WSP writer wins McKnight fellowship

Local author Susan Koefod recently was awarded the prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers. (submitted photo)

A West St. Paul woman has been awarded the coveted 2013 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers.

Susan Koefod is the author of the Arvo Thorson mystery series. Her debut novel “Washed Up” introduced readers to the alcoholic, prickly investigator and was praised for its “gorgeous prose” by Library Journal. The second novel in the series, “Broken Down,” is set around a murder on a swing bridge bearing a striking resemblance to the former Rock Island swing bridge in Inver Grove Heights. Koefod is an Inver Grove Heights native, and both of her published books contain thinly concealed landmarks from the area.

“Residents are recognizing certain locations and asking me, ‘Is this supposed to be so-and-so?” Koefod said.

Her third book in the series, “Burnt Out,” is scheduled for publication this fall.

“It was a very long journey to publication for sure,” said Koefod, 54. “But I have always experienced the world through my writing. I have been writing all of my life.”

Koefod holds an English degree from St. Catherine’s and a MFA from Hamline University. Her writing has been seen in a variety of magazines.

Once in a lifetime

The McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers, which is administered by the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, is given annually to five accomplished Minnesota writers and spoken word artists. Four awards alternate annually between creative prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry/spoken word. The fifth award is presented in children’s literature and alternates annually for writing for ages eight and under and writing for children older than eight.

The fellowship entries are judged by prominent American authors and editors who live outside Minnesota. The judges and authors remain anonymous to each other.

“You could be a famous writer, you could be a beginner,” Koefod said. “You’re judged solely on what you write.”

Koefod doesn’t plan to quit her day job as a marketing writer for a Fortune 500 company, but admitted the fellowship gives her a little wiggle room to explore other writing projects and travel to places she calls “creatively inspiring.”

“There are no requirements for how you use these funds,” she explained, adding other writers often use the funds to travel to conferences or buy new computers.

“They’re just sort of paying you to write,” Koefod said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me.”

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Heather Edwards can be reached at

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