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Vaught, Susan 1965-

Vaught, Susan 1965-


Born October 22, 1965. Education: University of Mississippi, B.A.; Vanderbilt University, M.S., Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Books, cats, dogs, birds, and history.


E-mail—[email protected]


Neuropsychologist and author. Staff neuropsychologist, director of neuropsychology, and clinical director for a post-acute head injury hospital in Tennessee.

Awards, Honors

Temple University Health Sciences Center, PA, fellowship; Carl Brandon Kindred Award for best novel, Carl Brandon Society, 2006, for Stormwitch.



Fat Tuesday, OnStage Publishing (Decatur, AL), 2004.

(With Debbie Tanner Federici) L.O.S.T., Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2004.

(With Debbie Tanner Federici) Shadowqueen: The L.O.S.T. Story Continues, Llewellyn Publications (Woodbury, MN), 2005.

Stormwitch, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Debbie Tanner Federici) Witch Circle, Llewellyn Worldwide (Woodbury, MN), 2006.

Trigger, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Big Fat Manifesto, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Exposed, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2008.

(With J.B. Redmond) Assassin's Apprentice, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2009.


A practicing neuropsychologist, Susan Vaught is also the author of young-adult novels that include Stormwitch, Trigger, Big Fat Manifesto, and Exposed. As a neuropsychologist, Vaught has found working with teens to be a significant source of inspiration; on the Stay Alive Web site the author stated: "No matter how busy I get, the voices of my teen patients live in my mind and heart." Vaught went on to say that these voices unite in Jersey Hatch, protagonist and narrator of Trigger.

In Trigger, a failed suicide attempt renders Jersey physically deformed, brain damaged, and unable to remember the preceding year. The book chronicles his effort to make sense of the past and present and to discover what led him to pull the trigger in the first place, all while navigating multiple handicaps and prejudices. Claire E. Gross, a reviewer for Horn Book, remarked that Vaught's "portrayal of brain damage is precise, comprehensible (but never condescending), and seamlessly woven into Jersey's narrative voice." However, School Library Journal contributor Hillias J. Martin felt that the narrator's "abstract patterns of thought and mutterings are perhaps too realistic for less-determined readers." A Kirkus review further noted a "tendency to essentialize good and evil characters." Nevertheless, Curled up with a Good Kid's Book reviewer Jocelyn Pearce called the book "powerful, moving, and emotional," and stated that Vaught "manages to get readers inside of Jersey's (damaged) mind in a way that makes them sympathize completely with him."

While dark realism characterized Trigger, mysticism plays a significant role in many of Vaught's other books for teens, including L.O.S.T., Shadowqueen: The L.O. S.T. Story Continues, and Witch Circle, all written with Debbie Tanner Federici. Vaught's award-winning Stormwitch is also a mystical novel for young adults. The story features Ruba, a Haitian girl raised by her grandmother Ba, an African warrior who uses magic to fight storms. After Ba dies battling a tempest, Ruba moves to segregated Mississippi, where, despite pressure to relinquish her beliefs and native customs, she must use the magic Ba taught her to combat Hurricane Camille. Gerry Larson, writing in the School Library Journal, thought some of the plot elements were "far-fetched," but felt that Ruba is "an intriguing adolescent mix of cultural pride, emotional insecurity, and stubborn determination." On the other hand, a critic for the Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts Web site found the plot "gripping" and observed that "the novel manages to succinctly touch [on] many themes: the search for identity, the brutality of racism, and the powerful force of love and compassion when mixed with courage and conviction."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, February 15, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Stormwitch, p. 1074; December 1, 2006, Holly Koelling, review of Trigger, p. 45; December 15, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of review of Big Fat Manifesto, p. 42; November 15, 2008, Michael Cart, review of Exposed, p. 37.

Horn Book, September-October, 2006, Claire E. Gross, review of Trigger, p. 598.

Kirkus, December 15, 2004, review of Stormwitch, p. 1210; September 1, 2006, review of Trigger; Novem- ber 15, 2007, review of Big Fat Manifesto; November 1, 2008, review of Exposed.

Publishers Weekly, November 20, 2006, review of Trigger, p. 61; January 7, 2008, review of Big Fat Manifesto, p. 56; November 10, 2008, review of Exposed, p. 51.

School Library Journal, January, 2005, Saleena L. Davidson, review of L.O.S.T., p. 128; May, 2005, Gerry Larson, review of Stormwitch, p. 140; October, 2005, Michele Capozzella, review of Shadowqueen: The L.O.S.T. Story Continues, p. 160; November, 2006, Hillias J. Martin, review of Trigger, p. 156; January, 2008, Miranda Doyle, review of Big Fat Manifesto, p. 128.


Curled up with a Good Kid's Book Web site, (February 28, 2007), Jocelyn Pearce, review of Trigger.

Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts Web site, (March 7, 2007), review of Stormwitch.

Stay Alive Web site, (February 28, 2007), "Susan Vaught.", (February 16, 2007), Mechele R. Dillard, interview with Vaught.

Susan Vaught Home Page, (February 28, 2007).

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