is suspected of murder. "For all the period appeal of its joss houses and society balls, the story's theme—the all-encompassing power of love—is timeless," a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted.
Wiggs also sets novels in contemporary times. Family troubles drive Home before Dark and Table for Five. A free-spirited photojournalist returns to her hometown to reveal a painful secret in Home before Dark. After being diagnosed with a rare disease that is causing her eyesight to deteriorate, Jessie Ryder determines to reconcile with her daughter, Lila, who has been raised by Jessie's sister after Jessie gave her up for adoption sixteen years earlier. "Both sisters are envious of the other's choices," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic, "and free-spirited Jessie's sudden arrival turns Luz's world—not as stable as it seems on the surface—upside down." In Table for Five, a pair of strangers join forces to help a trio of orphaned children. When Lily Robinson's best friend and her friend's ex-husband are killed in a car accident, their three children are placed in the care of an uncle, Sean Maguire. According to a critic in the MBR Bookwatch, "Derek finds he needs Lily and his three wards; the youngsters need the love and stability provided by both adults."
Contemporary romance in pleasant surroundings can be found in Wiggs's novels Lakeside Cottage and Summer at Willow Lake. A single mother and a national hero find romance in Lakeside Cottage. Kate Livingston and her son, Aaron, hope to spend a quiet summer at their family's cottage, but they find themselves intrigued by their reclusive neighbor, J.D. Harris, a military medic who is attempting to stay out of the spotlight after saving the president's life. Booklist contributor Maria Hatton stated that Wiggs's Lakeside Cottage "draws readers into her characters' lives and minds in a way that makes them real and true and unforgettable." Summer at Willow Lake tells the story of Olivia Bellamy and Connor Davis, whose once-passionate relationship is rekindled when they decide to renovate an old camp in the Catskills. "Wonderfully evoked characters, a spellbinding story line, and insights into the human condition will appeal to every reader," Hatton wrote.
In The Ocean between Us, Wiggs examines the lives of "the military families who struggle to keep their bonds strong during challenging times," stated Sandy Huseby in her BookPage interview with the author. "Steve and Grace Bennett look like the perfect military couple," explained a Publishers Weekly contributor: "Steve, a former pilot, has become an ambitious officer, and Grace successfully cares for their three bright, talented kids." However, a quarrel just before Steve leaves for a six-month stint on board an aircraft carrier threatens to break their marriage, and the issues raised are complicated when Steve falls overboard while trying to rescue a seaman from an exploding flare. "The military is definitely a world apart," Wiggs told Huseby. "The book I wanted to write was the story of a woman and her marriage—a good marriage. Novels about bad marriages abound, but I find the idea of a good marriage that is severely tested much more interesting." "Readers will be swept up in the struggles of these individuals," Library Journal critic Bette-Lee Fox explained, "as they face the challenges of military service and its familial repercussions."
Passing through Paradise is a novel of redemption and class conflict. Protagonist Sandra Winslow, widow of wunderkind Senator Victor Winslow, lives in genteel seclusion in Providence, Rhode Island, despised by the residents who blame her for her husband's accidental death in the car she was driving. She lives in a rundown Victorian manor house, carefully avoiding society—until handyman and restorer of classic homes Mike Malloy comes into her life. Mike's arrival places Sandra in a quandary: how can she balance her fears of the past with her hopes for the future? The story, Wiggs told Suzanne Fox in an interview for Publishers Weekly, "contrasts the upper-crust family of the heroine's first husband, with the working class background of her new romantic interest…. I gravitate toward empowering and uplifting conclusions. That's not just a response to my chosen genres but also a reflection of my views about life. I love my life, my family and my friends." "A richly textured story that successfully moves beyond the conventions of the romance genre," a Publishers Weekly contributor stated, "this book will polish Wiggs's already glowing reputation." "Once again," wrote Library Journal contributor Shelley Mosley, "Wiggs proves she's a master of both historical and contemporary romance, unfolding the story in slow, delicious layers."
The You I Never Knew is the story of an embittered daughter who reunites with her dying father. Michelle Turner returns to her father's Montana ranch after a long absence. Seventeen years previously, as a teenager, she had gotten pregnant by one of her father's ranch hands: Sam McPhee. Michelle brings her teenaged son with her on a trip to donate a kidney to her dying father; during the journey she reencounters Sam, who has prospered and is now a successful rancher and doctor. "Wigg's sensitive portrayal of parents and lovers trying to bond despite a less-than-perfect past," declared a Publishers Weekly contributor, "exemplifies the richness and realism this theme can lend a love story."
"I've always loved writing emotionally rich, character-driven novels that explore the way people fall in love and deal with life's triumphs and tragedies," Wiggs told an interviewer in Publishers Weekly. Wiggs added: "I'm drawn to ‘relationship’ novels because of their affirming focus on the power of love to heal wounds and transform lives."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2001, Diana Tixier Herald, review of The Firebrand, p. 1538; September 15, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of The Firebrand, p. 203; September 15, 2001, review of The You I Never Knew, p. 212; September 15, 2001, Mary K. Chelton, review of The You I Never Knew, p. 212; October 1, 2002, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Halfway to Heaven, p. 304; November 15, 2002, Shelley Mosley, review of Texas Wildflower, p. 583; February 1, 2003, Kathleen Hughes, review of Home before Dark, p. 956; August 1, 2003, Shelley Mosley, review of A Summer Affair, p. 1966; April 15, 2005, Shelley Mosley, review of Table for Five, p. 1437; August 1, 2005, Maria Hatton, review of Lakeside Cottage, p. 2007; August 1, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of Summer at Willow Lake, p. 56; February 1, 2007, Lynne Welch, review of The Winter Lodge, p. 38.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of Home before Dark, p. 180.
Library Journal, November 15, 1995, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Dancing on Air, p. 64; November 15, 1998, Michael Rogers, review of Briar Rose, p. 96; November 15, 2000, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The You I Never Knew, p. 56; February 15, 2002, Shelley Mosley, review of Passing through Paradise, p. 131; March 15, 2004, Bette-Lee Fox, review of The Ocean between Us, p. 109.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Table for Five.
Nation, October 21, 1991, Kirpatrick Sale, review of October Wind: A Novel of Christopher Columbus, pp. 488-489.
Publishers Weekly, January 11, 1991, Penny Kaganoff, review of The Lily and the Leopard, p. 98; October 4, 1991, review of The Raven and the Rose; December 14, 1992, review of The Mist and the Magic; June 5, 1995, review of Vows Made in Wine, p. 56; February 10, 1997, review of Irish Magic II, p. 69; February 10, 1997, review of Irish Magic II, p. 69; September 8, 1997, review of The Lightkeeper, p. 73; May 4, 1998, review of The Drifter, p. 210; October 25, 1999, review of The Horsemaster's Daughter, p. 78; November 27, 2000, review of The You I Never Knew, p. 60; February 19, 2001, review of The Firebrand, p. 75; January 28, 2002, Suzanne Fox, "PW Talks with Susan Wiggs," and review of Passing through Paradise, p. 277; July 29, 2002, review of Enchanted Afternoon, p. 59; March 31, 2003, review of Home before Dark, p. 43; June 30, 2003, review of A Summer Affair, p. 63; April 5, 2004, review of The Ocean between Us, p. 39; June 21, 2004, review of Summer by the Sea, p. 48; July 25, 2005, review of Lakeside Cottage, p. 54; June 12, 2006, review of Summer at Willow Lake, p. 36; December 18, 2006, review of The Winter Lodge, p. 49; June 18, 2007, review of Dockside, p. 41.
School Library Journal, July, 1990, Marie Orlando, review of The Canary Who Sailed with Columbus, p. 65.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1999, review of The Drifter, p. 418.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (September 9, 2007), Sandy Huseby, "Love, Honor, Duty."
Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (September 9, 2007), Jean Mason, interview with Susan Wiggs.
Susan Wiggs Home Page,http://www.susanwiggs.com (September 9, 2007).